How to use Shrink Plastic for accessories | EASY CRAFT DIY

Shrink Plastic is a craft that you can use for so many crafting projects. Once you know how to use this plastic correctly, you will not want to stop creating mini art gifts and accessories for yourself and others.

How to use Shrink Plastic for accessories

I finally got around to taking some photos while making some shrink jewellery to do a tutorial. This post is very photo heavy but I find that it's the best way to describe 'How to's & I also hate reading blog posts that only have words to explain a DIY and no pictures.

I will share with you 4 Methods I use to get great results with Shrink Plastic arts & crafts

  • Shrink Plastic
There are a few brands available, Shrinky Dinks is the most common. I use a brand called PolyShrink as I just find I like this better, but whatever you can get from your art supply or scrapbook shop is fine.
  • Permanent markers, pencils or chalks
You do not need all of these, pick and choose what you would like to use but I recommend you always use a marker for your outline, whatever thickness you like  
  • Small Scissors & hole punch (if making necklace, earrings)
  • Designs
Draw up some designs on some paper or print them off from your computer. This can be anything you like, from a band logo to a cartoon of your dog. I just used old designs I had in my work design folder of some heart tattoo flash.
  • Sandpaper, fine grade
You need this to lightly sand the surface to hold the colour
  • Oven & an old cooking tray
  • Cardboard
  • Jewellery findings
There is a large range of plastics to choose from. Above is the clear, white and black. I tend to like the white as I find it gets the best results for me with my techniques but I have seen some amazing things done with other colours including the clear.

Above are just some basic designs that I had stored away in an old folder. Please remember that you can do ANYTHING at all in the picture you use, have fun and experiment! 

The plastic shrinks approx 45% of its original size so make sure your designs are a lot larger than the size you want them to end up being. Look at the photo at the end to see the difference in size for reference.

  • Use fine-grade sandpaper and lightly sand your plastic
Before you start lightly sand all areas on plastic you are going to use, I forgot this step and remembered to late to do it so my pencils & pastel chalks did not get the best result.

The above photos are of permanent markers on white plastic. Below is the Tutorial with this Method
  • Trace your design onto the plastic with a black marker. 
If you can not see your design through the plastic you can use a lightbox.
  • Colour in your design with permanent markers. 
The best results are when you use contrasting colours.

Above is using the chalks on clear plastic. Below is the Tutorial with this Method   

I think if you are going to use the chalks I would suggest using the white plastics. I had not used the pastels in ages so forgot this but they really do look beautiful when used right.

I find that if I use a cotton bud and rub the fine powder into the plastic this way I get the best results and can blend the colour nicely. You can apply the chalks straight onto the plastics but I don't really like doing it that way and the results are not as beautiful as blending with a cotton bud.

The design with look crappy before you have shrunk the plastic and you will think it will not work. It will, everything looks different once it's smaller

The above is pencilled on white plastic. Below is the Tutorial on this method

Basically, you do the same as with the markers above. Trace with a market & then colour with a pencil.

When pencils & chalks go onto the plastic they are very light and you think that you need to get it darker... YOU DON'T When the plastic shrinks the colour will go bolder and pencil marks should blend together.

Here are some more examples of what you can do with pencils.

Above is a silver marker on black plastic. Below is the Tutorial on this method

On the black plastic you really can not trace, so freehand drawing is the way to go. I just keep the designs simple on solid colours. You can also use light coloured pencils or chalk but I like the silver Sharpie the best. 

The light colour creates a wow factor and really stands out once the plastic is shrunk

Now cut your little heart out!

Be careful around delicate edges as the clear can tear slightly. The smaller the scissors the better when cutting odd shapes. My scissors above are too big but again my child has lost my tiny craft scissors. I will not start ranting about that, that's a whole new post about people using my crafting scissors 😂

TIP - If you are using these for necklaces or earrings then use a hole punch to cut your hole to place your o-ring in when attaching to the chain etc. Do this before you shrink, that way no drilling into the delicate thin shrunk plastic

Oven cooking time!
  • Place a piece of cardboard or cooking paper on an old tray and place the cutout plastic on it.
  • Put the tray in a preheated oven. 
The oven temperature would all depend on what brand of shrink plastic you use so check the instructions. I had the oven set at 150 degrees and placed the tray on the middle rack.
  • It does not take long to shrink (a few minutes) so keep an eye on them
When they have shrunk you will notice they are not flat, they may have a slight bubble. This is easily fixed. With a thick piece of cardboard press down the plastic and keep heating. Be careful not to burn yourself. 

I watch the plastic closely and once it's shrunk and curled, I push down fast making the plastic flat. Only use clean white cardboard for this so no print transfers back onto the design
  • Do not overbake as the plastic may stick.

Above you can see the final result and the difference in the size from the original design and how much they have shrunk when cooked. You can also see how dark the colours have become.

You can use these in lots of different ways to create custom and personalised pieces. Keyrings, cute hair-clips, earrings, pendants, rings, brooches & even embellishments for scrapbooking or crafts are a great way to use shrink-plastic

Here are some extra tips & tricks on using shrink plastic for crafts.

  • Use a sealant on your design. Most colours will set and hold but a spray sealant has never done any harm and it protects the design from fading
  • Earring designs work best when traced. You get the exact same design in the same size this way.
  • The simple designs are the most effective. The more detail when large the messier the design will look when it has got smaller.
  • Solid colours work well with just cutting out geometric shapes with no drawing on them is quick and easy
  • Stick these charms to brooches, hair & ring findings for unique custom gifts for friends & family

I hope this helped everyone who wondered how to get a good result from shrink plastic, there are not a lot of tutorials on the internet that is easy to find.

I learnt by trial and error as when I started there were no instructions on the internet, which kind of sucked but it did make me experiment and figure out what worked best for me so that's a bonus 😊

Do you have any tips on using Shrink Plastic? 
Let me know below in the comments 

Happy Crafting!


  1. love it! exciting stuff i would love to make my own jewelery and your post is very clear for instructions :)

    Chloe xo xo xo

  2. Thanks dear, I'm Following you back Now!

  3. followed bk sweety... thnx for stopping by

  4. Had no idea how the shrink plastic works! Really enjoyed reading about the process!


    Holly Foxen Wells


  5. great post! Maybe we follow each other!? Let me know :) Greetings

  6. I might be wrong2 December 2013 at 17:12

    Love these!! They look so simple to make :)!! X