How to colour shrink plastic jewellery

Written by sue stepp
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How to colour shrink plastic jewellery
Put bright, beautiful colours on shrink art jewellery using coloured pencils, markers or acrylic paint. (colour markers image by Kostyantyn Ivanyshen from Fotolia.com)

Shrink plastic jewellery is easily made by anyone. The plastic design is cut out, coloured and heated, producing a piece of jewellery. Colour is added to shrink plastic jewellery with markers, pencils, acrylic paint or computer printers. People add colour to the jewellery before or after shrinking with an oven, toaster oven or heat gun. The colour stays on the jewellery better when colour is applied before shrinking, but colour added after heating stays on the jewellery if well sealed. This project requires no special skills.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • White paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher or craft knife
  • Black permanent marker
  • Assorted colours of permanent markers
  • Coloured pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Oven, toaster oven or heat gun
  • Workable fixative spray

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Instructions

    Adding colour before shrinking

  1. 1

    Draw design for the piece of jewellery twice the size you want the final design on a piece of white paper with a pencil. Get the design totally worked out on the paper before transferring it to the shrink plastic sheet. Trace over the final design with a black marker.

  2. 2

    Place a piece of shrink plastic on top of the design with the rough side facing upward, and trace the design onto the shrink plastic using a permanent marker. Some shrink plastic is smooth on both sides. If it is smooth on both sides, sand one side of the shrink plastic lightly. Sand it from top to bottom, and then sand from side to side. The rough texture grabs the colour, and holds it in the plastic.

  3. 3

    Cut out your design, and cut any necessary holes into the jewellery before shrinking using scissors, a craft knife or a hole puncher. Cutting holes for jewellery findings after shrinking requires a drill or rotary tool.

  4. 4

    Add colour to the design by colouring with markers, colouring with coloured pencils or painting with a thin coat of acrylic paint. Use one of these colouring techniques or all of them together. Mixing the media gives the jewellery different textures and colours. To ensure that paint or marker colours dry thoroughly before shrinking, give them at least 20 minutes of drying time.

  5. 5

    Bake according to manufacturer's instructions. Each brand of shrink plastic is slightly different on the baking temperature. If you are using a heat gun, place the coloured shrink plastic on a heat resistant surface. A baking pan on top of the stove works well. Turn on the heat gun, and move the heat back and forth across the plastic. It bends, wiggles and folds until it shrinks all the way flat again. The colour is permanently embedded in the plastic.

    Adding colour after shrinking

  1. 1

    Paint colour on shrink plastic jewellery with acrylic paint. The paintbrush allows colour application directly to areas where you want it. Sometimes the design shifts slightly when colour is applied before shrinking.

  2. 2

    Draw colour onto the shrink plastic jewellery using permanent markers. The colour from the markers does not rub off or wash off if water hits the jewellery.

  3. 3

    Spray a light coat of workable fixative over the jewellery when you finish adding the colour. This seals the paint or marker, and makes it look shiny.

    Adding colour with a printer

  1. 1

    Make your jewellery design on the computer. Clip art designs or designs made in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint or Gimp work well for jewellery.

  2. 2

    Open a word processing file, and add several different designs on one page. Remember the image shrinks to half of the original size.

  3. 3

    Put a piece of shrink plastic into an ink jet printer, so the rough side gets the ink printed on it. Laser printing shrink plastic isn't available. Go to "File" on the computer, and click on "Print." Click on "Properties," and find the option for printing the design as a draft or fast copy. Set the computer to print draft or fast, and print. The ink looks darker when it shrinks, so you want a lighter amount of ink like you get in draft or fast mode.

  4. 4

    Cut out your designs with the scissors. Make sure you cut out any holes for jewellery findings using scissors, hole punchers or a craft knife. Cutting holes for jewellery findings after shrinking requires a drill or rotary tool.

  5. 5

    Bake according to manufacturer's instructions. Each brand of shrink plastic is slightly different on the baking temperature. If you are using a heat gun, place the coloured shrink plastic on a heat resistant surface. A baking pan on top of the stove works well. Turn on the heat gun, and move the heat back and forth across the plastic. It bends, wiggles and folds until it shrinks all the way flat again. The colour is permanently embedded in the plastic.

Tips and warnings

  • If your shrink plastic is white instead of clear, the black marker will still show through the paper. If it doesn't show through the plastic, hold the plastic, with the paper behind it, up to a window, and trace the design.
  • Some people use pastel for colouring their jewellery. It gives the jewellery nice colours and texture, but even when it is sealed, the colour rubs off onto clothes, hair and skin. Use pastels for colouring shrink plastic at your own risk.

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