Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shrinky Dink Earrings

I don't know if you can remember what shrinky dinks are, or if you even made them growing up (seems to be a generational thing). Going into the craft store and asking for shrinky dink paper, I got a confused look from the girl my age, however Moms and Aunts know what I'm talking about! 
 I have the vague memory of making them in my Grandma's kitchen and being amazed.

The concept is somewhat magical – you color or paint on a sheet of shrink plastic, place it in the oven, and after a minute or two, it is a tiny version of what it used to be! I don't know what makes this so fascinating, but here I am, almost 23, and still amazed with every shrinky dink I make!

I saw a favorite crafter of mine make a ring out of the material, and it completely inspired me to make my own earrings! It is super simple and you can essentially create anything you want.
Here is the tutorial on how to:

1. You will need sheets of shrink plastic which you can buy online here, or in any craft store.  
But you take a sheet, and trace down 2 matching shapes to be your earrings.  I highly recommend having something to outline, so your earrings are symmetrical.  Here is the template I used.  Just cut it out, and trace. 
(They will shrink up more than half the size, so always test out your idea before coloring/designing!)

2.  I used acrylic paint on these babies, but you can use sharpies or just about anything that will show up on the paper.  Just paint over the shapes whatever colors and design you choose!

 3.  I don't think it will come as a shock to anyone that I am obsessed with mermaids!  Their fins were my inspiration for this project.  So I painted in some details That resemble a mermaid's scales.

4.  Cut out the shapes, and use a regular hole punch to punch 1 hole in each earring right at the top for the actual earring piece to go into.  Do this before shrinking !

5. The directions that came with the shrink plastic said to place the earrings on a piece of paper bag on a cookie sheet.  Just follow the directions for the plastic.  I keep a very close eye while it's in the oven, and it gets really warped at first (don't panic), then it will lay flat, at that moment, I take them out of the oven.

 6.  As soon as they come out, put a glass over top as they cool off to ensure their flatness.  

 7.  If making dangle earrings, you will need to obtain fish hook earring backs.  I bought a pack of about 100 for $3.00 and I am intending on using all of them.  As soon as you make your own earrings once, you'll realize the possibilities are endless!  With these, just need needle nose pliers to open up the rings at the bottom.

 8.  Feed your earring through and use the same pliers to close it back up.

 9. Voila!  You have made your very own shrinky dink earrings!!

I got a little carried away and ended up making another set - just some everyday, abstract earrings!  They will be perfect with my future art teacher wardrobe.

Here is a pair I have made a few months ago.  
For these, I just cut a circle within a circle and used sharpies to make the design.  

Don't be afraid to experiment with different designs and materials - that's where the fun happens! 


  1. oh my god!!!!! lemme get those red ones!!!

  2. I love them all, but the mermaid ones are my favorite! You can make me a pair for

  3. Great Project!!! i think I need to try this!

  4. let me know what you end up creating!

  5. I have no idea what shrinky dink is and I'm confused because you said it was paper and plastic. Do they come out hard so they wont break or tear easily?

  6. anonymous, shrinky dink "paper" is a plastic sheet. they come out rock hard and thicker than the sheet originally was.

    love this tutorial. i have a pack of shrinky dink paper, though i don't think they call it that anymore. i was making keychains with it for awhile. so nostalgic. oh, how many 80's nights i spent in front of the toaster oven watching my smurfette shrinky dink shrivel down, curl up, then flatten out. great idea on the earrings and love love love the red ones!!!

  7. where did you buy the fish hook earring packs?

  8. I think i got those at Michaels, but any craft or jewelry store should have them!

  9. OMG!!! im 12 yrs old, and me & my friend are making shrinky dink earrings to give all of our teachers tomorrow in a oragami box. we are making pic frames for the male teachers, & necklaces for female teachers who don't have pierced ears. we are making oragami animal earrings for the end of the year. please excuse the bad grammer & punctuation and spelling mistakes. im typing very fast & have to go! YOU ARE SO COOL!! I might use your scale earrings project in the future! THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!

  10. I have heard that plastic #6 also works in a similar fashion, so you can always raid your recycling bin too