Wednesday, April 30, 2014

shrinkin' and dinkin'.

I LOVE shrinky dinks! Back in the day, my wife made a lot of really cool jewelry with it. We also did ornaments for our xmas trees a while back that are still some of my favorites to put up:)

This is the first year, though, that I have attempted to use the material with kids at school on a grade level scale. Seven 5th grade classes with 30 students each... let's do this!

I discovered the work of Vermont based artist Erin Inglis online. She makes way cool jewelry with shrinky dink material. I love her use of shape, pattern, and color. Her work fits well with the 5th grade investigation of unity on conceptual and visual levels.

I've been sharing numerous pieces by Erin with my classes, pointing out her repetition of shape, line, and color to create a sense of unity. If she uses just one shape in a piece, she will break up it's interior with smaller shapes. We are also looking at how she sometimes assembles a few seperate pieces to create a larger whole, like a necklace and that these pieces don't have to be exactly the same. This variety of form and/or concept makes her pieces more interesting to wear or see.

For this project I asked the students to create a piece or several pieces that are based on the use of one or two shapes a few times. Each students has a 4x5" piece of plastic to work with. I emphasize that if they want a statement piece, something big, that they need to draw it as big as possible because the material will shrink in my toaster oven to 1/3 of it's original size. I think this has been the hardest part for the students to grasp. As they watch their pieces shrink in the oven, they are continually amazed at how small their pieces become.

I have students sketch out ideas and then trace the ones they want to use on the plastic. They can then outline in sharpie and color with crayola color sticks. The pieces are cut out, baked, and then strung, hung on ear rings, or rolled as rings.

The kids are loving this project. I'm going to have a hard time getting kids to part with their wearables for our art show at the end of the year!

If you are looking at a cool science connection to this project, you could talk about why the shrinky dinks shrink like they do. You can also tie in math and fractions since the material shrinks to 1/3 of it's original size. Students can estimate the final size of their designs in a quick sketch and then compare that sketch with the final "dink".

even this old guy got into the act;)


  1. These are awesome Don! Can't wait to give it a go!

    1. I can't wait to see what you do with your kiddos!

  2. So much fun! I love the idea of shrinky dink statement pieces :). I've used shrinky dinks at school and at camp for years, but have never tried color sticks. What are you using for the ear wires and necklace cords?

    1. I loved your monoprints on shrink plastic from earlier this year. These are fun! I got a bunch of fish hook ear rings from michael's that are pretty easy to attach the plastic to. I'm using waxed black thread and glittery thin lannard (sp?) for the cords. The color sticks give a really vibrant finish, especially on the matte/frosted side.

  3. Sax sent me two packs of them this year by accident & said I could keep them! I can't wait to try them with my kiddos!