Friday, 31 October 2008

Shrink plastic playtime

I've been playing with shrink plastic. Please excuse the awful scans, my Hewlett Packard all in one scanner, copier, printer doesn't like scanning anything which isn't completely flat.

I shrink all my shrink plastic on a thick wooden board. If you shrink it on top of paper, it will probably stick to your paper half way through the process and you'll never get them apart!!! I think a craft sheet base is also good.

Lots of people have trouble with shrink plastic, I used to when I used the Milwaukee type heat gun and I don't have any trouble since switching to the 'hair dryer' style of heat gun. I also take the heat away once the plastic starts to 'move' and bring it back to specific spots to try and control the process. If it starts curling, aim the heat to the underside of the curl and it will curl back and flatten out. If you do this throughout the shrinking process, it is unlikely to curl enough to stick to itself. When you think it;s finished shrinking, if it's not flat enough for you, you can use a pallette knife to flip it over and give the back a bit of heat. Flip it back, and if it's still not as flat as you'd like, lay an acrylic block on it and leave it to cool under the block - if you press, you will also squash the plastic and it can go out of shape.

Remember when adding colour to shrink plastic that it intensifies hugely and often darkens as the plastic shrinks. If you lightly sand the shrink plastic before colouring, it 'grabs' the colour better. Use a nail buffer or the sanding blocks Lucky Squirrel sell for the purpose, or very very fine sandpaper. sand one way, then again at 90 degrees, so the sanding is 'cross hatched'. If you want your shrink plastic to have holes in it, or a particular shape, cut it out before heating, as you won't be able to cut it afterwards.

If you want all over colour, add just enough that you can only just see the colour, and you will probably find you've added more than you planned once shrunk! You can use chalks (probably the best think to colour clear shrink), colouring pencils (good for background colour), pigment inks (good for background colour and images, but pretty opaque), Brilliance inks (good for everything, but need to dry overnight for images), Stazon (great for images).

Remember, you can click on the images to see larger versions showing more detail.


This pair of ATCs use 3 different colours of shrink plastic in 3 different ways. The ATC on the left has embellishments made from clear shrink plastic, stamped on with Galaxy Gold brilliance ink (and left overnight to dry - this ink is marvellous on shrink plastic but it really needs that drying time). The colour is added on the same side as the images, also Brilliance ink (but you don't need this to dry before shrinking, as it doesn't matter if it smudges. Shrink, and edge with a Brilliance ink.

The ATC on the right has a randomly shaped left over piece of black shrink plastic (although colour probably doesn't matter here) which I coated with a pretty thick coat of Stewart Gill Pearlise (Black Pearl) . This technique works will all Stewart Gill paints, I haven't tried it with other fabric paints, and it doesn't work with ordinary acrylics, as far as I know. It's something to do with the binder in the paint, I think. Anyway, once the paint is on, just heat and shrink (more carefully and slowly than usual, in stages if necessary, you want it to curl as little as possible). The paint ruffles and creates an 'encrusted' texture on the surface of the shrink plastic. The texture also has some shimmer, which means if you get your colour combinations right, it can look like bronze which has been under the sea for centuries...

The other piece of shrink plastic was white, but I added some ochre pigment ink to soften the background colour, then stamped the image with black Stazon ink. This is is fantastic for using with shrink plastic - it dries very quickly and is permanenet, so great for images.



This dangly decoration design is based on a lovely gift Maggi sent me. She made hers in paper, I decided to try it in shrink plastic. I used clear shrink plastic, and stamped all images with black Stazon. I added background colour using Colorbox pigment inks. The smallest squares were punched using an inchie punch, the others were careful measured and cut squares. It's all 'Lucky Squirrel' brand shrink plastic, and I wasn't careful to keep the orientation of the shrink the same after I had punched. The shrink plastic shrinks ever so slightly more in one direction than the other, so my carefully measured squares have come out as diamond shapes. No problem with that, but I would have liked it if they had all been short and fat or tall and thin. I will make another, ensuring I keep all the shrink the same way up!

I have noticed that tall oblong pieces often shrink into parallellograms, or shrink 'off square', and squares often turn into diamonds. I wish they'd invent a shrink plastic which shrank in completely true proportion to the original. This effect shows more and more the larger your piece is. So if you don't want it to be noticed, work with pieces which are less than 2 inches in any dimension before shrinking!

4 comments:

  1. Love all your pieces and thank you so much for the fabulous tips! I needed them LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely work and thanks for the tips.

    xxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have just found your blog via your comment on the Yahoo Group. I love your dangly decoration made from shrink plastic - it takes this product out of the craft slot and puts it definitely in the art slot. I'm now off to read some more of your very interesting posts.

    ReplyDelete

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