Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recycled styrofoam trays

Some of you may remember I've used Number 6 clear plastic to make shrink art.  You can see examples here, here, and here.  Today, however, I'm going to try to shrink Number 6 styrofoam to make some embellishments.

I found this on the internet at least two years ago, but lost the link when I lost my previous computer hard drive.  I can see the advantage to having a Pinterest account for just that very reason!  Because I couldn't find the link, I had to rely on my memory in order to make these.

One thing I know for sure is the styrofoam has to be labeled Number 6.  You'll see it clearly on the underside of these veggie trays.  Because I'm a vegetarian, I don't have access to meat trays like most people, but I have managed to save a few veggie trays when I buy veggies that way.

You can also use take-out containers, but be sure they are washed with soap and water, then allowed to dry.  I never save the bottoms, where the food sits, but you might choose to do so. You can see the recycled sign, but it is not as obvious as it is on the veggie trays.

I cut pieces from the styrofoam tray that varied in size.  Some were less than an inch, others about an inch or less.  I was going for an organic feel, not anything precise.   I got out two embossers, but decided on the smaller of the two.

Unfortunately, I "embossed" the letters a bit too deep,

but didn't realize it until I tried to shrink the pieces.  This was a big mess!!

Next, I decided to take my embossed and painted styrofoam to the basement, where I placed the pieces on a tray

and placed them in my "studio only" bake oven.  Some of you may remember I explained I was given this oven in this condition, and chose not to clean it.  After all, the polymer clay, and now styrofoam, don't care.

Since it was so dark in my basement, I used the flash to show I set the oven at 350 degrees F, although with the parallax effect from the camera angle, it looks like it is set at 375 degrees F.

Unfortunately, these were as bad, if not worse.  This styrofoam certainly didn't find "Sanctuary."
I know others had good luck with theirs, I just don't remember who.  If you have tried this technique using styrofoam, please let me know in a comment.  Also, please let me know if it was successful or not.  I'm on a mission to make something useful from styrofoam, but shrink styrofoam doesn't appear to be the answer.
Today is Day 10 of my mission to recycle, reuse, or reinvent items to use in our crafts or home, including #6 Styrofoam.

10 thoughtful remarks:

fairyrocks said...

Thanks for sharing. Many years ago, before recycling and plastic numbers, I worked at a piano refinishing shop. I do know that when the stripping material hit those coffee cups they disintegrated. Thanks for sharing your fun experiment. PS Don't breath the fumes in when you are cooking that stuff. Very bad for you. I use my styrofoam sheets to insulate and stuff cracks around my 'Playhouse' before I caulk them. I also use it in my outside flower pots for insulation to winter over some plants, and as underneath shapers to build flower beds.

Halle said...

I've never done that but I do remember as a kid shrinking Styrofoam cups in the oven for some craft project.
I use my trays as a palette sometimes.

Caterina Giglio said...

I just saved one for print making... sorry these disappointed you... but it IS fun to experiment! you never know what you will find...

sandee said...

You always come up with the most unique experiments, and I appreciate the show of failures as much as success. I never would have thought to try that with styrofoam! Hope the weather is nice over your way, spring has sprung over here! waving hi from the hills of North Carolina ♥

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I use the foam trays I get as lap trays when I am beading...they keep the little seed beads from running away!

Kim Dellow said...

Mmm, I wouldn't be too happy about heating them, all those nasty plastics, but what about altering them into shadow boxes, shrines or decorated trays? I made a little shrine a few years back from a plastic veg box if I rem rightly. Good luck on your re-purposing. Kim

fairy thoughts said...

I dont know about this either it sounds a bit risky but well done for trying... just going to look at the plastic link
thanks for sharing and have a good week
janet #25

Dianne said...

we can always count on you to give us the real idea that this was even a possible project. doesn't heated Styrofoam smell pretty bad? well, you really tried. hope someone knows where to find the technique. Enjoying your series of recycled & upcycled projects!

Cheryl Moyer said...

Here are a couple of links with the 'recipe' for styrofoam 'shrink dinks". The things that differ from your experiment are 1) the oven was set to only 300 [and the shrinking seemed to occur in just a few seconds], 2) the marks were made with permanent marker, and 3)the pieces were not placed on any metal, but were laid on a piece of brown paper bag and then placed onto the oven rack. Hope this helps. :)

Patsy Paterno said...

I've used styro several times by making designs on it with a pencil and using it as a stamp. I don't shrink it or anything. It's OK!!! Especially if you are making art with kids! Patsy from