Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Shrinking Hearts: a guest design post at Try it on Tuesday

I was thrilled and honored to be asked by Avril (Mrs B) and Yvonne (Meggymay) to be the guest designer of their latest theme.

Recycling is possibly my favorite of all topics.  Don't get me started, because I'm an Earth Day baby.
Therefore, it was easy to say I'd LOVE to be a guest designer for this latest challenge.

Let's start with a short tutorial. From back left clockwise:
Heat tool
Sharpies, or other PERMANENT ink pen, colors of your choice
Cardboard box (or small wooden block) to press the heated piece flat
#6 Plastic
Heart template cut from a used cracker box

How do you know you have #6 plastic?  It will show you on the plastic itself.   You can ONLY use #6 plastic for this project.  No other number will work.  That's because today we are going to shrink this plastic.

Every plastic container or bottle has a recycling symbol.  The symbol is a number, ranging from 1 to 7, within the recycle triangle as shown in the photo.  #6 is polystyrene or styrofoam, thus the initials PS.  It is notorious for being difficult to recycle, and therefore, not especially good for the environment.   Most recycling programs won’t accept it, so using it in our art helps us find other ways to help the environment.  You will find it used in egg cartons, meat and veggie trays, and holding baked goods.  Although I try to avoid ALL plastic as much as possible, sometimes it's just not possible.

In keeping with my recycling efforts, I cut a template from a cracker box.

It took awhile, but I finally found a way to get two hearts from a single sheet of #6 plastic.  Please note, I used two alcohol inks to color this piece.

Next, I cut two hearts using the template I had previously created.

I did the same with a piece of clear plastic.  It's hard to see the lines of the green pencil I traced on the plastic.  After all that fiddling and rotating, I was only able to get four hearts from the plastic containers I had available.

I used my black Sharpie to create Xs and Os.  Originally, I only drew one line and in the end wished I had stopped with that single line.  However, Sharpies use PERMANENT ink, so once it's on the plastic, there's no way to remove it.  Perhaps, unlike me, you might consider what you will write on your heart before you commit Sharpie to plastic.

This shows the before and after of a heart that has been shrunk and one that is still in its original state.  Unlike real shrink plastic, #6 plastic has a tendency to shrink more in one direction than the other.  Depending on where you cut your heart, you might get a more deformed or more believable heart.

Once I shrunk the plastic, I used the empty box to flatten it.  More on that later.

For my second colored heart, I wanted something a bit simpler.

When I tried to flatten it using the cardboard box after it had shrunk, I was unable to see the heart and was unable to flatten it properly.  As you can see, a portion of it flipped onto itself.  That's why I recommend using a small wooden block, which is more stable and easier for you to see where the plastic is on your table.

For the clear plastic pieces, I chose my red Sharpie.

Again, the cardboard box failed me and I wasn't able to flatten the melted plastic properly.

As I explained before, you can see that the hearts shrunk in different ways depending on the position of the plastic when it was cut.

As an aside, I learned something vital and valuable when I shrunk these hearts.  In the past, I have been able to reheat the plastic and straighten the bent or deformed shrunken object.  You can usually heat the plastic from the reverse side to straighten it.  That was not the case this time.  This time, I overworked the plastic red love heart to the point where it hardened so hard, it had no more "shrink" left. In fact, it actually turned brittle.  No amount of heat would flatten or straighten it.  It seems I did the same with all the hearts.  I was just going to have to live with the deformities, since I had no more shrink plastic large enough to create more hearts.

To demonstrate how these hearts could be used in mixed media, I created this journal page.  The sentiment reads:
They recited their vows in the Garden of Love.
I started with a TH paper doll couple who were getting married.

I used TH washi (or he calls it "tissue") tape on which the couple could stand.  I also turned

my shrunken hearts into flowers.

The stems of the "flowers" were made of more tape, this time gold arrows, rather appropriate for the hearts, I thought.

Here are a few more detail shots.

For this page, I started by spritzing some of my handmade shimmering mists on the 110 lb card stock substrate.  I computer generated the words and colored them using water soluble crayons.   I then added the TH paper dolls that stood on washi tape.  Finally, I positioned the shrink plastic hearts on the page.  I tied the hearts to more washi type tape that had arrows.

I am so grateful that you stopped by today.  I am super pleased to have been invited to be a guest designer again, too.  It was especially wonderful since recycling is something I live for.  Please join me for the next two weeks at Try it on Tuesday with your recycling ideas and also please join me at Art Journal Journey through the end of February with your Hearts inspired art.

24 thoughtful remarks:

Cath Wilson said...

Nice bit of recycling, Elisabeth. I always find the back of a wood mounted stamp works well for Shrink plastic - as does an acrylic mount. But they look good as they are...love the xoxo written across them. Simple but very effective. Great splatters!
Cath x

Let's Art Journal said...

Wow, what a fantastic recycling project! I love the hearts that you made they all look so amazing on your page, it was so much fun seeing how you made them too - perfect 😁. Thanks so much for the inspiration and for joining us as Guest Designer over at Try it on Tuesday! Hugs, Jo x

Marjut said...

Lovely recycling idea.

Valerie-Jael said...

Wonderful recycling project! Have a fun day, Valerie

Mrs.B said...

A fabulous project Elizabeth and a wonderful piece of recycling. I'll be scouring the plastic for #6 before it goes out to recycle. The fact that they didn't straighten out flat just makes them look more like flowers in your Garden of Love.
Thank you for joining us as our Guest Designer at Try it on Tuesday and with such a wonderful project.
Avril xx

Barbara said...

Good for you to give recycling so much priority in your life! We all try, I hope, but you are surely the best at it. A very pretty page, I especially like the shimmering spritz. It pulls everything together.

CJ Kennedy said...

Lovely recycled page. And I enjoyed the shrinky plastic tutorial.

Meggymay said...

Wow an amazing recycling technique, I love those hearts they have a lovely shine and those flower petals turned out great. A fantastic page and lesson for us all, on how if we think and look closely, many plastic items can be recycled in such a beautiful way.
Thank you for joining us as our Guest Designer for this theme at Try it on Tuesdays, your page is inspirational.
Yvonne xx

Cindy McMath said...

This is lovely Elizabeth! I think the heats are great - after all, is love ever perfect?

My name is Erika. said...

I didn't know #6 lastic would shrink. You nailed this challenge for certain. Love those hearts. They came out great and really let you marry the 2 challenges together so well. This is a beautiful page and I am glad to have you for our designer this challenge. Thanks so much for joining us. Hugs-Erik

kathyinozarks said...

I really enjoy learning new things from your tutoials-didn't know about the plastic technique for shrinking-fun great piece loved the sentiment too

Divers and Sundry said...

Re-using the plastics so gloriously is the perfect way to keep plastic out of the landfill. Trash to treasure :)

Rosie said...

Absolutely gorgeous, Elisabeth

Sharon Madson said...

Thank you for the tip about the #6 plastic. I didn't know that it would be ok to shrink. Great tutorial, Elizabeth. Your project turned out lovely!

Cloudia said...


Jeanie said...

This would be a most beautiful card or gift for a wedding couple. Nice work and very well explained tutorial!

froebelsternchen said...

Simply amazing Elizabeth!

aussie aNNie said...

You are the re cycle lady, love this.xx

Iris Flavia said...

This made me laugh.
We married in Perth. And had no idea how it works!
English is not our Mother Tongue and friend´s eyes were on us!
No use in learning every word (we did), our celebrant spoke them first and we just repeated.

7 different plastic-containers, what???
I thought it´s weird over here...

I love your work!!! Beautiful! My sweet tooth opens and eye!

Sorry I´m a tad late...

Neet said...

Good idea for recycling Elizabeth. I think a good thump down with a block of wood I have for drilling into works well but I do remember doing just that once with proper shrink plastic. I gave it a real good old wallop and sent it all out of shape. Silly me. Mind you I like them crumpled, it adds character to your page.
Thanks for the reminder about the cheaper version of shrink plastic.
Nice colours on your page.
Hugs, Neet xxx

Mia said...

Elizabeth, congrats for your Guest DT. I love your page and I enjoyed the tutorial. I knew about plastic number 6 but never tried to shrink it. Maybe I will try it some day. Hugs!

pearshapedcrafting said...

There aren't enough "wow' words to say what I think about this page Elizabeth, yet here I am a week late in getting to you! I was of course delighted that you agreed to be our Guest Designer and knew that you would come up trumps(if you will pardon the trump word!!!) I still haven't tried to shrink carton plastic...but I will ne day! Hugs, Chrisx

Tracey@Hotchpotchcreations said...

Just had to pop on over before the challenge finished to take a closer look at your shrunken recycled hearts, their quirky edges just add to their character Elizabeth. It's amazing how many things around we think can be recycled but can not, using them in our artwork is a positive way of helping take the strain on our environment. Fabulous GD piece & apologies for being so late.
Hugs Tracey xx

Carol said...


It's been a long time since my last visit

wow love your heart will be seeking out my number 6 plastics now !! awesome project love it!!

Have a lovely week xx