Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Lets Shrink It!


On this, the last day before bEARTHday, I'm going to shrink.  

Plastic, that is.  You can ONLY use #6 plastic for this project.  No other number will work.  How do you know you have #6 plastic?  It will show you on the plastic itself.  
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, at least those in the states, 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.
Let's do a bit of shrinking.

I have punched two 2-inch circles using my circle punch.

I laid one of the plastic circles over the stamp I was planning to use.  I wanted to be sure it would be the right size.  It was perfect, in fact.

Sadly my stamping skills leave something to be desired.  Also, like a dufus, I used DYE ink, rather than Staz-On, or another permanent solvent ink.

Originally, I had planned to color the image in, but I realized the dye ink wasn't going to dry until the plastic was shrunk.  That put a stop to that idea.

All that was left to do was clean the stamp and return it to its location.  Have I not mentioned how anal I am at times? 

This was my choice for the second circle.  My dear friend Julia of WOYWW fame sent this mandala stamp to me.  

I have never used it until now.  I really love the hearts on the mandala points.
This was when I realized I had messed up by using dye ink.  The ink smeared when I picked the plastic up.
It was time to clean and put the mandala stamp away.

That's when I got out my permanent solvent ink

to use on the next images.

As usual, my stamping abilities leave something to be desired.

At least the permanent ink won't rub off on my arm. 

Then it was time to clean the stamp using rubbing alcohol and put it away.

Now it was time to shrink the plastic.

Sadly you can see once I shrunk the plastic, it started to roll on itself.  When I tried to straighten it, it wouldn't flatten.  I fear this is a bust.

At least I have two more chances to get a decent shrink plastic image.  I used colored pencils to color the snowman, the hat, the mittens, and the scarf.

This is how much the piece shrunk.  It didn't flatten too well, though.

The second piece was even worse.  It folded back on itself and no amount of heating would release it from itself.  This was the piece I was counting on to be perfect.

Ruminations (aka things I should remember):
1. Use a permanent ink, not a dye ink when inking shrink plastic.
2. Use a see through clear heavy acrylic stamp block to flatten the shrink plastic.

This is Day 21 of 22, where I shrunk # 6 plastic in an attempt to keep it out of the landfill and turn it into art.  Unfortunately, my various attempts were woefully inadequate.  However, I am grateful you stuck by and watched as I created these failures.  Not everything I make will be a winner, I fear.

16 thoughtful remarks:

J said...

Elizabeth, I have some shrink plastic and that curls too but if you keep going it usually straightens itself, never thought of using plastic out of the recycling, you really need something big enough or else they end up far too small to use!
Steve was told off in.San Francisco for putting polystyrene in the recycling, he didn’t realise, he apologised to the man and after that when he emptied the bin he would wave to steve and give him a thumbs up!
Have a great day
Jan S

Iris Flavia said...

Wow, your recycling-system is even more complicated than ours!

You made me laugh again, I love your style of writing!
("... my stamping skills leave something to be desired..") - good one. I really laughed out loud on this.
Also "That put a stop to that idea." - wonderfully written, really. It´s a joy.
I´d like to see your arm.

You crack me up with this post!

I didn´t get how you shrink, but really ... it´s cute, and you made me laugh so hard.
Love the last one! (I really do).
It is a winner!

Valerie-Jael said...

Well, at least you tried. we can return all plastic bottles to the stores, there is a deposit of 25 cents and you get it returned when the bottles go in the machine. Other plastic gets recycled when you put it into the yellow containers we all have. Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

Elephant's Child said...

Love your work - and even more I love that you admit to misteps (NOT mistakes) along the way.

Laurie said...

I love that you use recycled stuff! That’s my kind of creating ! You never gave up, that’s the main thing and we all learned from your adventure! I know nothing about stamping or shrinking plastics so it’s all fascinating to me! Love this!

Barbara said...

Shrinky Dinks! So interesting and a learning experience!

Annie said...

Well, there you have it! It certainly is not often we get to read and experience failed projects that end with a failed project. Ha! I’m going to wager that we’ve all been there at some time or another. I start calling myself all kinds of names when I grab the obviously wrong ink pad type for the project. But what the heck, sometimes it surprises you and works for some reason. Most times not though. Your project may have been a bust, but I certainly learned some stuff I did not know previous to your post.

Mae Travels said...

Happily, many food service and food production establishments have stopped using styrofoam because it’s such a blight on the environment. It’s a real challenge to think of a use for the stuff. Yours is an interesting way to do it!

best... mae at

DVArtist said...

Ohhh this is just too cool and I love what you created here.

Divers and Sundry said...

Styrofoam is evil and should be abolished. That said, my preferred egg brand comes packaged that way :( Your experiment was interesting to read, and I can't imagine what you could do to avoid the curling problem other than making the curling part of the design plan.

So cold here! with a low last night of 34! Brrr!!!

Sandra Cox said...

Well, I learned something new today, dear Elizabeth. I didn't realize recyclables had a number.
Thanks for sharing your endeavors.

Jeanie said...

How interesting! I learned something new today, too!

Olde Dame Holly said...

That's what I call a "Pinterest Fail." Sometimes, we see others have posted, especially on Pinterest, fabulous ideas -- only they don't post the reality! If it fails, they fake it, Photoshop it, or use some other way to disguise that it doesn't exactly work "as advertised!" That's why I really appreciate your true-life attempt, and showing the real outcome. I still very much like the little "charms" you made, and think they would look very pretty as part of a dimensional collage!

aussie aNNie said...

wow so beautiful love these colours too. x

My name is Erika. said...

Nice shrink plastic pieces. They'll be fun to use in your art. hugs-Erika

Empire of the Cat said...

I like the idea of using this number 6 plastic, I will have to see if I can find any here. How did you shrink it, in the oven or with a heat gun or something else? Elle xx