Sunday, April 14, 2013

DIY Shrink Plastic Snowflakes

I'm very excited about the current challenge at Jingle Belles. It's their THIRD ANNUAL EARTH DAY CELEBRATION and we are encouraged to use a recycled element on our cards.  So I created snowflakes from recycled plastic.   I have been collecting #6 plastic (the kind bakery items are sold in here in the US).  I have a stash of this lovely plastic. Using a heat gun and this plastic gives me an inexpensive version of SHRINK PLASTIC. (Hint: if you don't own a heat gun, you can shrink the plastic on a baking tray in a low temperature oven.)  

I began by running a piece of this # 6 plastic through my die cut machine, using a snowflake die.  My machine doesn't always punch all the way through so I pass it through the machine a few times. Next comes the fun and magical part.  I lay the snowflake on an old cookie sheet, grab my heat gun and a wooden skewer.  I hold the heat gun about 4 four inches away from the plastic snowflake and heat the plastic.  I use the skewer to hold the snowflake so it doesn't blow around the tray and to help shape when necessary. As the plastic is heated it starts to shrink. I love this part. It is just so fascinating to watch!!!  It starts to shrink and almost looks like it will shrivel up and be ruined, but once it shrinks all it can, it starts to unfold itself. Sometimes I use the skewer to encourage the plastic to lay flat or in a certain position but generally if I work slowly and don't rush the process the results are fabulous.  Here are a few photos to help you visualize the process. 
These is the full size snowflake just after it was cut from the #6 plastic with a die machine.
I move the heat gun around making sure all parts of the plastic are heated evenly.
Once it flattens make sure it is cool before touching it! It's very hot and sticky!

This photo shows the snowflake during the final stage. It is starting to flatten out. (Sorry for the blurry photo.)
As my snowflakes started to cool, I loosened them from the tray with the wooden skewer....(DON'T be tempted to touch is VERY HOT).  Next I adhered my snowflakes to a green embossed panel using a glue gun. I wrapped the bottom of the green mat with three strands of silver thread and added a handwritten sentiment. I attached this to a white panel with lightly green inked outer edges. I adhered this to the cardbase and also inked around the edges of the cardbase.

Cardbase: Paper Studios, Cardstock: Recollections, Die Cut/Machine: Fiskar's Fuse, Embossing Folder: Darice Swirls, # 6 Recycled Plastic, Silver thread,Ink: Memento Bamboo Leaves, White gel pen: Sakura, Adhesive: AdTech Glue Gun/Sticks, Scotch ATG, Wooden skewer, Baking sheet, Heat gun

Thanks for visiting!


  1. wow, Brenda - a fabulous tutorial and card - thank you for photographing it all and explaining - love your card!

  2. Wowza ... who knew ... now you'll have me checking the number on all of my plastic before I recycle ... what a fabulous embellishment you've created ... always glad to have you join us at jingle belles.

  3. What a cool idea, and your card is perfect! I can't wait to try this out.

  4. these look so good! the silver thread is the perfect final touch

  5. now see... in the verrrrrry distant past i had tried shrink plastic, and mine curled right up JUST LIKE THAT and i burnt myself prettttttty well by trying to uncurl it, and got frustrated, and never tried it again! if only i had read this lovely post RIGHT THEN i'd've known to have a skewer ready, that curling is NORMAL and reverses itself, and to be PATIENT till i got to the end of the process!!! and *NOW* i also know i can save some #6 plastic and try it FOR FREE, as well! (b/c i am ALWAYS in favor of recycling, especially when there are BAKED GOODS involved!) ;) thank you missus, for this informative post!!!

    ps: i probably should also have said how much i ♥LOVE THIS GORGEOUS CARD♥!!! probably ought to have said that FIRST, actually! b/c it is amazingly lovely, the combination of the shrinky acrylic snowflakes, green embossed paper and silver thread is ♥BEEEEEEAUTIFUL♥, which is why i came here in the first place; then i just got carried away with the knowledge of shrinkdom, sorry!!! :) :) :)

  6. I love this technique! Your card is absolute beautiful! I'm going to go rummage thru my recycling now for some #6 plastic and give this a try!

  7. Great idea! I'm going to go rummage through my recycling bin now for some #6 plastic and give it a try this morning! Absolutely beautiful card! Thank you Brenda for your creativity!