Jaie (jaie) wrote,

The Ups and Downs to Shrink Plastic

When things work out with me and shrink plastic, they work out VERY well. When they go wrong? They go VERY wrong.

So because this blog is about learning as much as my place to vent and yak my little fingers out, I'm going to go with the bad first.

Now, last year, I came up with a jointed doll that I dubbed the “Bondage Babes”. They're for the kinsters who shop at Dirty Girl Designs  and I've never said otherwise. Sometimes those in the lifestyle like a more fun way to declare their interests and the Bondage Babes are still cute enough to be taken as just a casual necklace.


As you can see, they are super simple, they just have a protective glaze on them and have basic features. They aren't meant to be real detailed.

So, I decided that given the abilities of the inkjet shrink, I would computerize the BBs. Easy right? Well, yes and no. I figured it'd be hit or miss and it is still a work in progress, but my friend Bunnykissd who is a graphics genius (I very honestly try to avoid working with this sort of thing, let other, far more agile brains do this) took the babes and put a few bodies onto a page that I could print out and then cut out the bodies. Giving me several bodies to a page instead of stamping them out by hand. (my next step is to somehow get my Cricut cutter to do what I want for once and cut the Babes out) so yay for an easier life! And this morning she sent me a sheet with several bodies on it.

I was thrilled! I printed them out onto some regular paper and here's where I made my first mistake. I knew what the torso (including the head) measured. And I didn't measure my print. I was so eager I said “yay! Looks great! and used my last piece of inkjet shrink to print out the sheet of bodies.

Reader, I should have measured before printing. (yes, I'm reading Jane Eyre, bite me) Turned out that they are an inch too short. And with shrink plastic, this can make such a difference. There is no room for error. None.


Now, on the left, is a ruined Babe (ain't they all?) and on the right is the new Babe. Now, you can see, this difference is massive. Oh, I'm not crying in the corner, I am a little upset, with myself, not with the Babe or the graphic, I should have measured first before printing onto the precious shrink. I also don't feel this is a massive issue, just annoying. I can't work with this size, not at pre-shrunk size, that's fine, but at shrunk size, this is tiny for things like jump rings. I'll probably just print on the other side some rings that I can sell as “oops” because of the dolls printed on the back. I'll figure something out. This does show how crucial size is in shrink plastic. So the Babes will be delayed until Bunny and I can figure this out.

Now, onto the good.

So I've been doing buttons with my inkjet shrink, I'm now officially out and will be trying another brand. I still feel Shrink Dinks brand is way too expensive and am trying a couple sheets of the Grafix brand, that I can buy in packs of 50. Yes, I'm semi converted to the inkjet instead of the hit or miss of printing on regular shrink. I'll still be using regular shrink, but whatever that coating is, it makes it worth the $2 a sheet.

Now, my deep love in crafting is metal and resin. I love both. But there is an instant gratification to shrink plastic that I can't deny. It also impresses people, when it shouldn't really, that you are far more creative than you really are.

Buttons are easy. I can't stress this enough. I find images I want, get them into the shape that works, and punch them out with a 2” punch. I then punch holes and then shrink. I add UTEE and then sand and drill. Done. Not complicated. In fact I feel pretty guilty for charging $2 each for buttons but I've had several people tell me that if anything, I'm not charging enough. I've looked at other buttons made of shrink plastic and sometimes I tend to agree. Don't get me wrong, hand made art and drawing it yourself generally beat computer images hands down, but that's if they are good. And what I've seen being charged $3 each for? Ain't good.

I'm unsure if I'll sell many buttons one at a time, I plan on keeping them in groups of 6 for the $12. I feel most people want at least 6, and yes, $12 is a bit much for buttons, but I also feel you aren't likely to go to JoAnn Fabrics (there, just two buttons can run you $15 if you follow that link)  and find Elizabeth Tudor portrait buttons.

Yeah. You heard me. Elizabeth Tudor. (yes, she became Elizabeth I of England later)

A friend and fellow SCAdian (again with SCAdian friends wanting buttons!) had admired what I'd done so far when I mentioned that I'd intended on doing some of Elizabeth I of England. She began to squeal. The “meat colored dress” portrait was our favorite. Even better, she wanted the buttons for a mundane (non SCA) sweater. So I ran up a sheet of 12 fairly quickly.


You can see why lots of people love this Flemish School painting of the young Elizabeth Tudor.  The composed young ginger here is clearly secure, yet at the same time, vulnerable. Not yet the rigid, scarred and scary queen she later became. Her salmon colored dress is pretty, and you can see she has her mother's graceful neck (if still intact, unlike her mother's)

This is a case of when it works, it works great. I'm nearly out of ink in my printer, but you know what's nice with shrink plastic? Inkjet or regular, colors get stronger and darker when you bake. So while there is some variation in these buttons, it doesn't subtract from them in any way.


I really can't wait to do these “portrait” buttons with shanks. Without anything to detract from the design (the holes) the full glory of portraits like these will be amazing. I also intend on experimenting with crystals around the edges to get a more lush appearance. Think of the old miniatures with pearls or gems around the edges and you'll have an idea. But at the same time, the buttons with holes are still good, after all, for a kid's sweater, they'll be on firmly. Shank buttons aren't always the firmest of things.

So there's without a doubt good and bad runs with projects, I mean, mistakes I make with resin and metal casting are epic at times. Metal I can luckily re-melt, resin mistakes are pretty harsh, there's no fixing those. Shrink plastic however, because its so cheap (well, the non inkjet variety anyhow) mistakes are more lessons in swearing. I'm annoyed, but I can move on fairly easily.

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