Monday 5 May 2014

Experiment with Shrinkies: Eiffel Tower

With no huge 'projects' on the go at the moment, I've been experimenting and trying out ideas that are fairly new to me and I have finally got round to something that sent me back to Year 5 crisp packet keyrings: Shrinkies.  Annoyingly found in the kids section of my HobbyCraft, I have been missing out!

What I Used:
Shrinkies Crystal Clear [£4 HobbyCraft]
Sharpies Pens: Black, Brown, Gold, Bronze
Printed Image

There are a number of versions of the shrink plastic that you can buy, white, coloured and my weapon of choice, clear.  A pack of six 262mm x 202mm sheets cost £4.00.

Taking no risks, I traced the outline of my Eiffel Tower from a printed photo [recognise it from this?]  I was pretty worried about drawing straight on to the plastic with permanent pen, but tracing rather than free-hand gave me a bit less to worry about.  I chose three Sharpie shades to create my Eiffel Tower:
The dark brown was used for the main lines on one side of the plastic:
Then the design was turned over to decorate: and rose gold for the detail:
...and black for a bit of definition:
Once I was happy with the picture, it was time to cut the shape from the plastic. I left a generous 1cm gap and tried to follow the shape of the Eiffel Tower as I cut, rounding corners to prevent any sharp edges.  This was fine, until I came to some slightly trickier areas:
The plastic is thin and I found it would tear if I tried to bend the plastic around my cutting, rather than move my scissors around the plastic:
I tiedied the tears up by cutting as close to the drawing without loosing the uniform gap I'd created - but for the future, I think I'll stick to straight lines where I can or take better care with smaller scissors that will give me more flexibility, rather than rely on the flexibility of the plastic!

Cutting out done, I places the Eiffel Tower on to a lined baking sheet and popped in the oven hesitantly at 175 degrees C.  The instructions had warned the plastic twists firsts, shrinks with a bend and then settles: 
Shutting the oven door, I sat and nothing happened.  Unsure of how long it would take, the process depends on the size of the plastic you have put in the oven.  After 5 minutes, I went to check the instructions and no sooner had I turned away and returned, my Eiffel Tower had turned in to this!
I didn't get to see the bending and twisting!  I didn't get to panic it had all go wrong! I didn't get to see it shrink!  Magic. 

What happens now? Is it done? Do I take it out before it melts? I decided to turn off the oven and leave the Eiffel Tower for 5 minutes to cool down, but couldn't stop myself from checking it every minute as it did so.  Shrinkies plastic shrink to 7 times smaller and 7 times thicker than the sheet you start with.  It's pretty hard to scale that in your head when creating the picture, but for reference, the A5 Eiffel Tower I created ended as a 6.5cm Eiffel Tower - but look how it keeps the detail:
I wasn't sure when colouring the design how much would hold, show up and whether the 'baking' process would melt it all away, but I'm amazed at how it has all stayed and still shows:
...and the tears in the plastic made during the cutting out process have pretty much blended:
...I'm pretty fascinated by the stuff.

Future versions of these are becoming cake toppers, stationery/noticeboard supply embellishments and little layered accessories for an idea I hope to share soon.  Go buy some.

see you next time x

P.S - As you read this, I'll be running a Half Marathon in memory of my nephew, George - please send me sunshine and fast running vibes!
If you'd like to sponsor me (Sophie), we have raised an incredible amount for SSNAP, who fund the Neonatal Unit at John Radcliffe, Oxford.  Any donations will help support the lives of babies, like my nephew:


  1. I love shrink plastic, it amazes me every time I use it! I also use a heat tool to shrink it, I find it quicker but can blow around a bit. Love the Eiffel Tower design. Good luck with Half Marathon, such a great cause.

  2. Shrink plastic is so much fun!

    I hope your run went really well :)

  3. Thank you both! It was an amazing day and we all made it round in one piece :) x
    Now, on to the next one.........!


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