Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cricut charms made with shrink plastic - Part 3

Here's the moment you've been waiting for... the actual shrinking!  There will be a few pictures, but most of the content is in videos.  I actually created a YouTube account for this!

Okay - to sum up where we are at this point:  I created shapes to draw and cut on the Gypsy using the Hide/Contour feature.  I hacked up my favorite pen to get the shapes drawn on the plastic, and I cut them out using the normal Cricut blade.  Oh - one thing I didn't mention yesterday... since the plastic was thick, I had the Gypsy cut everything twice.  On the cut screen, there is a way to say how many times you want the Cricut to cut each shape.  I don't know if I needed to cut each twice, but it worked just fine.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!  After that, I colored the charms with colored pencils.

I took all the charms to the kitchen and grabbed my embossing gun, teflon sheet, and chopsticks.  Chopsticks?  Yeah, chopsticks.  The embossing gun gets very hot, and if you don't hold the charm down, it will fly away (see the videos for many, many examples of this).  When I started heat embossing my stamped images, I found that a chopstick is perfect for holding things in place without burning your fingers.  I'm sure there are fancy-schmancy tongs or something available for this, but a chopstick will work just fine.  If you don't have chopsticks, now is a perfect time to get a Chinese (to quote Lily Allen) and ask them to give you  some chopsticks.  The Egg Foo Young at YaYa China is excellent.

Sorry... I'll stop drooling on the keyboard and show you the videos.  This first one is a short video showing you how the plastic shrinks up:

Steve shot a number of videos while I was shrinking the charms, and it was quickly obvious that a blooper reel was needed.  I can't help but giggle each time I watch it, and I hope it makes you smile, too.  It is pretty long, so be warned that if you don't have a high speed Internet connection.  Even if you do, it might take a while for it all to load.

Apart from the funny bits, you'll see some difficulties that can occur when shrinking plastic and even one or two that worked out quite well!

I also have a few pictures of the shrunken charms.  This first one shows a number of them around an unshrunk one so you can see how much smaller they get (the final charms are about 45% of the original size, according to the package):

You can also see how the small parts with the holes get a little twisted, on the charm with the tree and the red one with "t".  If the hole is more embedded into the charm, it works better.

The colors intensify nicely, but there can be a bit of smearing due to the heat or some little remnants of colored pencil that were brushed off of other charms (that you don't see until it's too late).  They also don't necessarily end up completely flat.  However, this is an artsy project, so that's okay.  That's what I tell myself, anyway!  There are no guarantees with shrink plastic.  Okay, after that disclaimer, here are a few more pictures:

If  you make any shrink plastic charms, I'd love to see them!  E-mail pictures to, and I'll put them up on my blog.


  1. Ha ha! So funny! I had to watch twice! Great job Traci and Steve! Oh, and Pixel too!

  2. This is GREAT! Thank you for sharing the "bloopers"! I had to watch "Bloopers" first! LOL

  3. hahahaha!!!!! that was so funny......just a thought but do you have tweezer bees, maybe could those be used to hold it???? I so want to try this.....thanks fo the video

  4. thanks for the videos! Really enjoyed meeting you at the Circle meet and greet at CHA. Thanks for the instructions on how to do this and I know the videos are going to help everybody out. The bloopers were a hoot! Hope to see you again soon...

  5. Gret information! I saw your bracelet briefly at the circle event my brain just could not take everything in, I reallllly don't get out much lol. The blooper video had me in tears. That sort of thing happens to me all the time... that's one reason my name is Ohhh Snap.

  6. Hello, again! I met you in the secret circle room where we previewed upcoming cricut carts. Thanks so much for sharing this info about your bracelet. Looks like you had fun making it. I may have given up 1/2 way through! Great work!

    The Monogram Mom (Cricle MB)

  7. Love this idea. I've got a few tips for you...use a clean tuna can for shrinking...the pieces don't fly away as easily...for flattening them out after shrinking, I use my brayer while they're still hot. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Traci - this is just fab!! Did you really make a charm for EVERY cartridge you own? I'm really intrested in making this but I'm thinking that 65 charms will be too many on my small wrist! LOL Also, what size were your charms before shrinking? Thanks! Ann

  9. Wow! This an awesome idea! I have got to try it! So many possibilities!