How to Color Shrink Plastic Jewelry

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Put bright, beautiful colors on shrink art jewelry using colored pencils, markers or acrylic paint.
Put bright, beautiful colors on shrink art jewelry using colored pencils, markers or acrylic paint. (Image: color markers image by Kostyantyn Ivanyshen from Fotolia.com)

Shrink plastic jewelry is easily made by anyone. The plastic design is cut out, colored and heated, producing a piece of jewelry. Color is added to shrink plastic jewelry with markers, pencils, acrylic paint or computer printers. People add color to the jewelry before or after shrinking with an oven, toaster oven or heat gun. The color stays on the jewelry better when color is applied before shrinking, but color added after heating stays on the jewelry if well sealed. This project requires no special skills.

Things You'll Need

  • White paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher or craft knife
  • Black permanent marker
  • Assorted colors of permanent markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Oven, toaster oven or heat gun
  • Workable fixative spray

Adding Color Before Shrinking

Draw design for the piece of jewelry twice the size you want the final design on a piece of white paper with a pencil. Get the design totally worked out on the paper before transferring it to the shrink plastic sheet. Trace over the final design with a black marker.

Place a piece of shrink plastic on top of the design with the rough side facing upward, and trace the design onto the shrink plastic using a permanent marker. Some shrink plastic is smooth on both sides. If it is smooth on both sides, sand one side of the shrink plastic lightly. Sand it from top to bottom, and then sand from side to side. The rough texture grabs the color, and holds it in the plastic.

Cut out your design, and cut any necessary holes into the jewelry before shrinking using scissors, a craft knife or a hole puncher. Cutting holes for jewelry findings after shrinking requires a drill or rotary tool.

Add color to the design by coloring with markers, coloring with colored pencils or painting with a thin coat of acrylic paint. Use one of these coloring techniques or all of them together. Mixing the media gives the jewelry different textures and colors. To ensure that paint or marker colors dry thoroughly before shrinking, give them at least 20 minutes of drying time.

Bake according to manufacturer’s instructions. Each brand of shrink plastic is slightly different on the baking temperature. If you are using a heat gun, place the colored shrink plastic on a heat resistant surface. A baking pan on top of the stove works well. Turn on the heat gun, and move the heat back and forth across the plastic. It bends, wiggles and folds until it shrinks all the way flat again. The color is permanently embedded in the plastic.

Adding Color After Shrinking

Paint color on shrink plastic jewelry with acrylic paint. The paintbrush allows color application directly to areas where you want it. Sometimes the design shifts slightly when color is applied before shrinking.

Draw color onto the shrink plastic jewelry using permanent markers. The color from the markers does not rub off or wash off if water hits the jewelry.

Spray a light coat of workable fixative over the jewelry when you finish adding the color. This seals the paint or marker, and makes it look shiny.

Adding Color With A Printer

Make your jewelry design on the computer. Clip art designs or designs made in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint or Gimp work well for jewelry.

Open a word processing file, and add several different designs on one page. Remember the image shrinks to half of the original size.

Put a piece of shrink plastic into an ink jet printer, so the rough side gets the ink printed on it. Laser printing shrink plastic isn’t available. Go to “File” on the computer, and click on “Print.” Click on “Properties,” and find the option for printing the design as a draft or fast copy. Set the computer to print draft or fast, and print. The ink looks darker when it shrinks, so you want a lighter amount of ink like you get in draft or fast mode.

Cut out your designs with the scissors. Make sure you cut out any holes for jewelry findings using scissors, hole punchers or a craft knife. Cutting holes for jewelry findings after shrinking requires a drill or rotary tool.

Bake according to manufacturer’s instructions. Each brand of shrink plastic is slightly different on the baking temperature. If you are using a heat gun, place the colored shrink plastic on a heat resistant surface. A baking pan on top of the stove works well. Turn on the heat gun, and move the heat back and forth across the plastic. It bends, wiggles and folds until it shrinks all the way flat again. The color is permanently embedded in the plastic.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your shrink plastic is white instead of clear, the black marker will still show through the paper. If it doesn't show through the plastic, hold the plastic, with the paper behind it, up to a window, and trace the design.
  • Some people use pastel for coloring their jewelry. It gives the jewelry nice colors and texture, but even when it is sealed, the color rubs off onto clothes, hair and skin. Use pastels for coloring shrink plastic at your own risk.

References

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