34 days until Christmas and I still have so many things to do. Pretty much everything. I should take my own advice and start busting out some cool handmade stuff to give to all of the people on my list. Maybe I will make a few of these shrink plastic pendants. They are super easy and look really awesome. Best of all, if you have any #6 plastic take out containers, they are just about free.

More & more restaurants are switching to #1 and #2 plastic for take out boxes, and that is wonderful because #1 & #2 can be easily recycled, in fact those are the only 2 kinds my recycle bin accepts. If you do happen upon some #6, save it to make shrinkies. You will be helping the planet by not tossing more plastic into the trash and you get to enjoy a super fun and easy craft. Win-win. If you can’t get your hands on #6 plastic, shrink plastic is readily available at craft stores and in the craft department of Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

awesome necklace

You will need:
#6 take out container or store-bought shrink plastic
Colored Pencils
Hole punch
Craft heat gun
Jump rings, wire, cording, or something of your choosing from which to hang your pendant.

Make sure to do this craft in a well ventilated area!!

Let’s start with the design. I wanted to make a cool pendant for my Mom’s birthday gift, and I happened to have a fierce pic of my Mom and my dad Bob. First, I had to tweak it a little by making it black & white and adjusting the contrast. You can find out how to do this by Googling “picture to stencil”. Here is a great Instructable on the subject. Don’t get hung up on trying to get a super smooth edge. You will be tracing the pic and therefore can take a whole lot of liberties. Alternately you could find some cool clip art. Your original image should be no bigger than 5″x5″and probably no smaller than 3″x3″.

Make sure your container is very clean. Cut out an appropriately sized piece, making sure there is nothing stamped on it (like a big ol’ #6). You should lightly sand it with fine grit sandpaper if you are using colored pencils or if you want a more opaque look but if you use Sharpies sanding is not necessary. Tape the plastic to the image you’re tracing. This is a very important step, trust me. Start with the outline and the big obvious shapes, then add in the details. For a monochromatic piece like this one, make sure you leave blank spaces, in the hair for example, to give it texture. If you are using a Sharpie you will notice that it “marks” areas that you have already colored. Don’t worry about that, you will not be able to tell once you’ve shrunk it down.

these sunglasses look all googly now, but they won’t in a minute

If you make a mistake you can erase it with a Q-tip barely moistened with rubbing alcohol. Once you are satisfied with your design, trim the plastic down to a neat shape and punch your hole. Or holes, depending on how you want your pendant to hang. I made mine into a beaded necklace, so I punched a hole in each top corner. A regular office-type hole punch is perfect. The holes will seem huge but shrink down to just the right size. Place your plastic on a heat proof surface and shrink it with your crafty heat gun. You could use a toaster oven, if you have a spare, but I wouldn’t shrink plastic in something I cook food in, and the heat gun works great.   ***Before you shrink have a flat-bottomed glass handy (with no lettering on the bottom!)  so you can press your piece flat if you need to, and try not to blast the plastic off the table with the forced air of the heat gun. It is going to curl up so don’t freak out. It should straighten itself out, but if not, you can tweak it into submission while it’s still hot. And it will be very hot, so be careful.

Here is the result! Store bought shrink plastic may give a soother finish (although I wouldn’t know, I’ve never bought the stuff) but I like this imperfect “wabi-sabi” finish. If you’re feeling extra creative, colored pencils work great as well and are permanent once you shrink them. My Mom loved her necklace and I bet your Mom would too. I think I will now go make some shrink plastic ornaments for my tree.