Part 1: HOW TO- Doodle Charms – Jewelry from recycled plastic

[2 Jul 2008 | By | 48 Comment(s) | 80,793 views ]

All Shrinky Dinky Test Lab Posts

The Shrinky Dink Test Lab – Part 1
This started so simply. I was going to make these charms and that was going to be that. The project was to make cool looking jewelry, rather than childish stuff. Well, it grew from there as after I was finished I got some more ideas, and kept trying things, so stay tuned for more fun successes and failures playing around with recycled plastic shrinkies!

The Shrinky Dinks Doodle Jewelry

Doodle Charms
Here’s a quick fun project! You don’t need to be able to draw more than a doodle, and you end up with pretty & interesting jewelry!
These charms can be used for earrings, necklaces, or whatever you’d like. They are made out of plastic recycled from a to-go container (#6 plastic). The directions below are for 2 matching ones, which could be earrings. Because plastics & pens vary, you might start out with a test piece so see how much your plastic will shrink, and how your colors come out. Or just jump right in! It’s only trash.


Plastic: It needs to be marked #6. Many to-go containers seem to work.
Sharpie Markers in a variety of light colors, plus black.
Hole punch
Toaster (or regular) oven, preheated to around 250 degrees F

Cut out two pieces of the flat parts of the plastic container in the size/shape you want. Mine was about 3 inches x 2 inches. You could also do circles or other shapes, but you need to round off any corners because corners will get sharp when shrunk. (note: all plastic doesn’t melt the same and keep the same proportions, so cut both pieces running the same way. e.g. if you’re doing 2 rectangles, cut out one large rectangle and cut it in half to ensure your pieces run the same way. If you’re doing circles, be sure to mark the top and put your holes in the same place.)

On each one, use a hole punch to make a hole in the top center.


Draw your doodle design on each one with the black sharpie. The designs don’t need to be the same, and be creative. Just a series of shapes and doodles. If you’re nervous about drawing it, practice on a spare piece. And you can always draw something on paper and trace it on to the plastic. Remember, shrinking hides a multitude of sins!

Randomly color in the design using a variety of light colors. Colors get way more intense when shrunk. The black will smear if you touch another color to it, so be careful. Again, shrinking will hide most issues.


Place your colored piece on a square of parchment paper, on a tray in your toaster oven. Watch the magic happen! Don’t worry… it will curl up. and curl up again. then finally settle down to the smallest size.


If it’s not quite flat at the end, you can press it down flat immediately. Note, depending on your plastic, it may not be quite the same proportions as you started with.

Another fun option: Punch holes in the top and bottom of the charms, and you can string them together into dangly earrings.

Note: these aren’t sealed, so treat them gently… We’ll get to the hassles with sealing in the next experimentation phase!

If you try this (or have your own previous attempts!) comment here with a link… Also, all commenters for this series of posts (links or not) will be entered in a drawing to win one of the featured attempts!

Introduction to the Shrinky Dinky Test Lab
Part 2: The Experimentation Begins!
Part 3 – More experiments!
All Shrinky Dink Test Lab Posts

Note: the idea of shrinkies from to-go plastic is certainly not original – i think i heard it first on Curbly

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48 Comment(s) »

  • Carol Browne [] :

    Genius idea! I’ll keep checking your progress for sure. Those are very cute…and with number 6 plastic! Who knew?

  • CraftyHope [] :

    I LOVE doodling on shrink plastic. I’ve tried some on the #6, but it does not always turn out as I wish when I try to shrink it. Cool stuff!

  • Heather Sitarzewski [] :

    OOOhhhhhhh! So Fun! I have questions!!!!
    How long do you leave it in the oven? Have you tried #1 plastics or are they too thick? I gotta go eat out so I can get a to-go container! ;) I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the info, fun examples and all around artsy goodness =)

  • Dot [] :

    there’s not really a set time. If your oven is preheated to around 250 or so, you should see curling almost immediately. Just keep watching, and you’ll see it start to flatten out (if you’re doing a long piece, it may turn on it’s side and curl up in a ring shape -that’s ok, just flatten it out as soon as you remove it.) Once it looks thick and has stopped shrinking, you’re done. It may take all of 20-40 seconds!

    #1 plastics will cloud and not shrink up, at least the ones i tried.

    good luck, and I wanna see your attempts!


  • ValGalArt [] :

    They turned out beautifully :)

  • jerseytjej [] :

    YES! I finally found it! Now to find number 6 plastic!

  • kt [] :

    This is terrific! My daughter is a real recycling fiend (YAY!) and also love doing crafty stuff with me.

    Game on for this weekend! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Mona [] :

    Wow this is a great tutorial for kids I just love your site I am glad I found it.

  • Eileen [] :

    Those turned out beautifully! I’ll definitely try this. As for the sealing, could you possibly shellac it or does the marker just smear?

  • kpotragic [] :

    Hey I tried this over the weekend and had great luck!

    I got on the computer and printed up some great monograms and copied those onto my shapes and created some fun designs around the initials.

    I punched a hole in each corner and stitched them like a button to some business card holders I created with a free Amy Butler pattern.

    Instant personal gift!

  • Kelly [] :

    Great job. I actually just tried this myself and I was amazed at how easy and spectacular the results were. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous [] :

    What a GREAT Idea! I’ve read through all your trials. I wonder if you heat up the hole punch if it will keep it from cracking when your varnish/shellac it? Thanks for sharing!
    Janet in Austin, Texas

  • mommybug29 [] :

    Wow, this is so cool! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Han [] :

    I’ve been experimenting with recycled plastics, tried some yogurt pots and they did shrink unevenly, but found some other plastics marked 6 as well, like ice cream containers and cake wrappers, so gunna try them nxt and see what happens.

  • Beth-threetreesart [] :

    Ok, that’s like the coolest idea I’ve ever seen! I can’t wait to make a bunch…thanks so much for posting this (my poor toaster oven has experienced some crazy craft experiments…this might do her in!)

  • The Forest [] :

    This is a great idea! I used #6 plastics, but mine just curled up and didn’t shrink much. I couldn’t get them to un-curl either. Oh well, I’ll try again!

  • Dot [] :

    Yeah, sometimes the particular plastic just doesn’t work – i had that same thing happen when i tried a black #6 plastic bottom from a sushi container. But the clear top worked perfectly. so it can be hit or miss.

  • Han [] :

    Yer yesterday i tried some 6 icecream containers, didnt work at all well, just curled up. You hav a few seconds 2 uncurl them while its hot then its stuck. I also tried a cake container which worked perfectly, so it is trial and error till you find something that works.
    Handmade Jewellery

  • ale [] :

    hello I just saw that and I really want to make them, but I don’t understand where did you get the plastic?? or from wich products :O can you tell me please, thank you

  • A glance at my world [] :

    Thank you for posting this! I was wondering how this was done :)

  • Juliaaah [] :

    I was very inspired by your blog, so I set out to do some of my own. I went through the whole house and found all types of type 1, type 4 and type 5 plastic but no type 6! I had to go to the supermarket to buy a packet of plastic plates (the art and craft stores I went to didn’t have shrink plastic). I cut out and drew on a few pairs of would-be earrings but after leaving them in the (preheated) oven for almost 10 minutes, they didn’t shrink! Just wrinkled a little. Maybe I need to use clear plastic? (The plates are white opaque.) I will give it another go, thanks for the tutorial!

  • Dot [] :

    yes, i had issues with the colored plastic too, when i tried it. If it doesn’t work after about a minute, you can pretty much give up on that particular one.

    I’ve heard, but not tried, that disposable plastic drink cups work well, especially if you want to do circles out of the bottom of them.

  • Dot [] :

    yes, i had issues with the colored plastic too, when i tried it. If it doesn’t work after about a minute, you can pretty much give up on that particular one.

    I’ve heard, but not tried, that disposable plastic drink cups work well, especially if you want to do circles out of the bottom of them.

  • Jennifer Perkins - Naughty Secretary Club [] :

    These are awesome – Crafty Hope sent me your link. Dang it I just threw away some #6 plastic. Did you use a dedicated toaster oven or can you cook food and plastic in the same toaster?

  • minerallove [] :

    I wouldn’t recommend using the same toaster oven for food and plastics, some plastics leak toxins. Dedicate one toaster oven for your craft projects. You can probably find a cheap one from a second hand store/garage sale, etc. for this purpose.

  • Surf Jewels [] :

    It is all a bit hit and miss, but more experimenting is needed.

    check out my jewelery at:

  • Alex [] :

    Oh my god! I love them!!! I have a bridal shower coming up and you just gave the best idea for the favors!

    Quick question, is it ok if I use wax paper instead of parchment?


  • Рашель [] (elsewhere) discussed this :

    Awesome site, great project. This 1 of course, get the prize: HOW TO- Doodle Charms – Jewelry from recycled plastic

  • Tracy [] :

    this looks like fun! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Ciel [] :

    Is there a problem with fumes and/or smoke when you bake them?

  • Dot [] :

    I’ve never had a problem with fumes or smoke. But I would always be conscious of fumes when melting plastic — well ventilated area and all that jazz.

  • beadinggem [] :

    Awesome tutorial! Very inspirational. I will link in an upcoming post

  • FAAF [] :

    I just want to say that though this is a fantastic idea for reducing wastes, buying plastic specifically to do this is merely encouraging the production to continue. Also, use of an oven or toaster oven for the plastic, but then letting it air out is sufficient for your health. There is no reason to buy a new oven for this craft…one must remember that when you guy another oven, you are, yet again, encouraging the production of wastes!

  • link removed [] :

    Really… this is very interesting articles to read.. thank for your sharing, very beautiful and useful web.. have you some socila networking to follow like twitter..?? maybe this will be more useful for other people

  • Dot [] :

    thanks! You can follow me on twitter @dotatdabbled

  • leslie [] :

    im a little dissapointed i bought the shrink a doodle kit for my grandaughter for christmas………..and we did the doodles on monday the 27th of dec. and we colored and cut all of them out and not one of them even look the way they should

    not one of the even shrunk down to what they were suppose to be
    it think these suk and should be taken off the shelf in order to
    not get another childs hopes up and you can stop ripping the public off

  • Dot [] :

    You do realize this post has nothing to do with the storebought shrinkie dink kits, right? this is how to do something similar with #6 plastic.

  • ana [] :

    Hi! That`s lovely!
    Could you please tell me if shrink plastic is a special kind of plastic?
    I`m from a Spanish speaking country and dont know where to get that :/

  • dot [] :

    Hi Ana,

    For these I used thin disposable plastic containers, like you’ll sometimes find prepared foods packaged in, or used as ‘to-go’ boxes when you buy food from restaurants. Look for clear , thin plastic labled with the #6 to indicate the type of plastic.

    You can purchase Shrink Plastic (e.g. Shrinky Dinks) sheets if you can’t find the right kind of containers:

    Hope this helps!

  • makaila [] :

    i dont want to shrink it but my plastic is thicker than what you use so how do i make a hole

  • Dot [] :

    I’m not sure. Mine was thin enough to use a hole punch. Try googling from making holes in plastic.

  • Amanda [] :

    I am new to the idea of shrinky dink art and was wondering what other materials besides permanent markers can you use on the plastic? I’ve heard that colored pencils would work, but I was wondering if there were any other ideas floating around out there :)

  • the creative muslimah [] :

    Hi!!! Wow what an awesome idea :) shrinky sinks here in Denmark cost a fortune, so I’ve never tried it, but always wanted to. this is just great!
    Do you have to use sharpies, or can u use other markers? And isn’t it dangerous to heat up thr flammable markers? :o

  • Raisa mcleary franci [] (elsewhere) discussed this :

    Dabbled | Part 1: HOW TO- Doodle Charms – Jewelry from recycled plastic via @dotatdabbled

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