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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Upcycling and Sanity-Saving: DIY Plastic Charms

It's Spring Break time up in here and that can only mean one thing: I'm about to have a meltdown because WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH MY KIDS FOR THE NEXT 9 DAYS??

Luckily, the weather is nice so they've been able to play outside a lot, but there are always lulls in between activities or those situations wherein someone runs in crying because her friend is no longer her friend until five minutes later when they're friends again. It is in those moments they need to be distracted with something else and I am drafted as Reluctant Cruise Director.

Never fear, fellow RCDs, I've got you covered.

The other day, I saw a Cleverly video on Facebook. It showed a person cutting up a plastic takeout container, marking it up, punching a hole in it, and putting it in the oven where it shrinks down and--like magic--becomes a thick plastic charm!

What is this sorcery, I wondered? (Turns out, it's pretty much a homemade Shrinky Dink-type situation. I had Shrinky Dinks as a child but I'd completely forgotten what they were until about five minutes ago when I started typing this.)

It looked like it could be good fun, so I saved the video and, a few days later, my husband went out to lunch and brought home half a sandwich in a plastic container. BINGO. I stashed that bad boy away to use at a later date. (To be clear, I'm talking about the plastic container here and not my husband.)

Today was that day.

Even though I'd watched the video, I was kind of dubious this procedure would work. But guess what? It totally worked! And it was fun. And now I have an idea for a writing/reading-themed charm bracelet I want to make.

You MUST try this craft. 

Here's what you need:

- the flat part of a clear plastic takeout container
- colored permanent markers (preferably fine point- I used Sharpies)
- a hole puncher
- scissors
- parchment paper
- sheet pan
- oven (330 degrees F)

The process:

1. Preheat oven to 330 degrees F and line a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.

2. Using scissors, cut the flat parts (top and bottom) out of a clean plastic takeout container.

 Plastic takeout container
The flat part cut out of the plastic container

3. Using permanent markers, either trace or draw freehand a picture of your choice onto the plastic. We traced some -- the shark, the goldfish, the cat in the boat, the cake -- and drew the rest free hand. I suggest doing all the outline work in black and then filling in the other parts with color.

4. Punch a hole into the plastic above the drawing and then cut out the picture. I left 1-2mm of clear plastic around the periphery if the outlined portion and around the hole. (If you squint, you can sort of see it in the photo below.) Place onto the parchment-lined pan.

Full-sized pieces on the pan
5. Bake for 3 minutes. 

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes before handling (the plastic is warm).
You'll notice the flat plastic is no longer flat.

I took a couple pictures of the before and after so you can get a sense of how they shrink down.

 4 pieces arranged on my hand to show scale

The same 4 pieces now teeny-tiny and all fitting on my hand

From this...

To this.

And that's all there is to it! Charm-ing, no? ;-)

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