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A vintage bracelet of shamrock charms can be your "lucky charms" for this St. Patrick's Day!

Shamrock charms craft photo
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Shamrock Charms Bracelet craft image)
Pull that corned beef and cabbage out of the oven! It's time to bake some shamrock charms.

Shrink plastic has a wee bit o' magic in it. Originally marketed in 1968 ("Shrinkies!") as a child's toy, artists and crafters soon discovered it could be much more. Technically, it is polystyrene plastic (code 6/PS) stretched into a thin sheet or film. When heated, its surface shrinks about 60% and its thickness increases about nine times. Images drawn, stamped or printed on it become very dark and vivid after shrinking.

There are many brands, types and colors of shrink plastic. The kind you need for these shamrock charms is 8.5" x 11" sheets, white, ink jet compatible. One side is treated so you can print on it with your ink jet printer. The manufacturer's packaging should provide complete instructions.

Just remember these basics. When printing full-color images on shrink plastic, adjust your printer's ink settings to lighten the image by about 50%. Set the print medium for transparency. Don't forget to punch a 1/8" hole for a jump ring in each shamrock charm before baking.

In the FREE Vintage Image Download, we give you two complete sets of the seven shamrock charms. The first set is in full color, so you will need to adjust your printer to 50% inking. The second set is already lightened by 50%, so you can print it with your printer's normal settings.

Materials for these shamrock charms

  • Crafts & Supplies at joann.com!
    Vintage Images (FREE PDF download).
  • Shrink plastic sheet, white, for ink jet printers (see Tips).
  • Metallic gold paint pen (see Tips).
  • Bracelet, gold link (see Tips).
  • Jump rings, gold.
  • Detail scissors.
  • Needle-nose or jewelry pliers, two pairs.
  • Tweezers.
  • Stapler.
  • Hole punch, 1/8".
  • Sandpaper, very fine (320 or finer).
  • Parchment paper.
  • Clear acrylic spray.
  • Cookie sheet.
  • Oven (see Tips).


  1. Choose which PDF page of the shamrock charms images you want to print on your ink jet printer: the 100% inked set or the 50% inked set. Adjust your printer settings accordingly (see Tips). Print one set of seven charms onto the white shrink plastic. Let the ink dry for at least an hour.
  2. Shamrock charms craft, step 1Cut out the charms with detail scissors. Be slow and careful, the plastic can tear.
  3. Punch a 1/8" hole near the top of each charm. We punched ours on the right side of the center leaves, to avoid putting holes through the girls' faces.

  4. Shamrock charms craft, step 2Cut two 3" squares of parchment paper for each charm. Place each charm in the center of a square, cover each with the second square, and staple the paper together closely around (not through) the plastic charms with 4-5 staples. Lay the parchment packets on the cookie sheet, charm image side down (see Tips).
  5. Preheat the oven and bake the charms according to the shrink plastic instructions on the packaging. It should take about 3-5 minutes for the charms to shrink and flatten (see Tips about flattening curled plastic). Let them cool for a few minutes, then remove them from the parchment paper packets.
  6. Shamrock charms craft, step 3Gently sand the edges of the charms if they feel rough. If the backs of the charms are very glossy, sand them to a matte surface. Hold the charms with tweezers and paint the back sides and edges with the metallic gold paint pen. Let dry.
  7. Spray both sides of the charms with one or two coats of clear acrylic spray, allowing them to dry between coats.

  8. Shamrock charms craft, step 4Open the jump rings with pliers. Thread them through the holes in the charms and links in the bracelet, and pinch them closed.
  9. This is your basic shamrock charms bracelet - but don't stop there. Add emerald green beads, buttons, or other Irish charms like harps or Celtic designs. Jangle your shamrock charms bracelet while you dance a jig!


  • Shamrock charm craft detailCraft and art supply stores usually carry shrink plastic or shrink film. Major brands include ShrinkyDinks, Grafix, Digi-Shrink Plastic and Poly-Shrink. You can also find it online at suppliers like Joann.com. Be sure you are buying the ink jet version. If you can't get the ink jet version, try this: Use very fine (320) sandpaper, sanding in every direction, to thoroughly dull one side of the plastic sheet. Print on that side of the film and let the ink dry for an hour. Handle it very carefully by the edges when you cut it out.
  • All metallic gold paint pens are not created equal. To color the edges and backs of these shamrock charms, you need a brush point and very fluid ink. If it dries blotchy, you may need to let it dry for an hour and add second coat. Our favorite metallic pens for this are Permapaque by Sakura Color Products.
  • We didn't see a gold link bracelet we liked, so we bought 60" of gold link chain and gold lobster clasps. With about 7.5" per bracelet, that should make about eight bracelets.
  • When you open the PDF file of shamrock charms images, you will see two pages. The first page has the images at 100% coloration. The second page has the same images at 50% coloration. When printing on shrink plastic it is necessary to reduce the image inking by about 50%, because the shrinking process concentrates the colors. Normally, you use 100% colorized images and configure your printer to ink them at 50% (transparency mode, draft mode, or low ink). Every printer has a different method to achieve this. We thought it might be easier for you if we also provide images already colorized at 50%, so you can just print them normally onto the shrink plastic. Your choice!
  • What's with these little stapled parchment packets? Well, shrink plastic has a tendency to curl during heating, and often sticks to itself. Intricate shapes like these shamrock charms are the worst of all. These little stapled sleeves of parchment paper hold the shrink plastic flat during the shrinking process. You can flatten them further when you remove them from the oven by immediately placing a flat-bottomed glass or rock on each packet while it cools. 
  • The shrink-plastic-savvy among you will scoff, "Why waste your oven? Just shrink the plastic with an embossing tool." A wise choice for those with Grade-A embossing tool (a small, electric heating tool) skills. Hold the plastic charm down with a wooden chopstick or craft stick and wave the hot air over the charm until it shrinks and lays flat. We prefer our oven method with the parchment paper sleeves because we have had charms curl up under the embossing tool heat and fuse into a shamrock nugget. But you may be far better at it than we.
  • If you want to make more shamrock charms with other vintage images, you may discover that large images with bright colored backgrounds work best. Just use one of the charm designs we provided as a template. But why stop with St. Patrick's Day? Make heart charms for Valentine's Day. Egg charms for Easter. Let your imagination run wild.
  • More ideas? Make it a personalized name bracelet. Color the back of each charm with light green permanent marker, like a Sharpie. Let it dry, then write each letter of a name in black. Use letter stencils, if you wish. Or, how about punching two holes in the center before you shrink the charm, and then sew it on like a button? Or clip one on as a zipper pull. Or make St. Patrick's Day earrings!
Visit our St. Patrick's Day Crafts page for more ideas. You'll also find St. Patrick's Day vintage images in our Vintage Image Download Gallery.

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