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
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
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
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
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.
out the charms with detail scissors. Be slow and careful, the plastic
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
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
cookie sheet, charm image side down (see Tips).
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.
sand the edges of the charms if they feel rough. If the backs
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.
Spray both sides of the charms with one or two
coats of clear acrylic spray, allowing them to dry between coats.
jump rings with pliers. Thread them through the holes in the charms and
links in the bracelet, and pinch them closed.
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!
and art supply stores usually carry
shrink plastic or shrink film. Major brands include ShrinkyDinks,
Grafix, Digi-Shrink Plastic and Poly-Shrink.
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
let it dry for an hour and add second coat. Our favorite metallic
for this are Permapaque
by Sakura Color
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.
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%
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!
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.
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!