“Say you saw it in Steuben Real Estate Guide” • October 2011 • Page 3
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The basic idea behind Shrinky Dinkshasn’t really changed in the 38 yearsthey’ve been around: The flexible sheetsof shrinkable plastic can still be cut,colored and popped into an oven toshrink one-third in size, becoming hardand unbendable.But what was designed as a toy forkids has grown into a creative mediumembraced by adult crafters, artists, evenscientists.The Shrinky Dinks line has grownfrom the original frosted sheets to includewhite, clear and — the newest addition— plastic sheets for ink-jet printers. Thatmeans photographic images now can bemade into Shrinky Dinks.The sheets are sold 10 to a packageand also come in preprinted kits:monsters, pirates and sports motifs, toname a few.A similar shrink-plasticproduct, PolyShrink, is sold by thecompany Lucky Squirrel.Some Shrinky Dinks get turned intothe usual kid-friendly magnets, photoframes, ornaments and dog tags. Othersare being fashioned into stylish jewelry.“It’s certainly a material people whogrew up in the ’70s and ’80s rememberwith nostalgia, but always with thatkitschy association,” says Kathy Sheldon,a crafts book author. “These new jewelersare using shrink plastic to make fresh,attractive jewelry you want to wear.”Sheldon wrote the upcoming“SHRINK Shrank shrunk!” (Lark Crafts,2012), which features 16 jewelrydesigners, including Jessica Poundstoneof Portland, Ore., who works exclusivelyin Shrinky Dinks material. She likes thefreedom of creating her own designs andhaving control over the quality of hermaterial.“I don’t have to go out and depend onwholesalers for components,” she says. “Ican just make it myself.”Other crafters stretching this plasticmedium beyond its original, youthful useinclude June Gilbank of Cape Town,SouthAfrica.A crochet pattern designerwho has dabbled in shrink plastic, shefound success with a simple ring. Her“shrink plastic ring tutorial” is posted ather blog, Planet June.Anna Boksenbaum, a public defenderin Brooklyn, N.Y., incorporatesmonograms, text and vintage images intohomemade shrink-plastic jewelry that shesells from her Etsy shop, Brass Isaac.And Giuseppina “Josie” Cirincione of Phoenix has gotten so successful making jewelry out of shrink plastic that sheteaches “Shrinky Dinks” classes at an artcenter, and says professional photogra-phers often show up as students.“For them it’s another way forshowing their work,” says Cirincione.“It’s another medium.”Artists who dabble in Shrinky Dinksinclude James Jaxxa of NewYork City,who created “Hopeful Tree” for aShrinky Dinks show in 2007 at Seattle’sZeitgeist Coffee. He likes the slightlyunpredictable quality of the material:“With Shrinky Dinks, you’re really out of control,” says Jaxxa. “You can put it inthe oven . and it might twist in some waythat you didn’t know would happen. Thematerial itself almost forces another levelof creativity that other materials don’t.”Zeitgeist owner BryanYeck holds theexhibit every couple of years; last year’sSeventh Annual Shrinky Dinks NationalExhibition &Auction included works by90 artists from around the world.As for the sciences, shrink plastics areused by the dental industry to embedidentification numbers in dentures.And they have inspired innovation inthe field of biomedical engineering.Michelle Khine turned to her childhoodcraft when she didn’t have the lab toolsshe needed in her research job at theUniversity of California at Merced.Playing around with Shrinky Dinks in herkitchen, Khine created a low-cost alterna-tive to silicon molds for microfabricatedchips that had required sensitive, million-dollar equipment.Now an assistant professor at theUniversity of California at Irvine, Khinehas created other lab tools — includingcell culture platforms for stem cells —with Shrinky Dinks plastics, and haslaunched a company, Shrink Nanotech-nologies Inc.The mother of Shrinky Dinks is BettyMorris, who came up with the idea as aCub Scout leader in Brookfield, Wis. Sheand co-leader Katie Bloomberg read in amagazine that a plastic lid could bewritten on with permanent marker andshrunk in the oven. Later, when the boyswere fighting over scraps of plastic,Morris and Bloomberg knew they’d hitupon a novel idea.Morris persuaded her skepticalhusband, Chuck, to float her $600 for thefirst 1,000 pounds of plastic to launch thecompany.“I would never ever have imaginedthat Shrinky Dinks would still be on themarket after all these years,” says Morris.“I was just excited we were doing it fortwo weeks.”Bloomberg later dropped out of thebusiness for other work — she wasmayor of Brookfield for 16 years — andMorris continued to run the companyalone. Popular in the 1970s and ’80s,Shrinky Dinks fell out of favor in the1990s — until artists and crafters devisednew uses for them. The ink-jet printerplastic, created in 2004, opened thecrafting medium even wider.“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs,”says Morris. “But it’s always been on themarket.”Today, there are 300 Shrinky Dinkskits sold in 42 countries, says Morris, anda children’s Shrinky Dinks oven, madeby Big Time Toys of Nashville, Tenn., isplanned.
Creative uses for ShrinkyDinks keep growing
I would never ever have imagined thatShrinky Dinks would still be on themarket after all these years.
The mother of Shrinky Dinks