About 6 months ago, I played with “shrink plastic” for the first time in my life. I was awed, amazed – totally fell in love with the stuff. I’ve since tried several brands, and have played around with different mediums on them. But I am COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY by this one…I think you will be too! Darcie’s Ink Jet Printable Shrink Plastic Project CD (yes, that’s a mouthful) is a package that comes with a CD filled with over 150 clip art images, 7 pages of instructions, 2 pages showing project ideas, and 4 pages of shrink plastic. The CD I received is called “Nifty Gifty,” but she has other CD’s as well. The Nifty Gifty CD’s images are focused around holidays and are super cute! Wait ’til you see what you can do with this!
To start out, let me tell you more about the materials. The CD can be used in PC’s (Windows XP or later) or Mac’s (OS X 10.3 or later). It requires Adobe Reader (free download) to use. If you want to use individual clip art pieces, you need to also have some sort of graphic editing or layout program (to just print, even Microsoft Word will work; to manipulate in more advanced ways, you need something more sophisticated, such as Adobe Photoshop).
When you put the CD in your computer and open the contents, there are two folders – a “clip art” folder and a “ready to print” folder. The “ready to print” folder contains 36 PDF pages containing already laid-out project pieces and/or backgrounds which are, well…ready to print. A screen shot of the ready to print pages:
Here’s an example, on the screen, of a “ready to print” page:
For each project, there is a corresponding folder in the clip-art folder, with each of the items available individually. Here is a screen-shot of the “Cardinal Ornament” in the clip-art section:
As for the actual shrink plastic sheets, they are super easy to use – they are coated on both sides, so you don’t have to worry about printing on the “right” side. And there is no “prep” work like you usually have to do before coloring other shrink plastic – no sanding, etc. You simply put it in your printer and print!
I first printed one of the “ready to print” pages. When it prints out, you’ll notice that the colors are rather light. This is intentional – because when the pieces shrink, the color intensifies. Darcie notes this in the instructions, which I found to be very thorough and helpful.
If you’ve never worked with shrink plastic before, I’ll give you the quick run down on how you use it. First, you cut out the item.
Then use a heat gun or place item in a pre-heated oven/toaster oven (320 degrees F) to shrink the item. Having a heat-resistant tool (such as these tweezers from the Hot Glue Gun Helpers) to assist with manipulating the item is helpful. Be sure to heat it on a heat-resistant surface, such as a Craft Sheet.
Once the item is done shrinking (it will curl and look strange while shrinking, but will mostly work itself back out when done), use an acrylic block to place on top of it to completely flatten it while it cools.
That’s how easy it is! Now, you could also add a hole before shrinking, to make this into a charm. Here’s a photo showing how to do that, and you can also see a before/after size comparison, as well as see the difference in color before and after shrinking.
Next, I wanted to put my Cardinal Ornament together. I started by cutting out all of the pieces and shrinking them down. I was sure to punch a hole in the top of the frame before shrinking it. After everything was shrunken down, I decided to add some dimension by applying a clear gloss to the frame, and some Distress Stickles to the poinsettias and tree branches.
I let them dry overnight, and then put them all together. The instructions suggest using “The Ultimate Glue” by Crafter’s Pick, which I don’t have. I ended up using foam squares by 3L Adhesives, and they worked great.
I thought the little cardinal was so cute, and I have this great stamp I recently bought…an idea was forming in my mind.
The only problem was that the cardinal on the CD was facing the wrong direction. Fortunately, I had a couple of options. I could either use the “mirror image” option on my printer, or I could flip the image horizontally using Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 2, which I have on my computer. I don’t trust my printer, so I chose the latter option, and then printed the little birdie out. I used watercolors to color the image, added it to an embossed card, and popped the adorable cardinal on – with a tiny dot from a Pearl Pen to give dimension to his eye – and this card has just the right amount of pop!
Finally, I wanted to try one last thing. All of the images on the CD are super cute – but what if you don’t want to use those images? That might just be the best part. Darcie’s instructions explain exactly how to alter regular clip art images so that you can use them with her printable shrink plastic sheets! (You need to lighten the colors.) I had recently purchased a set of Echo Park alphas/numbers, and I was thinking how cute they would be as dimensional embellishments. So I followed the instructions, taking numbers 0-9 into a Photoshop document, lightened them by +28, (I also made them a bit larger so they wouldn’t be too super small when shrunk), and printed them.
Here’s what I ended up with…
My 6-year old son said they looked and felt like board-game pieces…and that’s exactly what they feel like! They are hard little tokens and I love them! I can’t wait to play around more with the clip art on my computer – and can’t wait to use these on a project! They are too cute!
All in all, I am in love with this product. Seriously. It retails for only $18.95, and for all the images you receive, in addition to the great instructions and the shrink plastic, I don’t feel that’s unreasonable at all. And the only drawback I can possibly find is that there aren’t more sheets of the plastic in the pack! Because 4 sheets isn’t going to last me very long…I’ve already used up 2 of them! Give these a try – I promise you won’t regret it!
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