Colorful “Stained Glass” Shrinky Earrings Tutorial

by Rena Klingenberg.

"stained glass" shrinky earrings tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Colorful “stained glass” shrinky earrings tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

You can easily make “stained glass” earrings by decorating clear shrink plastic with permanent markers.

This is a wonderful project if you love to play with color!

"stained glass" shrink plastic earrings

After you bake the shrink plastic, your colorful shapes will be small and sturdy, and they make lovely and very light-weight jewelry components.

It’s also a great project for teens and kids to make for themselves or to give as gifts (however, be sure to provide adult supervision when using the oven to shrink the plastic pieces).

In fact, this could be a fun jewelry birthday party make-and take!

designing "stained glass" shrink plastic earrings

Supplies:

clear shrink plastic

This is the clear shrink plastic I used.

  • About 1/4 of a sheet of clear (NOT white or opaque) shrink plastic. Clear plastic is the only one that will give you the luminous stained-glass look.
  • One sheet of paper for sketching your design (scratch paper is fine).
  • Pencil for drawing your design.
  • 1 clean Pringles potato chip can lid (or other item you can draw around to make a circle that’s about 3″ [7.62 cm] in diameter).
  • Ruler for drawing your straight lines.
  • Masking tape for holding your shrink plastic in place over your paper drawing.
  • Permanent markers in a variety of colors, plus black (I used Sharpies and Bic markers – below, you can see the pens I used). Your colors will be much darker after your shrink plastic bakes – so I found that light colors and bright colors give the best stained glass effect.

    Permanent markers for shrink plastic earrings

  • Scissors for cutting out your shrinky shapes.
  • A standard one-hole paper punch for making the hole at the top of your shrink plastic creations.
  • A piece of aluminum foil, about 7″ x 11″ (17.78 cm x 27.94 cm) for baking your shrink plastic in the oven.
  • A regular household oven or toaster oven for shrinking your plastic.
  • A plastic pancake spatula that you won’t be using for food preparation (for picking up hot shrink plastic, and flattening the plastic pieces while they’re still hot and pliable).
  • 4 jump rings.
  • 2 ear wires.
  • 2 pair of pliers – chain nose or flat nose (for opening and closing jump rings and earwires).
  • Optional: Clear acrylic spray to protect colors from scratching off (I don’t bother with this step).

Shrink plastic "stained glass" earrings by Rena Klingenberg

Colorful “Stained Glass”
Shrinky Earrings Tutorial:

I intentionally made my 2 colorful earring components similar but not identical.

In these instructions I’m assuming you’re doing the same! :)

Important: Test Your Shrink Plastic First

Before you begin, I highly recommend that you make and bake a test piece of your shrink plastic according to the package instructions, so you’ll know the tricks of making your final pieces turn out perfectly.

You’ll want to find out:

  • how much your particular plastic shrinks
  • how much your marker colors darken during shrinking
  • how close to the edge of your plastic you want to punch the hole
  • whether you get better results by baking a little longer or at a slightly higher temperature than your shrink plastic instructions recommend.

After making and baking your test piece of shrinky plastic, here’s how to make the actual earring components:

Place your Pringles lid near a corner of your sheet of paper, and draw around it with a pencil to create a circle:

drawing around a Pringle's lid

Draw a second circle the same way, near the first one:

circles for shrink plastic earring designs

Use a ruler as a straight edge to draw 5 random lines across each circle:

draw straight lines for the "leading" in your stained glass designs

Your two circles should now look something like this:

making stained glass earrings

Place a blank sheet of clear shrink plastic on top of your paper. Line up the plastic so that your circles are near the edge, so you’ll have a bigger piece of leftover plastic for other projects.

Use a few pieces of masking tape to attach your shrink plastic to the paper, so you can easily keep your coloring in alignment with your pencil sketches:

stained glass sketches ready to trace on shrink plastic

Use your markers to color in the sections of your circles on your shrink plastic.

Don’t worry about being too perfect with your coloring – minor mistakes don’t show on the shrunken plastic:

colored stained glass sections

Place your Pringles lid over your colored plastic circles one at a time, and use your black marker to trace around the lid.

You’re creating a nice frame for your stained glass designs:

Draw around your Pringle's lid

Use your ruler as a straight edge to trace the 5 straight lines you drew on your pencil sketches.

Now you have nice dividers between the colored sections of your designs, similar to the leading between real stained glass panes:

Trace your "leading" lines with a black marker

Use scissors to cut out your two colorful shrink plastic circles.

Use a standard one-hole paper punch to punch a hole in the top of each circle:

Punch a hole in your shrink plastic

Your cut and punched plastic circles should look something like this:

Cut out and punched earring components

Now you’re ready to bake and shrink your artistry!

Read your shrink plastic package’s instructions and follow them carefully. Decide on any adjustments based on what you learned during your test make-and-bake.

Make a little recyclable pan for baking your shrink plastic pieces, by tearing off a piece of aluminum foil about 7″ x 11″ (17.78 cm x 27.94 cm) and folding up the edges to make a little rim:

Make an aluminum foil pan with edges

Place one of your colorful shrink plastic circles in the center of your little foil pan, put the pan in your oven, and bake to shrink your earring component.

When you remove it from the oven after shrinking, quickly use your pancake spatula to flatten the shrunken plastic while it’s still hot and pliable:

Flatten your shrink plastic shapes with the spatula

Below, you can see the difference in size and color between an unbaked shrinky on the left, and a baked one on the right.

Notice how much the colors darken during baking:

Stained glass shrink plastic, before and after baking

Optional: Protect Your Designs with Clear Acrylic Spray

(I don’t do this step, but you may want to.)

Over time your colorful marker designs might scratch off, especially if they brush up against other pieces of jewelry in a jewelry box.

If you decide to spray clear acrylic on the colored side of your shrink plastic designs to preserve them, now is the time.

When your plastic pieces have cooled completely, take them outdoors and gently spray a very light coating of clear acrylic spray on the surface you colored with markers.

Don’t hold the spray can too close to your shrinkies, and be careful not to spray a heavy or wet layer of acrylic, or your colorful ink is likely to liquify and run.

After letting the first coating of acrylic spray dry, gently spray a second light coating of it.

Make sure the shrinkies are thoroughly dry before going on to the next step.

Once your stained glass masterpieces are cool and dry, they’re ready to turn into earrings!

Put a jump ring through the hole you punched in the top of each piece:

Add a jump ring to each earring component

Then attach a second jump ring to the first one, and attach an earwire to the second jump ring:

Add a second jump ring and an earwire

Enjoy your colorful, light weight “stained glass” earrings!

Stained glass shrink plastic earrings tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Shrink plastic "stained glass" earrings by Rena Klingenberg

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Comments

  1. OMG. I am SOOO doing this. I used to LOVE shrinky dinking when I was a kid! I still have some of that stuff too so it lasts for ages. OK wait…..I’m not “ages” old…but you know what I mean. :)

    My daughters would flip over jewelry they could make themselves with Shrinky Dink.

    I like being surprised by your posts just live everybody else. LOL

    Alicia
    JMJ Content Specialist

  2. Thanks, Alicia! I’m a life-long shrinky-dinker too. For me the attraction is equal parts playing with colors, the fun of drawing – and watching them shrink and turn out small! :)

  3. I love this, Rena! I never did shrinky-dinks, but I spent half my childhood colouring. I can see neat possibilities for embellishing the earrings when they are done, too!

  4. Cute! I can’t believe that they’re made with shrinky dinks! I’ll have to try this with my girls. Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. What a great idea! I have not heard of shrink plastic before, but it definitely looks like something worth looking up. Your earrings look lovely and I can think of so many other possible uses that my kids will love!

  6. I didnt know they still made this stuff! How fun, and so many possibilities! Thanks for the post!

  7. Thanks for sharing this. I didn’t know you could just buy plain sheet of shrinking plastic. We got a kit for the kids that allowed then to make keyrings from this stuff but I had no idea you could buy plain sheets. I am off shopping online for this…..

  8. Such a great idea! I know that our readers will love it, too. If you get a chance we would love for you add your craft to our weekly Bowdabra Showcase.

  9. WOW!! What a great idea!! My oldest daughter loves making jewelry! I am definitely Pinning this so I can show it to her!
    THANKS!!! :)

  10. So cool, Rena! Your tutorials are always so clear and engaging. This one includes so much detail that everyone could be successful with this project. And yes, it would be a great party idea.

  11. These look great. Love the colors.

  12. I love these earrings! So colorful,,I can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks so much for the detailed instructions.

  13. This is awesome! I can’t wait to try this with our homeschool co-op! One question… What temperature do you put the oven on?

  14. Thanks so much to all for your lovely comments on this fun project!

    Lisa, regarding oven temperature: I would follow the instructions on your shrink-plastic package. Different brands vary widely in their temperature recommendations and bake times for their particular product.

  15. Rena, I love the colors!! I have shoes to match these perfectly!

  16. What a fun look-way to go!

  17. Beautiful and colorful earrings – and I love the colors

  18. I remember working those types of crafts when I was a kid!

    Popped in from Time Travel Thursday.

  19. These are fantastic… we will have to give this a try! I have heard that #6 plastic also works as shrink plastic, so we might see what we have around the house!

  20. This is such a great idea! I just picked up some shrinky plastic at a yard sale a few weeks ago. Now I know what to make. Thanks for sharing at Terrific Tuesdays.
    Rachel

  21. This are very cool- I am so pinning this for future projects!

  22. How wonderful! I was just telling my family that I wish I knew how to make jewelry but didn’t know where to start. I have 2 little girls that would have so much fun doing this! Thank you for posting.

  23. You learn something new everyday right–that is such a terrific project!!

  24. So unique, fun and STYLISH!!! Love them!

    Thanks for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality!

  25. Love this!!

  26. Such a fun project, thanks for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!

  27. Rena,
    Thank you for your wonderful tips. This one is for sharing with my loved ones. Fun, Fun, Crafty!!!

  28. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Diana M. Souza-Castro says:

    Rena! Love these! Have a book on Mandalas, and can only imagine what other designs would come in handy — could even cut into strips! Wow! Oh my word, my right-side of my brain is kicking in. Ha! Ha!

    Thanks for all of your sharing! Love Ya! Diana/Mermaid

  30. These are so cute. I have to try this. I have to find some shrinky first I guess.
    New Follower via FB.

  31. This is a great project! Pinning.

  32. Super creative with beautiful results!!
    These earrings are gorgeous

  33. I loved shrinky dinks when I was little and look forward to doing them with our little ones. I imagine elementary school age kids (teens or adults) could also make bracelets (or a pendant). I thought about that because if it were a children’s project, they might not have pierced ears. Your earrings came out great!

  34. Beautiful job! Thank you for sharing at my What Are You Doing? Wednesday Blog Hop again! Love what you do!

  35. These are so pretty! I would have never guessed what they are made from just by looking.

  36. I love, love, love these! I am pinning to make with my daughter this summer. Thanks so much for the inspiration!
    Blessings,
    Nici

  37. You always have the best tutorials. I love the idea of using shrink plastic. Thank you for sharing at Fluster’s Creative Muster.

    Robin

  38. great and fun idea! would love to give this a try! :-)

  39. I love working with Shrinky Dinks! I’ve never used the clear, though – I always use the white.

  40. This is such a creative awesome craft! Thanks for sharing it on Fidlin’ Fridays!

    -Susan Kay

  41. Great instructions for this fun craft! Thanks for sharing at TTF this week!

    Linda

  42. This shrinky stuff is definitely on my bucket list of things to try. I even received a Michael’s coupon today so maybe soon.

  43. Wow, this is really cool. I totally want to give this a try. I’m pinning this right now. :)

  44. These are so pretty! Thanks so much for sharing at Saturday Spotlight.

    April
    Angels Homestead

  45. My daughters will love this idea. I can’t wait to work on this with them. Thanks for sharing at Inspire Us Thursday at Organized 31.

  46. LOVE the look of these earrings!! So pretty.

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