Studio Saturday Shrink Plastic Jewelry for Grown-Ups

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Studio Saturday: Shrink Plastic Jewelry for Grown-Ups

I say shrink plastic, you saybeen there, done that? Ill bet you havent seen shrink plastic turned into this: fun, whimsical, and sophisticated beads that will completely change your mind about what shrink plastic can be. This isnt kid stuffits shrink plastic for grown-ups.

When I was at the Craft and Hobby Association trade show last January I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw Julie Haymaker Thompsons fantastic jewelry. I didnt even know it was shrink plastic until she told meand then I immediately asked her to write an article forCloth Paper Scissorsmagazine. I love when artists see something with a fresh eye and turn it on its head. But there was something else.

Julie created an ingenious tool called a Shrinkets bead mold that forms shrink plastic into shaped beads. Those can be combined with other beads to form focals, dangles, and more. I was sold.

Julies article, Shrink Plastic Whimsy, appears in theSeptember/October 2017 issue ofCloth Paper Scissors. You have to see the Wonderlands Garden necklace she createdits magnificent. Theres even adownloadable template for the flower and leaf beads available in our Online Extras. I thought Id finally give these beads a try, and I was not disappointed.

Using Julies templates I traced a few flower shapes onto shrink plastic, cut them out, and punched a center hole. Im guessing most of you have worked with shrink plasticwatching the sheets shrink up is half the fun.

The beads were colored with colored pencil on the sanded side of the shrink film, and Julie has a great tip for this: Run a black colored pencil around the edge of the shape. This helps give the bead definition, and makes groupings of beads more cohesive. I discovered that baby wipes remove colored pencil,  just in case your pencil goes awry.

Julie recommends using colored pencils for coloring the beads, but how to decorate them is completely up to you. Experiment, try different color combinationswhatever you like. I used Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, and discovered that dots and lines work well to create fun patterns. Remember that the color concentrates when the beads shrink, and anything super detailed probably wont show up.

To shrink a bead, slide it onto the glide pin in the Shrinkets mold. Place the doming pin right at the top of the glide pin in case the plastic piece gets loose while youre heating it.

With a heat tool, heat the shrink plastic. Youll likely recall that shrink plastic goes through a whole thing when its heated, flailing about as it shrinks, then mellowing out at the end. Its at that mellowing part, when it relaxes and is still warm, when you slide the doming pin onto the glide pin all the way down, forming the bead. If the bead is a little askew, you can re-heat the shrink plastic with the heat tool and re-form it.

The matte or the shiny side can face upI mixed mine for a variety of finishes and looks.

When you have the amount of shrink beads you need, begin to make your dangles. Feel free to go a little crazy, combining all sorts of beads, sequins, seed beads, bead caps, and whatever else you think will work, to make the lovely bead dangles. Simply slide the beads onto a head pin and create a wrapped loop at the top. Check the article for complete instructions on how to make the Wonderlands Garden necklace; I decided to create a pendant, attaching three bead dangles to a large decorative metal ring. I also created two smaller dangles made of just small beads, plus a leaf. Templates for leaves are included in the download.

I used jump rings to attach the dangles to the rings, and added a silk ribbon and a closure. Ive gotten so many compliments on this piece, and no one yet has guessed that the beads are made with shrink plastic.

Ive got ideas for tons of bead variations and uses for the dangles: monochromatic color schemes, bold patterns, using the dangles as page markers for handmade books. By changing the color palette of the Shrinkets beads and the components, youll completely change the look of your jewelry. Think black, white, and turquoise with bright silver, or cream and sepia with aged brass. Or, combine the Shrinkets beads with vintage findings and some beaded chain.

I hope you have a chance to discoveror rediscoverthis fun material, working with it in a completely new way. Im headed back to the studio to make more beads!

Do you know that every mixed-media technique can be incorporated into jewelry? Discover these fantastic books, videos, and more that will show you how to make unique jewelry youll be proud to wear.

The complete instructions to make Julie Haymaker Thompsons necklace are in theSeptember/October 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

Discover easy methods for etching metal, then turn it into stunning jewelry in the videoMixed-Media Etched Jewelrywith Ruth Rae.

InThe Mixed-Media Workshop Season 100: Best of Mixed-Media Jewelry, find out how to work with shrink plastic and paint pens and inks to make beautiful jewelry.

In the eBookTales of Adornmentby Kristen Robinson, learn techniques for creating romantic jewelry using resin.

BlogMixed-Media JewelryMixed-Media Techniques

Studio Saturday: Shrink Plastic Jewelry for Grown-Ups

This would be nice if the template mentioned is actually somewhere you could download it.

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