Stamping Shrink Plastic

It is Thursday (or will be in the morning) and time for another technique.

This week, we are returning to shrink plastic to learn a few additional ways to decorate it — namely with rubber stamps and Copic Sketch markers. (If you would like to learn how shrink plastic works, click here to read the last Technique Thursday post.)

Many recommend lightly sanding the plastic so it accepts ink. Personally, I never have good luck with this method. I’m not sure if I sand too much or not enough, but I always end up with scratches on my plastic that are visible after shrinking and through my ink.

Instead, I like to work with products that easily adhere to the plastic. StazOn is perfect for these techniques, but Ranger Archival Ink in black will also work if it is heat set. The trick is to heat the ink enough to make it permanent, but not enough to shrink the plastic. Usually, if you hold the heat gun farther from the plastic, you can accomplish this. Of course, if you don’t plan to color the image, you can set it and shrink it at the same time!

The ability to use rubber stamps on shrink plastic opens up a whole new world of options to add to your cards, scrapbook pages and jewelry. You may wish to practice stamping on a piece of packaging plastic or similar smooth surface before stamping on shrink plastic. The surface is slippery and your stamp will want to dance along the plastic, which will create a blurry image. So, I brace my elbows on the table and very carefully place the stamp on the plastic and then just as carefully lift it back off without allowing it to move sideways. You do not have to push on the stamp the way you do when stamping on paper.

For this card, I used a background stamp by Wendy Vecchi of Studio 490 to decorate the tag I cut out of shrink plastic with a Tim Holtz/Sizzix die. The image remains clear while shrinking and can add the perfect embellishment to a card. Here’s a closer look at the tag:

I used a similar technique here, using a butterfly die cut from Sizzix and a background stamp from Studio 490. I love how tiny the pattern gets when it shrinks.

You can also stamp an image and then color it with Copic Sketch markers, although there are a few “rules” to keep in mind for this technique. First, the plastic will not allow you to blend your colors like you can on paper. Simply choose a color and use long strokes, preferably from one side of the image to the other without stopping. If you want more color, let it dry for a few minutes and then go over it again. Otherwise, you will continually smear, puddle and remove your ink.

Second, keep in mind that StazOn and Copic inks do not like each other and using them together could ruin your Copic markers. However, if you use clear shrink plastic, you can stamp on one side and color on the other. That way, your inks never touch, but you get beautiful charms like this:

This is an image from Flower Soft. If you click on the image so you can see it larger, you will see some streaks in color. That happens and you just have to accept it as part of the charm of this technique.

Here’s another I did using a Riley stamp. With the addition of a swivel clasp by Tim Holtz, this will make an adorable zipper pull for my nephew.

But, there is more than one way to color with Copics. One of my favorite techniques is to use the Copic Airbrush System to spray on the color.

On this card, I used Tim Holtz/Sizzix dies to cut out the images, airbrushed them and then shrank them. But, since Copic inks are transparent, you could also stamp an image in black and it will be visible after airbrushing it.

Then, I got a bit carried away and came up with this …

Since I wanted a varied color, I sprayed the plastic with three different yellow/orange hues. Then, I used a template by The Crafters Workshop to airbrush the leaves and bugs in place. I didn’t do anything fancy — just held the template where I wanted it and sprayed it in green. I wasn’t worried if I had any overspray — I figured it would add to the organic nature. Then, I shrunk the plastic and added a strip of cardstock to make a mini book.

I did have a bit of an issue … when I put an acrylic block on top of the heated image to flatten it, some of the ink stuck to the block. When I did the back piece, I tried it upside down. I didn’t get any ink on my block, but I did get some on my nonstick craft sheet. You can see the little speckles where the ink was removed in the photo above, but I think it adds to the earthiness of the piece, don’t you?

Now, it is time for you to try these techniques for yourself. I will be at Capture A Memory in Flint Township from 2-6 p.m. Thursday so you can try rubber stamping, coloring or air brushing on shrink plastic for yourself. I’ll also have all of these samples, and a few more, with me, so you can get a closer look and ask any questions you may have. Hope to see you there!

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