Downsizing is not happening in the usual sense, though the sewing room benefits from a purge every now and again. This downsizing happens to be shrink plastic! While you may think "Shrinky Dinks" brand when you hear shrink plastic, there are actually other brands available- like Grafix and Shrinkets from Julie Haymaker. I know this important information because I recently presented a workshop for our Fiber Art Bee on using shrink plastic in fun and creative ways. I'll share some of the basics here, in case you're interested in trying it. Shrink plastic is a crafting medium made by stretching plastic into thin sheets that will shrink down by 60% or more when heated in a toaster oven, regular oven, or with a heat gun. It happens so fast, you'll need to be watching! You can buy shrink plastic in assorted styles (clear, opaque), colors (black, gold, white, pastels), and finishes (clear, sanded). And you can buy sheets of ink-jet printable shrink plastic to run through your printer for custom images. Use ONLY an ink-jet printer though- laser printers use heat that can melt the plastic inside the printer. Nobody wants that! The flowers above are doodle images copied onto various types of shrink plastic. All but the pink one were colored with markers prior to cutting them out and baking (on a parchment paper or silicon lined baking tray at about 325 degrees for less than a minute). The pink flower was colored with Prisma colored pencils (suggested because they are softer). I'll explain about the murky look of the orange flower in a bit.
I may have become a bit caught up in (translation-obsessed with) the images of The Ghastlies found on some Alexander Henry fabric prints in my collection. I scanned and printed some of them on the shrink plastic, colored them, and shrunk them down to charm size. As you can see, this is a craft that can have varying results for many reasons. One variable is how much darkness is in the original image. Because colors intensify as they shrink, very dark colors can dominate the design. So use a light hand when adding color. Also, I was interested in finding a finish that would be clear and glossy to apply to the completed charm. I'm still on that quest. I've used Diamond Glaze and Glossy Accents with some success, along with clear nail polish. Some of the finishes can cause the colors to run or become cloudy, and that's what happened to the orange flower above. If you want to use the shrunken image as a charm, punch a hole in it with a 1/4" hole punch prior to baking. Or you can glue a bail on it once it's done to avoid the hole in the image. You may want to round the corners on shapes like these to avoid sharp edges and to help with some of the slight distortion of shapes that happens.
I'm not sure how it happened, but apparently I (and my now-grown children, too) missed the whole Shrinky Dink craft trend of the 1970s. But I'm certainly making up for lost time now! The button, mandalas, and sugar skull shown here were all printed on ink-jet shrink plastic, colored with pencils or markers, and baked. Coating the back with acrylic paint or permanent marker helps to make the color stand out a bit. I used white paint, though other colors will work, too. Copy-right free coloring images are good sources, or draw images yourself. The yellow flower was traced with a fine-tip black Sharpie, colored with colored pencils, cut out, and baked. One tip for this- draw the image on the smooth side of the plastic (easier on the pen nib) and color on the sanded side (it takes the color better and adds an illusion of depth). If the plastic is smooth on both sides, sand one side lightly with fine grit sandpaper. And again, you'll notice that most of these are simple shapes which helps to avoid sharp edges in the shrunken piece. The turquoise mandala is about as pointy as I'd go. Some crafters say that you can use recycled clear plastic that is marked with a number 6 as your shrink plastic. I did not have good results when I tried it though.
You can see some earlier Ghastlie girls I used in this charm necklace.
And some hand-drawn mandalas added to this one. Just a tip for heating the shrink plastic with a heat gun- hold the cut out image in place on a silicon mat with a craft stick because the forced air can blow the lightweight plastic off the work surface. And while it heats, each shrink plastic item will fold and curl in on itself in a way that makes you think it's not going to work. Be patient- it eventually flattens out when it's close to done. I used a pancake turner to remove each item from the lined baking tray, placed it on another parchment paper on the counter, and pressed down on it with a tile coaster for a few seconds just to flatten it fully. By the way, the utensils used are ones I keep for crafting use- not used for food. There you have it- more than you may ever have wanted to know about shrink plastic!