I stumbled across this gem of a craft project while looking for examples of new things to try with shrink plastic. For the uninitiated, many consumer plastics are shrink plastics. This means they shrink and become malleable when heat is applied. What is SUPER cool is the fact that number 6 plastic (the type most deli containers are made of) is the same type of plastic used for Shrinky Dinks. I’ve been harvesting the flat pieces of these containers from empties found in the staff lounge at the library for years. We’ve done shrink plastic crafts at a couple of programs and it is crazy fun. I definitely suggest you give it a try . . . and it is certainly a better fate for something that would end up in the recycling bin, at best.
So, I was looking for shrink plastic ideas that were a bit out of the ordinary . . . making rings or manipulating the plastic into different things. This is when I found the Rainbow Suncatcher that was posted by Life in the Nuthouse a couple years ago. Let me tell you, if thereis one craft I’ve been wanting to make all summer it is this one. And I promise you I will be making it after the summer reading program ends with our Finale Party this Saturday. I usually don’t post crafts I haven’t tried myself, but with my past experiments with shrink plastic, I can promise that it is super easy. Given all the cookouts and parties most of us will be going to throughout the summer, the cups should be easily acquired items . . . so summer is a great time to tackle this craft. Nuthouse suggests using unused cups, but a bit of soap and water should clean used ones enough to be usable. Just make sure they are number 6 cups, check the reference photo above for an example of the #6 identifier.
So, what you’ll need:
- Transparent colorful #6 plastic cups . . . a bunch of these would be best
- Some yarn
- Something to string the melted/shrunk cups from (embroidery hoops, sturdy plastic plate rim, almost anything)
- Parchment or Waxed Paper
- Baking Sheet
- Hole Puncher (not necessary, but makes life easier)
All you need to do is punch holes in your cups, arrange them on some parchment paper on top of a baking sheet, stick them in a 250 degree oven for a couple minutes, let them cool, string them up on the yarn, and attach the stings to your embroidery hoop/box sides/plastic plate rim/etc. That’s it, you’re done! Then you just stick it in the window where it will get some sun or hang it from or near a light fixture and enjoy the beautiful play of colors. Nuthouse did a great write -up with some fantastically helpful pictures to get you through each step. Check it out and you will want to do this craft just as much as I do.
The great thing about this craft, and shrink plastic in general, is the sheer unlimited ways in which you could modify the craft or do something completely different. Your only real limitation is your own creativity . . . and how much plastic you have. ;) I plan to grab one or two led lights with a motions sensor (you can get these from the lawn and garden sections at almost any department store) and trim it down to suspend within and embroidery hoop, then hang the rainbow strands in a dense forest of colorful melted plastic goodness to create a kind of solar powered chandelier. I’ll post pics as soon as I’m finished.
I hope this inspires you to play around with shrink plastic and maybe even do this craft yourself! Post pics if you do!