shrink plastic

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Our church received a request over the weekend for Christmas help for a family with young children. Several of us coordinated getting various things to “make Christmas”. I went looking for stockings and was appalled at the selection available in the big box store. Most of the stockings available were cheaply made of such grotesque fabric that I was depressed that anyone would use those as part of their family traditions. So despite the deadline projects hanging over my head I went home and started pulling out the ingredients to make some personalized stockings.

handmade Christmas stockings

I cut the main body of all three stockings out of a thick red textured fleece and then pulled together a few wintry prints to make the contrasting heels, toes and cuffs. The boy helped me with the sewing. I was planning on using a white dimensional paint to write the names on the stockings but I did not read the directions until about 10pm. Since I didn’t have 24 hours for the paint to dry flat I had to come up with another plan! After fooling around a bit I pulled out the last piece of matte shrink plastic and the permanent markers. I picked out some (hopefully) appropriate typefaces to set their names in on the computer and then printed out a template to trace. A few seconds in the oven and a quick rubdown with the sandpaper, and I had some nice thick white ovals that I stitched onto the stocking cuffs with black upholstery thread. Although putting the names on shrink plastic tags was a last ditch idea, I like how well it turned out so I will probably find some way to use it again.

Christmas stocking with shrink plastic name tag

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There are a number of traditional signs of spring – crocuses, robins, etc. Since we’ve lived in Maine, one of my personal signs of spring is the appearance of fiddleheads. These are the tightly coiled baby ferns coming up through last year’s blanket of left over leaves. In our old house we had lots of woods surrounding the house and most years we had lovely swathes of ferns spring up in the dappled sun under the barely budding trees.

fiddleheads just coming up

Now that we’ve moved to a house in town I thought we’d left behind this fascinating miracle of spring. I was so excited to discover these tiny fiddleheads just barely peeking out of the dirt at the edge of the trees. Those tall green leaves are some sort of bulb, maybe daffodils?? Usually the fiddleheads are green but I’ve seen them in a coppery color occasionally too. In the above picture you can see the combination of light green stem and light brown tiny feathery parts that will open up into green fronds.

I chose to incorporate a background of a fully opened fern frond which I made by drawing with colored pencils on shrink plastic. I then formed the copper wire into various sizes of fiddlehead shapes and glued them to the baked shrink plastic rectangle, finishing with a small loop of leather for a bail. I like the combination of copper and green with the dark background. I wish I could have taken a clear picture with the sun shining through the pendant to show the full effect but my photography skills were not up to the task. So I’ve photographed it on an envelope for scale.

fiddlehead pendant made of copper wire and shrink plastic

edited: I did it. Here it is in the sunny window!

fiddlehead fern copper wire and shrink plastic pendant

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shrink plastic heart charms

While the boy was gone to school, the girl and I worked on shrinking some pink. I drew and cut out the shapes for her and she colored them. The toaster oven works well for any pieces of shrink plastic up to half sheet. All I had was an unknown brand of matte white but this also comes in clear and black and some can even go in your inkjet printer! This is great for making coloring sheets for little ones. We made these rings and heart charms from the remnants of the planets. I won’t include a tutorial here as there are lots of good ones already available.

shrink plastic rings

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baking shrink plastic in oven

baking shrink plastic in oven

the shrink plastic solar system

the shrink plastic solar system

Monday the boy and I made the solar system. That’ll tire you out! I happened to find the shrink plastic and the boy has been interested in outer space lately so I suggested making the planets. He got out his Wall-E Leapster game which has a game that shows the order of the planets, smart thinking! I got on the internet to find out what colors we should do each planet, which we sort of followed. It took us two sessions of cutting, coloring and baking to finish all the planets. Most of them were done in the toaster oven (one of my favorite crafting tools), this picture shows the kids watching the baking of the sun in the regular oven because it was too big for the toaster oven. They loved watching the plastic curl and wiggle as it shrank down to a third of its original size. After all the planets were finished, the boy decided that we should tape them to the window, and he advised me on the correct order.

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