Anyone who’s been to summer camp knows that Shrinky Dinks are a fun and creative way to keep children quiet during arts & crafts time. But did you know that you can use the same stuff that Shrinky Dinks are made of to create beautiful, (somewhat) grown-up jewelry? BUT HOWWWW? OMG relax, this is a DIY, I’m about to show you!

We’ll start with this nameplate necklace; once you’ve gotten the hang of working with shrink film (the industrial term for the paper they stuff into Shrinky Dinks kits) you’ll be dreaming up all sorts of projects of your own.

What you’ll need:


• Matte shrink film—I used Grafix Shrink Film.
• A permanent marker in the color of your choice.
• A pair of scissors.
• A hole puncher.
• Tape.
• A necklace chain.
• Clasps for that chain. (You could also remove the chain and clasp from an old necklace).
• A pair of needlenose pliers. (If you don’t have these, old tweezers can work in a pinch.)
• A computer equipped with Microsoft Word and a printer.
• A conventional or toaster oven.

Making the template:

1. Open a new document in Microsoft Word. Go to Format → Document and then Layout → Orientation → Page Setup to make your page horizontal. Adjust the font size to 200 (or slightly smaller if you have a long name) and make the margins as small as possible. Pick a font that you like (I used Cooper Black) and type out your name (or whatever word you want!). It should look kinda like this:


2. Now for the exciting-trick-that-will change-your-life part! Highlight your name and go to Format → Font. Choose the Advanced tab. Next to the spacing option, select Condensed and raise by about 22 points. You may have to raise the points more or less, depending on the font you use.


Now the letters are touching and you’ve got the template for necklace! Am I the only one who finds this totally life-changing?


Making the nameplate:

1. Print out your name and place the shrink film on a flat surface. Place a sheet of the film atop the sheet of paper and tape it down.


2. Outline the letters in permanent markers, then neatly fill them in, being sure to leave no space uncolored.


(After this point I followed the steps below, but it turns out the lovely mint green that you see above totally changed in the oven and didn’t look pretty at all! So I recommended that you test a tiny piece of shrink film first, to make sure you like how the color turns out before devoting a huge chunk to it. I started over using trusty black permanent marker.)


3. Make two holes in the top of your name using a hole puncher.

4. Carefully cut out your name (you may need to use an X-ACTO knife for tinier areas).

5. Preheat a conventional oven or toaster oven to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (this temperature worked for me, but be sure to check the package instructions of your shrink film). Cover a baking sheet with foil and place your cutout on top. Pop it into the oven and keep your eye on it while it bakes (a toaster oven with glass front is ideal for this). The cutout will start to curl in on itself and look totally messed up at first, but don’t panic! This is the most thrilling thing about shrink film. After about 1½ minutes of baking, the cutout should be about one-third of its original size and completely flat. Carefully pull the baking sheet out of the oven using an oven mitt and let the cutout cool.


Assembling the necklace:

1. Cut two pieces of chain. Mine were each about seven inches long.

2. Using your pliers, place a link of each piece of chain to the corresponding holes in your nameplate. Secure with the pliers and use them to attach the clasp to the top links.

That’s it! You’ve got an attractive way to accessorize, while declaring and commemorating your very existence (or your politics or your love of pizza or your dog or whatever you like!). ♦