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Tips & Techniques 

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There are different types of shrink plastic are sold on this website.

Be sure to read the appropriate tips/instructions for each kind!

GRAFIX (NON-PRINTABLE) - GRAFIX (INKJET PRINTABLE) 

 

General Tips & Techniques
 
  • Sand with 320-400 grit sandpaper in a crosshatch pattern.
  • Apply design and background color.
  • Cut out your design with regular or decorative scissors. Punch holes with a paper punch. Holes shrink too!
  • Place on medium weight cardboard, or a Teflon sheet. Avoid baking on bare metal. Bake in a regular or toaster oven (see package for heat and bake times) or heat with an embossing heat tool.
  • After shrinking, most pigments become permanent. Your design will be about 45% its original size and about  1/16th inch thick.


Baking Tips

Expect the plastic to curl and move during baking. Occasionally a piece may stick to itself as it shrinks. To separate, allow the piece to cool and pull gently. You'll hear a tiny "snap" as the joint comes apart. You can now re-heat the piece and finish shrinking.
Baked plstic is very pliable while it is hot. It can be smoothed flat using cardboard or shaped over a variety of objects.

 

Art Supply Suggestions

 

Stamping Supplies

 Heat setting & Metallic Inks:

Crafter's, VersaCraft (Fabrico), Brilliance, Inkredible , MicaMagic, PearlEx, Opalites           

 Permanent (alcohol) Pigment Inks:

 Ranger 213 & Decorit

 

          
Other Inks & Paints:

 

  • Colored Pencils: Prismacolor, Derwent, Prang
  • Chalk Pastels (non-oil): Any brand of artist's pastels in soft, broad sticks
  • Highlighting Media (metallic rub-ons): Treasure Gold, Rub n' Buff, Craf-T Rub-ons, Pearl Ex, Perfect Pearls, Powdered Pearls
  • Sealers: Sprays such as Krylon Matte or Gloss, most craft sprays
  • Paint, Metallic & Permanent Markers: Marvy Uchida, Faber Castell, Pilot, Sharpie, Galaxy
  • Dr. Ph. Martin's- Iridescent Calligraphy Inks, Spectralite & Canvas Transparent Acrylics , Speedball Water Soluble Block Printing Ink, Silk Screen Inks

 

 
Tips for Stamping Inks
 

Heat setting Inks: (Crafter's, VersaCraft (Fabrico), Brilliance, Inkredible , MicaMagic, PearlEx, Opalites)

These colorful, high-resolution inks are great for stamping, and may also be applied directly off the pad or with texturing tools like sponges or stipple brushes.

These inks are completely set with heat, not by air drying. When using with shrink plastic, the ink is set during the shrinking process. There is no need for the ink to be dry before shrinking since the baking process will both dry and set the ink. To use heat setting inks to stamp images that you wish to color in detail, try these techniques:

Stamp Aligner Method

  • Using a stamp aligner, stamp your image on paper.
  • Position shrink plastic into the corner of the aligner, tape down & color.
  • Reposition the stamp aligner to the pre-colored shrink plastic & stamp.

Free Hand Method

  • Stamp your image on paper. Use a fairly simple, graphic design.
  • Center a pre-cut shrink plastic shape over the stamped image and use the image underneath as a rough guide for rubbing in chalk pastels.
  • Stamp onto the colored shrink plastic free hand.
  • Embellish the outer edge of the shrink plastic shape with ink by stippling or sponging, then add dots of metallic or paint marker.

"Bake First, Color Last" Method

  • Stamp your image onto sanded shrink plasti, carefully cut out & bake.
  • Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Color using watercolor, dye based or pigment markers and a small watercolor brush. Colors can be thinned with water on a scrap of shrink plastic before applying them to the baked piece.
  • The finished piece must be sealed.

 

Permanent Inks:(Ranger 213 & Decorit, PSX Home Decor )

These pigment rich inks are designed for rapid air drying and durability. They're available in a nice range of mixable colors, including metallics. They adhere well, even to unsanded shrink plastic. Try this classic technique:

Stamp on the Front, Color on the Back:

  • Stamp an open design image onto unsanded clear shrink plastic and allow to dry. Sand before stamping for a frosted look.
  • Turn the sheet over, sand the back, then color with colored pencils.
  • When baked, the color on the back seems to float behind the image.

 

Stamping On Shrink Plastic After Shrinking /
Sizing To Beads & Other Components

Shrinking before you stamp lets you use your stamps on shrink plastic without reducing the size of the stamped image. Imagine your images, at their full size, becoming a pair of earrings, a pin, or a decorative element for a card. Your image can also be stamped, and then embossed. You can also make beautiful shrink plastic backdrops to frame your favorite beads, charms, or any other design element that you want to include in your finished piece.

 

The Intaglio Technique

This technique involves super heating pre-shrunk shrink plastic, and then "molding" the softened plastic with a stamp or other object. No embossing powder is used. The word intaglio means, "a design produced in relief", and with a little practice, you can make beautiful elements for jewelry, card making, collage, and many other projects.

  • Size a piece of shrink plastic for your stamp, textured object, or jewelry element as described above.
  • The intaglio technique is done after the shrink plastic piece has been shrunk. You can shrink the piece, let cool and reheat it later or you can continue heating and complete the process. Getting the piece hot enough to impress is easiest using a heat gun, but it can be done using an oven. An unfinished block of hardwood provides an "easy release" surface for your intaglio piece. The pre-shrunk shrink plastic blank should be on the block of hardwood when impressing the design.
  • If you're using a heat tool, have your blank on the hardwood and begin/continue heating. When using the cooler models, you'll need to move in as close as an inch away to fully and evenly heat the piece.
  • If using an oven, use a slightly higher temperature than usual, 350 degrees to 375 degrees. To prepare the piece for impressing, heat the shrink plastic blank thoroughly on the hardwood block in the oven. Depending on the oven temperature, this can take up to 4 to 5 minutes or more.
 

 

Making the Impression:


When you think the plastic is hot enough, quickly make a trial pressing in the plastic by dimpling the surface of the plastic with a blunt object, like the corner of a stamp indexing block. As soon as you've made this small impression, return immediately with your heat gun and continue heating (or put the piece back in the oven). When the dimple disappears, the plastic should be hot enough to take a good impression.

Press the stamp or textured object firmly into the surface of the plastic. Continue to apply pressure for 10 to 15 seconds. If needed, the heating and impressing process may be repeated. After a brief cooling period, the shrink plastic will release from the wood block.

Your Intaglio design can be highlighted using a metallic rub-on finish, or heat setting ink. Heat lightly to set the ink.

Intaglio Variations:

By fine tuning your choice of art materials and application methods to the type of shrink plastic you're using, this one basic technique can expand into hundreds of wonderful possibilities.

  •  Use stamps inked or uninked when making the impression.
  • Transparent media (like chalk pastels) are subtle on Clear and Black, but very vibrant on Translucent & Canvas White.
  • Background colors will look very different, depending on how they're applied. Try stamping, stippling, sponging and rubbing colors in.
  • When working with Clear, color can be applied to the back, to be seen through the plastic after shrinking. Whether or not the front (impressed) side was sanded gives another variation. Sanding the front side, gives a frosted, "beach glass" look. Leaving the sheet unsanded gives a smooth, glassy look. You can also use this variation for Translucent, White and Black shrink plastic.
  • Highlighting a design is usually thought of as applying color to the high spots. By applying color overall, to the low spots as well as the high spots and then sanding or rubbing the color off of the high spots, the design is "highlighted" in reverse.

Do not heat shrink plastic above 550degrees F (287dgrees C).
Conforms to ASTM-D-4236 (LHAMA)

Copyright 2010 Lucky Squirrel (many thanks to them for this wonderful information)

 


Grafix Ink Jet Shrink Film

Ink Jet Printable as a PDF

For complete instructions and tips please download the PDF. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

 

How much does the Shrink Film shrink?

There are many variables in how much Shrink Film will shrink, i.e. type of oven, temperature used, and time; in general Shrink Film will shrink to about 20% of its original size and become thicker.

 

How thick is the Shrink Film?

All Shrink Film styles are .010 prior to baking (or the thickness of a business card).

 

Can I use an embossing heat gun to shrink my Shrink Film?

Yes, we suggest using tweezers or a stylus to hold the film while you heat.

 

Can I put my Shrink Film in a Laser printer/copier?

No, Shrink Film will shrink when exposed to heat. Laser printers/copiers generate heat while they process. Putting Shrink Film in either could cause serious damage to the equipment.

 

How do I know which side of my Inkjet Shrink Film to print on?

Both sides are printable.

 

My Inkjet Shrink Film will not load in my printer, what do I do?

Try changing the printer settings to a thicker paper option photo, glossy, etc. The available options will vary according to your printer model. If this solution does not work, we suggest contacting the printer manufacturer for additional assistance.

 

My Shrink Film curled up, what do I do?

Shrink Film will curl up, then flatten back out, this is simply part of the shrinking process. Be patient while shrinking and wait for it to flatten out. If your film curls and sticks to itself, simply remove from the oven and using toothpicks or tweezers un-stick and return it to the oven. Placing a heavy weight vellum or piece of parchment paper on top of your projects while shrinking will minimize curling and sticking. Keep a spatula handy when shrinking so that you can use it to flatten projects as they are removed from the oven and still hot.

 

What type of markers/media work best on Shrink Film?

Permanent markers/pens work the best on non-Inkjet styles of Shrink Film.

 

Do I need to seal my Shrink Film designs?

It is not necessary to seal your finished pieces. However, you can protect pieces that will be handled often with a polyurethane sealer.


Grafix Shrink Film

This plastic is for hand decoration- it cannot be run through an inkjet printer!

 

Ink Jet Printable as a PDF

For complete instructions and tips please download the PDF. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

 

How much does the Shrink Film shrink?
There are many variables in how much Shrink Film will shrink, i.e. type of oven, temperature used, and time; in general Shrink Film will shrink to about 44% to 50% of its original size and become thicker.

How thick is the Shrink Film?
All Shrink Film styles are .010” prior to baking (or the thickness of a business card).

Can I use an embossing heat gun to shrink my Shrink Film?
Yes, we suggest using tweezers or a stylus to hold the film while you heat.

Can I put my Shrink Film in a Laser printer/copier?
No, Shrink Film will shrink when exposed to heat. Laser printers/copiers generate heat while they process. Putting Shrink Film in either could cause serious damage to the equipment.

I printed on both sides of my Shrink Film and it smeared, why?
Grafix has several styles of Shrink Film, check your packaging to make sure you have the Inkjet printable style (either purple or pink packaging), if not try using permanent markers or rubberstamps instead.

My Shrink Film curled up, what do I do?
Shrink Film will curl up, then flatten back out, this is simply part of the shrinking process. Be patient while shrinking and wait for it to flatten out. If your film curls and sticks to itself, simply remove from the oven and using toothpicks or tweezers un-stick and return it to the oven. Placing a heavy weight vellum or piece of parchment paper on top of your projects while shrinking will minimize curling and sticking. Keep a spatula handy when shrinking so that you can use it to flatten projects as they are removed from the oven and still hot.

What type of markers/media work best on Shrink Film?
Permanent markers/pens work the best on non-Inkjet styles of Shrink Film.

Do I need to seal my Shrink Film designs?
It is not necessary to seal your finished pieces. However, you can protect pieces that will be handled often with a polyurethane sealer.

 

 

Ink Jet Printable as a PDF

For complete instructions and tips please download the PDF. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

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