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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Shrinky Dinks: The PAAS of Christmas

Not that any of you lack for holiday craft ideas, I’m sure, but I was recently introduced to the wide and wonderful world of a product that somehow I missed entirely in my childhood.  In all my treasure troves of useless information, how is it that I’ve missed a product going by the name of Shrinky Dinks until now?  Observe then a great wrong righted.

My education comes at the hand of Alison Morris, former ShelfTalker blogger and bookseller.  Back in December of 2008 Alison wrote a post called Shrinky Dinks Advance Science, Adorn Trees.  The title refers in part to the research being done with Shrinky Dinks and stem cell research, but you’ll have to see the link in Alison’s post yourself to get the true gist of it.  In any case, Alison and her husband Gareth along with our friends Lori and Josh stopped over yesterday for a little good old-fashioned tree trimming.  While here, Ms. Morris managed to produce Shrinky Dinks AND colored pencils for our amusement.

If you are as clueless about this product as I was here’s what they consist of.

#1: You take the see-through plastic and place it over an image.

#2: You trace that image onto the plastic.

#3: You then fill it in with colored pencils.

#4: You cut out your image (remembering to punch a hole in the top).

#5: You throw the image into your stove for a minute or so, watch it shrink (if you’re lucky enough to have a stove you can look into), and then remove it and VOILA!  Your image is now brighter, smaller, and perfect for hanging on the tree or whatever object in your home can be bedecked.

Since the bulk of the gathered had some kind of connection to children’s literature my current crop of children’s books were nabbed for tracing ideas.  Here are the remarkable results:

#1: Napoleon from the cover of Hark, A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

As you can see the likeness is extraordinary.  The fact that his thin little sword didn’t break right off is remarkable in and of itself.  It did curl up a bit (Shrinky Dinks have a tendency to curl) but not so much that it wouldn’t strike fear in a fellow Shrinky Dink’s heart.

#2: Betty Bunny stuffing chocolate cake in her sock from Betty Bunny Loves Cake by Michael Kaplan, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

Because the SDs have a tendency to shrink (no misnomer here) we did some experiments with size with varied results.  As you can see, in the case of Ms. Bunny here size was her friend.  As opposed to the next one . . .

#3: A robot from . . . I’d rather not say (though I suspect the book’s artist would recognize it, even in its mangled form).

Yeah.  This one was mine.  Illustrative genius I am not, though I did add the Santa hat.  In my defense, his arm curled up and then snapped right off.  Unfamiliar as I was with Dink technology I didn’t realize that thin long strips can be prone to whirly curling.  Noted!

#4: A pirate from People by Blexbolex

Nice, right?  Apparently he had gold epaulettes that didn’t survive the oven.  Still a beaut.

#5: Annabelle from Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

This book is slated to be published in early 2012.  We had a galley sitting about so Alison took her hand to this.  What you probably can’t make out is how beautifully she has rendered the multi-colored stitches in Annabelle’s sweater.  Stunning.

#6: Voytek the bear.  Star of the book Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak

I mentioned that Alison’s husband was present, yes?  Did I happen to mention that her husband is Gareth Hinds, the man behind such books as Beowulf, King Lear, and the art in Gift from the Gods by Lise Lunge-Larsen?  Earlier Alison had found the Tak book on our shelf and told us who exactly Voytek the bear is.  The best encapsulation is probably found on Badass of the Week (though I should warn some of you that the language won’t be workplace friendly for all of you).  Long story short, this was a real bear who helped fight with the Polish.  Yep.  So what Gareth did here was a bit of original illustration.  No tracing for him.  He just made his own Voytek which, let’s just admit it, is pretty awesome.

As craft programs go the flaw with this is that you need a working stove.  Oddly, my first branch at NYPL had a working stove in it (the janitors in old NYPL branches used to have apartments of their own which, in time, were turned into staff lounges) so it’s not impossible.  Librarians could always take the art from the kids and return with it the next day, shrunk down to perfect sizes.  So enjoy!  A toy idea that was most popular in the mid-eighties is now the perfect way to bedeck your tree with your favorite characters.  Big thanks to Alison, Gareth, Lori, and Josh for coming over (and for giving us their ornaments afterwards!!).

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Awww, Betsy, I’m flattered!

  2. Oh, I love that little Napoleon!
    This makes a really nice book launch activity too.

  3. The instructions say that you could use a toaster oven – does make it a slightly more portable activity.
    Wouldn’t it be great to do up a whole tree with characters from children’s books?

  4. I just popped in to say we do this with a toaster oven at my library.

  5. I’ve done shrinky dinks several times with preteens and teens–they love it (we made shrinky dink jewelry). A toaster oven works just as well; they love watching it curl up and then shrink. If you’re using markers, it’s best to use Sharpies-they won’t bleed.

  6. Oh, the hours we spent making shrinky-dinks when I was a kid. May have to go out to the craft store and buy some just for a walk down memory lane. Thanks for the memories, and welcome to the fun!

  7. We spent the weekend making Shrinky Dink presents, and hanging shrunken ornaments on the tree. Good times.

  8. I was well-aware of Shrinky Dinks, but I’ve never seen such COOL Shrinky Dinks before. Well done!

  9. This sooo makes me wish I had friends who would come over just to make Shrinky Dinks with me. Probably I do, they just don’t live nearby enough to come over for spontaneous Shrinky-Dinking.

  10. Joyce Farnsworth says

    Stunning! And don’t forget you can make them out of takeout lids, which really makes them the perfect New York sport.