The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #380: Making Homemade Shrinky Dinks

This week, I’m discussing how I made homemade shrinky dinks using polystyrene (#6 plastic).  I experimented with both forms commonly found mostly in food packaging – styrofoam meat trays and clear plastic takeout and baked goods containers.  Of the two, I liked the clear ones best, since not only did I find they worked better, but you could color both sides (e.g. outline one side but color the back).  I found that adding a piece of parchment or freezer paper (which has a nonstick coating on one side) over the top of the film would keep the shrinky dink from folding in on itself (a problem I experienced with both the foam and clear kinds of polystyrene).  This tip I owe to Crafsman (see below), who did a video on making DIY shrinky dinks that I serendipitously saw when I was fiddling with this.  Check out his video:

In pictures:


For this project, you can reuse #6 plastic, which is often hard to recycle anyway.


Both the styrofoam and clear plastic forms work, though I personally found the clear form worked better.


You will want to draw your design on, aiming for on the larger side if you can, as the picture really will shrink about at least 50%.


One advantage of using styrofoam is that the colors stick better.  Light colors are fine, since they will darken when shrunk.


My son colored most of this one in and added the rainbow and a little dedication 🙂


I’m glad I took a picture beforehand, as my results were not great – the picture did shrink, just not in proportional ways.  It may have been a fluke, though.  I wonder if it stuck to the piece of freezer paper I put over it or the piece that was on the bottom.


I had better luck with clear polystyrene takeout container lids.  I used Sharpie markers to color in these.


Not all of these survived, unfortunately.  Some were victims of the experimentation process as I tried a variety of unsuccessful ways with a heat gun or uncovered in the oven. Regarding the latter, without someonthing over them, the pieces would commit suicide, essentially – they would shrivel up and fold on themselves, and the hot sides of the plastic would fuse together, rendering the image unintelligible.  


This one worked pretty well.   Had a pretty big piece.  It shrank relatively proportionally.  Below are some of the more successful shrinky dinks made with this method.





Give it a try!  Thanks for listening!


This fall, if you’re looking for an adult of child mask, check out Thirteenth Hour mask combo package on Etsy.  This fall, it became really hard to find good quality masks for our kids as they were going back to school.  There are still long wait times for some of the companies we like best, so I thought, why not try to find an alternative?  I eventually settled on the triple layer masks available for printing on by the company Flashbay.  They were one of the few companies I found that were transparent about their third party safety data (Junior:, Adult: which is nice.  I was impressed by how well these masks performed on the filtration tests, even after repeat washings.  Also, I really liked how both the ears and nose piece could be adjusted for a good fit.


The Thirteenth Hour mask combo also comes with Thirteenth Hour hand sanitizer! (But of course.)


There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up ( and get them there.

If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!


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