Have you heard of dichroic glass? It’s a colorful, artsy type of fused glass often used to make pendants and fancy schmancy jewelry you might find in an art gallery gift shop. It’s good lookin’ stuff. Learn to use shrink plastic sheets that mimic that fancy glass. No one will believe these flashy charms are plastic!
Replacing glass with shrink plastic sheets….
True dichroic glass is created by layering glass and metal oxides and firing them in a glass kiln, sometimes multiple times. The iridescent glass that results is beautiful but the process is out of reach for most at home crafters.
Using a few kid friendly (and budget friendly) craft supplies we managed to create a fused glass look alike that is accessible to everyone!
Every once in a while you hit on something that really excites you? This project was it for me. I made and made, and tried it different ways, with different materials. What I’m showing you is my favorite combinations! but there are many variations worth trying if you have different materials on hand!
Preparing for shrink art….
The material you cannot do without for this project is good old shrink plastic sheets, commonly known by the brand name Shrinky Dinks.. Yeah, that’s right; the same stuff you used to make plastic keychains out of as a kid is going to make some sweet jewelry.
There are so many fun shrink plastic sheet kits but for this project I used the Crystal Clear 10 sheet pack. Ten sheets of this would make a crazy amount of these small fused glass pieces. Because the amount of shrink plastic material needed is so small this would be a pretty economical project to do with a group!
All those pretty colors….
It is possible to color shrink plastic in a number of ways. Sharpie permanent markers do a fair job. I had the best luck with plain black mixed with metallic Sharpies. These looked the least “plastic-y.” You can even try colored pencils or rubber stamps.
But these rich, abstract, crazy vibrant colors came from alcohol inks. I had bought this little three color set of alcohol inks by Adirondack Lights for a past project. Because they are so concentrated I still had lots left even after letting my eight year old use them freely.
(I love giving kids access to “adult” art materials. It feels so special and exciting!) Check out this post to see some of my most favorite art supplies that are grown up but also perfect for young artists!
First we decorated half sheets of shrinky dinks with the ink. By decorate I mean we freely dropped color onto the smooth plastic and watched it swirl. We used an eyedropper to add a few drops of rubbing alcohol. This is a process over which you have little to no control. It’s captivating to watch.
Let these beauties dry for an hour or so.
Cut ’em up….
After the inks were dry we cut them into smallish abstract shapes. Follow the directions on the shrink plastic sheets by baking at 350 degrees for about three minutes. The plastic will curl up and then lay down flat again when it’s done shrinking. (I’m guessing the glass in your oven door is slightly cleaner than mine and will allow this viewing!) If you can peek into the oven it is pretty cool to watch!
Stack up your shrink art charms and do it again….
So, this step is the key. Layer a Pyrex dish with a piece of parchment paper. Here were going to assemble all of the already shrunk pieces into an interesting little composition. Layer them or stack them up.
Bake for an additional 12-14 minutes at approximately 450 degrees.
The extra heat actually melts the layers of plastic together and rounds the edges of the shrink plastic. They are SO pretty and an accessible way to get that fused glass look!
What to make with that beautiful fused glass…
In order to be used as jewelry, like we did, your shrink art pieces will need a hole drilled. Holes made prior to the second shrinking will melt closed because of the extra high heat. A tiny drill bit, after the shrink art charms have cooled is the easiest solution.
A little jewelry “findings kit” contained all the jump rings, chains, and clasps we needed to make many shrink art gifts. These would also make beautiful sun catchers, wind chime charms, magnets, pins, etc. The possibilities are endless!