04 July 2011

Teen Summer Classes: Shrinky Dink Self-Portraits

 This week I taught my first summer Shrinky Dink Self-Portraits class. For the class, students draw self-portraits, which they transfer onto shrink plastic, color, and then bake in the toaster oven I bring to the classes with me.
For the class, I place stand up mirrors at each seat around the table. Students fold a sheet of printer paper in half and draw their self-portrait within the space.

After asking the students to tell me what a self-portrait is, I explain that a self-portrait is more than just a picture: we want our self-portraits to tell a story about who we are to someone who doesn't know us. So if you like cats, you might want to draw a picture of a cat. Or make your drawing of you be wearing a t-shirt in your favorite color.

I always have at least one student tell me that they can't draw, and I tell them that this project is a good way to practice their drawing skills. I tell them that drawing takes a lot of practice and that even people who can draw well didn't start out that way.

I also always tell the students that their drawing don't have to be perfect, because perfect is boring. I love it when I say this, because there is always at least one student who repeats the phrase to herself, like she is trying the idea on for size. I like to imagine that at least a few of my students here and there take that phrase home later and own it.

After the students have drawn a portrait they like, they trace it on to the shrink plastic (rough side) in pencil, and then trace over the pencil lines in marker.

The last step is to add color using colored pencils. Then they bring the design to me, where I punch a hole and bake it until it shrinks. This process amazes anyone who has never seen shrinky dinks in action!

I add a jump ring and ribbon to complete the necklace, and every student left wearing their creation.

I also make take home kits for the students which includes two small pre-punched pieces of shrink plastic, several long ribbons, and at-home instructions. So much fun!


  1. This is an awesome idea! I didn't know that you could use colored pencils on Shrinky Dinks, either...good to know!

  2. Colored pencils are my preferred medium -- markers tend to feather when you use them. If you were making this to sell, you'd need to apply a protective glaze of some sort because the pencil will rub off with time. I've used mod podge and diamond glaze, but have found that UTEE works really well. I bet you could do mod podge + resin, too, but I don't work much with resin and never with kids.


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