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Shrink Film Experiment

  I wrote recently on my experiments with alcohol inks. In my last experiment, I used the inks on shrink film and I was very interested in the results. I looked at the wings I had quickly inked and I suddenly saw an opportunity to use my fine art skills in jewelry. I love making jewelry. It does satisfy something in me but I am constantly trying to find ways to bring my art into my jewelry. The wire is lovely but popping colors? Even better!

So I set about on a trial to see just exactly how much art could I bring to a miniature medium like this. Here are my results and I think you will be quite pleased as I was.

First off, I wanted a nice intricate piece with lots of colors. Feathers have been on my mind a lot so I did a sketch of a feather in pencil. I didn’t take a lot of time on this piece but I ended up loving it. So I will definitely go back and redo this in a larger size and ink it properly. This is definitely a sketch, not a finished piece.

This is the piece I am going to do. This image is only about 4″ tall.

I did a lot of reading on this subject before I started. I wanted to know the pros and cons and to catch the little tips people throw out in forums, etc. I learned that a sanded surface works great for colored pencils. Since I had no colored Sharpies or other alcohol markers, colored pencils it was.

I had already did quite a few test runs on my oven and slowly took the temperature down till I found the good temp. 140c seems to be just about right. 

I did a test with my colored pencils. I have many brands and wanted to see which pencils would work the best. I decided that the Marco pencils seemed to go on much nicer than the others. Later during the coloring of the piece I actually found the Stabilos going on much smoother.

Here is my little color chart I made for reference. 

The brighter side is the unsanded side, as you can see the titles are backwards.

While I was at it I made a ruler too. This is a great little reference tool to give you an idea of how large your piece of plastic needs to be to get the proper size.

As you can see, I still hadn’t figured out my oven temps with this piece and 
the colored pencil templates and they cooked way too fast.
I could probably put it back in the oven and flatten it a bit more if I wanted to

After doing my pencil test I sanded down my film. I took my jewelers sanding blocks in gradient grits ranging from P60 to P600 and set about sanding the whole surface area. I tried to make it as smooth as possible and eliminate as many lines as I could.

Many people had talked of sanding their paper but only with one grit and in a back and forth motion. This didn’t seem enough to me so I sanded it as I would a piece of jewelry. It came out with a pretty good smooth surface though there were still some scratches in it.

Next, I taped my film over my pencil sketch and inked it with my fine tip sharpie on the unsanded side.  Having that one sharpie on hand sure saved me.


After it dried I turned it over to do the pencil on the sanded side.

Here is the piece with the colors finished. The shiny side is shown.

Then it was time for the oven. I was so nervous and thinking that maybe I was just a bit crazy to put so much time and effort into a shrink plastic piece!

By now I was used to the shrinking process and sat right in front of the oven. I opened it often to help the piece along when it curled too much. They can get hot but I don’t find them too hot to touch quickly. I just open the oven door, reach in and help it unbend a bit when it seems to be curling too much. Sometimes if they curl too much they stick together and I didn’t want that to happen.

It melted down well (with a little help) and then I set my bench block on top of it to flatten it further. It is nice and heavy and does the job perfectly!

Here is the finished piece and I am in love once again.


THis project made me so happy. Not only did I remind myself of how much I love to work with pencils and draw I also found a fantastic way to bring my fine art to my jewelry. 

Now my next job is to figure out how to wrap this in wire to make a pendant so that it satifies me. That itself might be a monumental task.

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