Friday, March 28, 2014

Lesson: Shrinky Dink Jewelry

When I was teaching at Maine South, I was the sponsor of our Photo Club.  During that time, my colleague suggested we make shrink dink photos... and so we did!  With that club, we made keychains and zipper pulls mostly.  With Mixed Media, I thought this would be a perfect project to explore functional art, mixing jewelry making and photography with contemporary materials, AND give me an opportunity for the students to wear their artwork to ADVERTISE our class (yes, shameless plug to take more art)!!  

STEP 1:  Practice using Wire and Tools:  
Contour Wire Sculptures 

For this mini project, students made contour drawings of familiar 3D objects, then used the tools (which they traced and made notes in their sketchbook projects) to manipulate the wire using one continuous line.  (And... way to scaffold, people!)

STEP 2: Preparation for Creating

First, we take a look at Functional Artwork and how jewelry is considered art.  We took a look at what a jewelry set is comprised of, types of jewelry, and what is a theme.  Students then brainstormed themes and sets that they would like to create.  The assignment was to create a set of 3 or more, with a theme.  

STEP 3:  Photo Manipulation

From their chosen themes, students were to take photos. Some of my students have taken photo class or are taking upper level photo class and wanted to use Photoshopped images.  Great!  But some students did not have knowledge of photo manipulation beyond what their phones come with.  Funny... now in the age of Instagram... I digress.  I took the students to the computer lab and had them log on to a few different free photo manipulation sites. Students had to manipulate their photos in some way to unify them for their jewelry set.  

STEP 4:  My Part (and some student)

Don't you love when I add more prep time to your already crazy prep schedule?  Yep, that's right!  Now you have the students drop the photos onto your flash drive, or Google Drive (we didn't have that at the time I did this project).  Place them into Illustrator using a layer of shapes as a mask.  Change the opacity to 40% - 50% and make sure that the pendant sizes are larger... because, of course, they shrink.  When they shrink, the images become more saturated, hence the reason to change the opacity.  

you can see here how the photo is
 under the layout mask... 
Then, in Photoshop, I changed the
overall opacity to 40-50%. 

Students use exacto knives and/or scissors to cut out shapes.

I also, then, print all of the shrink dinks on printable shrink dink paper.  The students will then cut out the pieces and punch holes wherever they want to attach to the jewelry chains.  

STEP 5:  Shrink.  
Students bake shrinky dinks in a toaster oven.  The shrinky dinks will shrink, curl, and then flatten out again.  When they begin to flatten, that is when you can take them out.  If you take them out of the oven and they are warped, you can heat them back up and let them curl again, and flatten again.  The students LOVE to watch these shrink.  I mean... who doesn't?  I could stare at those things for hours!

STEP 6:  Make and Attach to Jewelry
Students use wire to make jump rings, connect, use other findings to create a set.  
Earrings, necklace(s), bracelets, cuffs, rings, hair decor, zipper pulls... 
Lastly... Self reflection and student critique.  


  1. I love your wire contour sculptures! I don't have wire, but I do have a ton of yarn (and glue, and waxed paper) so I'm going to try making "dipped yarn" contour sculptures this week. Put wax paper on top of drawing, dip yarn in glue, and arrange to follow drawing. Then allow to dry and peel of of wax paper. If they turn out well, I'll send you a picture :)

    1. Love the idea!! Thanks for sharing that process!! I'd love to see your outcomes!