Category Archives: Shrink Plastic

Ever Reach That Point

Where you set the tools in your hand down and say “f- this”. Yep, you guessed it. I reached this point tonight.

I draw a few of my rings. Not many, because frankly, I don’t enjoy it. I’m not an artist in the pens and paint sense, so when something won’t work, I get frustrated quick.

I can do basic stuff. I keep it simple, and don’t get involved. Tonight, I smeared the fourth ring in a row and threw it. Far. I then made the decision that between the lack of glasses, and how short my temper was becoming over the issue, I wouldn’t draw any rings for now. I’d far rather work with the computer to make them and I’m far better at it.  So I will wait until I have the ink for the printer in a couple weeks, and I will wait until I have printable shrink plastic. It’s simply not worth shattering my nerves.

I may eventually pick up the stencils, or some other stuff, and I will always hand color pieces, but I just feel tonight as a snapping point and if this isn’t enjoyable, I’m going to be miserable at this. And that idea bothers me.

I’m at the same point with glitters and rhinestones, but I feel both of those are issues I can overcome with proper tools and am taking the steps to get those items I need so that I can add some sparkle to the rings and other pieces.

So, when I have my supplies, I’ll be ready, I can spend hours happily creating layouts for rings, and I’m getting ready to do holiday ones. I’ve got some great vintage Halloween and Christmas ones, and I have every intention of covering Chanukah and who knows what other holidays I’ll come up with.

No, in other parts, I’ve sat and thought this over carefully. I feel that as much as I enjoy other hobbies, I’d far rather concentrate on the rings. I feel I can very realistically have an entire Etsy shop with my rings, and the other items I make in shrink plastic, but with a heavy concentration on the rings. I enjoy making them, I find it easy, and I have fun with it. I like the rolled ones, and I enjoy the flat ones mounted onto adjustable bases. When I expand into cufflinks and tie tacks, I have a feeling I’ll really enjoy those too. And I’ll never stop doing the buttons, I can only see that line expanding once I have proper materials.

But I’m pleased to not be sewing, or doing some craft that really isn’t me. I’ll be able to create with resin as well, and still pour metal, and I feel alright with it, because it keeps my shop cohesive, they’re all interrelated in a way.
Now, for the good news. I couldn’t get a dot com, but I was able to get a dot net. And I as able to find someone to sell me the name that wasn’t GoDaddy. I refuse to use a company who has a founder who prides himself on killing. Don’t get me wrong, I love things like deer hunting, but what possible use does an elephant have as food?

I went with Name Cheap and I have to say, I had an issue with my redirect (so I thought) and the very kind Dmitry was back to me instantly. And apologized for taking so long!! So it’s official, I am http://www.dirtygirldesigns.net and that goes right to my Etsy store. I feel it’s the first step in the right direction, now to get those sales!!

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Filed under Business, Musings, Rings, Shrink Plastic

How you doing?

I’ve always felt with my Etsy that I was just doing it to get some spare cash here and there. And really, I still do. Anything I sell on Etsy is spare cash for me. But, having said that, my last 6 months have been about getting off my ass and making my Etsy actual work as a viable income.

And no, it isn’t a viable income just yet. But with all the hard work I’ve put in for the last two months, I’m starting to see results. I’ve gotten critiques, I’ve had questions for people, I’ve had friends help me set certain things up for me like Google Analytics, and just in general revamped the shop.My goals for the next two weeks are pretty simple.

  • A banner. Bunny from Faerie Garden Fancies is working on one for me, and I’m hoping to have it up this weekend or early next week.
  • Ring inventory.  I’m waiting on an Etsy payment to clear, or to sell some more stuff so that I can buy supplies. And right now, that’s ink and more printable shrink plastic. I’m hoping to be able to get more than 6 sheets, but 6 sheets gives me nearly 100 rings of the all shrink type, so I won’t fuss much if I can’t get more than that right now. I’ve been told to up my inventory and to keep adding to it as often as possible. Since the rings seem to be my strong point, my goal is to get at least 200 into the shop before the end of August. Poor Bunny, her camera will never be able to charge.
  • More pimping. At least daily submitting to some handmade site, or some kind of ad. I’m really looking for fellow bloggers who would like to carry my add in exchange for me hosting theirs.
  • Sales. This is connected to the pimping, but I really need a sale a week or I really can’t see how I’ll get business. I need to be visible! So, pushing my stuff on people, getting FB people to share my links, and just keep going until I get over that hump into the 30 sales area. I seem to be stuck at 28.

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The Ups and Downs to Shrink Plastic

When things work out with me and shrink plastic, they work out VERY well. When they go wrong? They go VERY wrong.

So because this blog is about learning as much as my place to vent and yak my little fingers out, I’m going to go with the bad first.

Now, last year, I came up with a jointed doll that I dubbed the “Bondage Babes”. They’re for the kinsters who shop at Dirty Girl Designs  and I’ve never said otherwise. Sometimes those in the lifestyle like a more fun way to declare their interests and the Bondage Babes are still cute enough to be taken as just a casual necklace.

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As you can see, they are super simple, they just have a protective glaze on them and have basic features. They aren’t meant to be real detailed.

So, I decided that given the abilities of the inkjet shrink, I would computerize the BBs. Easy right? Well, yes and no. I figured it’d be hit or miss and it is still a work in progress, but my friend Bunnykissd who is a graphics genius (I very honestly try to avoid working with this sort of thing, let other, far more agile brains do this) took the babes and put a few bodies onto a page that I could print out and then cut out the bodies. Giving me several bodies to a page instead of stamping them out by hand. (my next step is to somehow get my Cricut cutter to do what I want for once and cut the Babes out) so yay for an easier life! And this morning she sent me a sheet with several bodies on it.

I was thrilled! I printed them out onto some regular paper and here’s where I made my first mistake. I knew what the torso (including the head) measured. And I didn’t measure my print. I was so eager I said “yay! Looks great! and used my last piece of inkjet shrink to print out the sheet of bodies.

Reader, I should have measured before printing. (yes, I’m reading Jane Eyre, bite me) Turned out that they are an inch too short. And with shrink plastic, this can make such a difference. There is no room for error. None.

SANY3275

Now, on the left, is a ruined Babe (ain’t they all?) and on the right is the new Babe. Now, you can see, this difference is massive. Oh, I’m not crying in the corner, I am a little upset, with myself, not with the Babe or the graphic, I should have measured first before printing onto the precious shrink. I also don’t feel this is a massive issue, just annoying. I can’t work with this size, not at pre-shrunk size, that’s fine, but at shrunk size, this is tiny for things like jump rings. I’ll probably just print on the other side some rings that I can sell as “oops” because of the dolls printed on the back. I’ll figure something out. This does show how crucial size is in shrink plastic. So the Babes will be delayed until Bunny and I can figure this out.

Now, onto the good.

So I’ve been doing buttons with my inkjet shrink, I’m now officially out and will be trying another brand. I still feel Shrink Dinks brand is way too expensive and am trying a couple sheets of the Grafix brand, that I can buy in packs of 50. Yes, I’m semi converted to the inkjet instead of the hit or miss of printing on regular shrink. I’ll still be using regular shrink, but whatever that coating is, it makes it worth the $2 a sheet.

Now, my deep love in crafting is metal and resin. I love both. But there is an instant gratification to shrink plastic that I can’t deny. It also impresses people, when it shouldn’t really, that you are far more creative than you really are.

Buttons are easy. I can’t stress this enough. I find images I want, get them into the shape that works, and punch them out with a 2” punch. I then punch holes and then shrink. I add UTEE and then sand and drill. Done. Not complicated. In fact I feel pretty guilty for charging $2 each for buttons but I’ve had several people tell me that if anything, I’m not charging enough. I’ve looked at other buttons made of shrink plastic and sometimes I tend to agree. Don’t get me wrong, hand made art and drawing it yourself generally beat computer images hands down, but that’s if they are good. And what I’ve seen being charged $3 each for? Ain’t good.

I’m unsure if I’ll sell many buttons one at a time, I plan on keeping them in groups of 6 for the $12. I feel most people want at least 6, and yes, $12 is a bit much for buttons, but I also feel you aren’t likely to go to JoAnn Fabrics (there, just two buttons can run you $15 if you follow that link)  and find Elizabeth Tudor portrait buttons.

Yeah. You heard me. Elizabeth Tudor. (yes, she became Elizabeth I of England later)

A friend and fellow SCAdian (again with SCAdian friends wanting buttons!) had admired what I’d done so far when I mentioned that I’d intended on doing some of Elizabeth I of England. She began to squeal. The “meat colored dress” portrait was our favorite. Even better, she wanted the buttons for a mundane (non SCA) sweater. So I ran up a sheet of 12 fairly quickly.

Flemish_School_Elizabeth_I_when_Princess_c1546

You can see why lots of people love this Flemish School painting of the young Elizabeth Tudor.  The composed young ginger here is clearly secure, yet at the same time, vulnerable. Not yet the rigid, scarred and scary queen she later became. Her salmon colored dress is pretty, and you can see she has her mother’s graceful neck (if still intact, unlike her mother’s)

This is a case of when it works, it works great. I’m nearly out of ink in my printer, but you know what’s nice with shrink plastic? Inkjet or regular, colors get stronger and darker when you bake. So while there is some variation in these buttons, it doesn’t subtract from them in any way.

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I really can’t wait to do these “portrait” buttons with shanks. Without anything to detract from the design (the holes) the full glory of portraits like these will be amazing. I also intend on experimenting with crystals around the edges to get a more lush appearance. Think of the old miniatures with pearls or gems around the edges and you’ll have an idea. But at the same time, the buttons with holes are still good, after all, for a kid’s sweater, they’ll be on firmly. Shank buttons aren’t always the firmest of things.

So there’s without a doubt good and bad runs with projects, I mean, mistakes I make with resin and metal casting are epic at times. Metal I can luckily re-melt, resin mistakes are pretty harsh, there’s no fixing those. Shrink plastic however, because its so cheap (well, the non inkjet variety anyhow) mistakes are more lessons in swearing. I’m annoyed, but I can move on fairly easily.

 

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Inkjet Shrink Plastic vs Regular Shrink

I got a surprise commission today, but it gave me a chance to do some serious experimenting. I’d worked a couple times with inkjet shrink plastic but not in any depth really so I won’t claim I know the stuff beyond avoiding it because it is insanely expensive. But anyhow, an old friend had seen my buttons and asked if I could do some custom buttons, he wanted some for an SCA event, and I said “sure no problem”. Well, some rough starts later, including some miscommunication on the image he wanted used, I finally thought I had the images in the right place for being punched out with my Fiskars 2” punch. And yes, I did. I did a test run on some plain paper with grey scale (I hate wasting color ink) and the test turned out great. I knew however that I really didn’t want to do these on clear shrink plastic, which was all I had left. So when he asked, I told him that translucent or white shrink plastic would be best. Now, normally, I’d have hopped up onto Lucky Squirrel and ordered a big pack of white. But, he was in a rush (he wants these by Thursday) so I sent him to Hobby Lobby. I figured he’d just get a pack of white, he only needs 30 buttons after all. But when he arrived, he’d bought 2 packages of white, and 2 packages of the inkjet shrink. To my delight, he said to keep them and just see what I could do with them. I actually really wanted him to take back the 3 packages leaving me just one of the inkjet, but he’s that kind of guy. So thank you Terry. I owe you.

So, my biggest drawback to the inkjet shrink plastic so far? Cost. Because it has a special coating of some kind, at Hobby Lobby, it is $12.99 for 6 sheets. That means each sheet costs a little over $2 each. Owie. (and 6 sheets at Hobby Lobby of Bright White is around $5 compared to my $13.99 for 24 sheets at LS) break this down a bit further, and it’s around 18 cents per button. Which isn’t terrible, and sometimes I can get more than 12 buttons off a sheet, but 12 is about average.

So is it worth that? Well, yes and no. The idea of paying $13 for 6 sheets of plastic causes me to cringe. I admit it. I’d have never bought those sheets, much less 2 packs. Theory says one package will give me at least 72 buttons. And yes, you just keep breaking this down. I sell sets of 6 buttons for $8–$12 per set, depending.

Now how about the printing right? I have to admit. Wow. Just, wow. Now, as I’ve said before, you can print using a printer on regular shrink. You need to sand the hell out of it. On this stuff, nope. And part of the issue here is white versus clear, so keep that in mind too. The biggest advantage I see is that when I touch a button or pendant, it’s not smearing halfway to hell when I touch it out of the printer. The inkjet can be touched instantly. That saves me time in a lot of ways. So that feature, yes, makes the cost worth it.

Now, lets have some comparison pictures shall we?

Translucent and clear SANY3178

This is translucent and clear in the Russian buttons, and one of my “mistake” buttons for my friend. The “mistake” button is clear shrink with some glazing on it to create dimension.

SANY3181  SANY3185

See what I mean? First, the white really makes the colors pop. Big time. And the lines are far more crisp. Amazing. The second picture shows the glazing added, I’ll be hitting the sides with an emery board to remove the doming material, along with drilling into the holes to free those up again. In real life the button is a more ivory color.

Now, while I think the clear domed buttons look great, the white looks amazing. Here’s another good example. Both are Russian Button, the 4 done on translucent, the second set done on white inkjet.

07-12-12 012 SANY3187

Now, don’t get me wrong, my friend Bunny does some sick photography, but the fact is, these look amazing on white shrink. I can’t wait to dome these and really make them just explode with vibrancy.  I really am looking forward to trying some pendants and some rings with both the white and the inkjet.

So my end opinion? Is the inkjet stuff worth it? I’m torn. I really am. I think in the logical part of my head, I accept that the cost isn’t that bad when you break it down, I can get several pendants, rings, buttons or what have you on one sheet, which means at $2 a sheet, each piece costs pennies to make. (not including ink from the printer and adding things like chains or other things) but then there’s this part of me (thank you Scotch grandparents) that flinches at the idea of paying $13 for 6 sheets of plastic. I think in the end I’ll be buying the inkjet stuff occasionally and using the white 99% of the time for things like the buttons no matter if its inkjet or just plain white shrink from LS.

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Shrink Plastic – Now with More Oomph

So I finally invested in a cheap printer, and today has been all about experimenting with shrink plastic and a printer. It’s been interesting to say the least. I’ve now got a pretty good idea of what I can do, and what I can’t do.

First off, anyone who claims that you HAVE to have the special shrink made for inkjet is full of shit. I used clear (and in one case a small piece of translucent) from Lucky Squirrel , and my disclaimer is that even Lucky Squirrel says not to put their stuff through a printer.

Bullocks I say.

But there are some rules.

First thing I learned, you can’t just print right on the shrink without sanding. It just don’t work Jeeves. You have to sand it. Then rinse it and let it dry. I also learned, if you’re going to color it, sand both sides. If it’s a color print, you obviously don’t need to worry about it. But I do a lot of black and white stuff that I then color on the back (I believe this process is called “color back” oddly enough) and then I bake as normal. But its far easier to sand both sides before printing if you plan on doing this. Trust me, sanding it on the back after printing is a nightmare.

It’s wet. Don’t touch it if you can help it. Otherwise yes, it smears. And boy, does it smear. Luckily, baking sets the ink and sealing your piece will help. I use a resin based sealer, but yes, clear nail polish will work. But use caution, you can smear a piece. So sand deeply so the ink really has a place to grab. And really rinse so that you don’t gum up your printer.

And yes, plan on getting inky fingers. I’m still looking like a Gutenberg apprentice.

So, onto the pictures.

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Resin?

So I’m getting ready, starting next week to cast resin. I’m not going to just yet discuss much what’s going to be made, beyond the fact that I am expanding my ring designs to include items either domed or cast with resin. While I’ve cast with metal, resin is a new medium for me. I’m not real worried on being able to do it, my worries have to do with being able to tolerate the fumes (I have exceptionally bad asthma) and I admit, that considering how little my Etsy sells that I’m getting involved in another hobby that won’t pay for itself.

 

I am thinking though that I need to do physical shows again. I’m hoping to find someone to partner up with someone who wants to be on the road at least locally and wants to do the shows at least every weekend.

 

I think my resin ideas are good. Two of the ideas I’m just not ready to discuss yet, but I can say that the rings will be done easily, my ring bases, with either a solid resin casting of some kind or with domed shrink plastic will hopefully be live as of next week. I have some great vintage stickers and some awesome items to embed into resin for pendants and rings.

I realize there are already a lot of resin casters on Etsy, but given the nature of Etsy, I know my items (beyond a basic shape) won’t be like anything anyone else casts.

 

Here’s to hoping it works!

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Shrink Plastic Chairs

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So I got creative over the weekend. These are 1:18 scale shrink plastic chairs. I regret not taking pictures of the process, but I will be doing so.

The chairs are drawn out flat, in 1:6 scale (Playscale) and then are decorated, in one case, with a French provincial-ish design, the other is flat out Hello Kitty love in the form of Charmmy Kitty.

The other two are a frosted version, that was actually the very first chair, and a clear chair that I am calling a mini-mock Louis Ghost Chair

After the shrinking process, I quickly wrap the still hot around a can on Avon powder. Semi cooled, I then would pull together the center front. If you look close you see that I’ll have to glue the center front together. I’m currently debating glue of choice. I’m torn between super glue and beading glue. I’ve also hesitated on using my glue gun but an experiment with the very first chair which was a black ladder back. The glue just didn’t hold. Super glue might melt the plastic is my concern. So we’ll see what happens.

On a side note, the black SP is utterly terrible with the curved chair. With the ladder back it worked pretty well.

The CK chair, has a seat for it, although in a couple photos using it as a table top for the hot pink legs. It’s actually the seat to the chair. It’s a hair off in measurements, but I’ll fill that in with a glue or something and Sharpie it.

I’m also looking into a couple types of sealer. I’m having bad smearing issues on a chair and the rings.

A good post I found suggest spraying, then sealing. So I’ll be investing  in some of those products.

So why this scale? Honestly? It worked out this way. I had no idea if my own math was right (I’m terrible at math) and a friend didn’t answer my text, but a fast Facebook post asking what the answer was resulted in the answer I’d gotten, that it was Petite Princess or Tomy scale. This makes me very happy. These are my two vintage collections. But being able to add in pieces to an eventual PP or Tomy house is amazing. It doesn’t limit me to just the collection, of existing pieces. And, I’m fairly sure I can do lamps that actually light up.

Now I want to work on bowls. I’ve got a theory, I just need to get the right tools.

The legs to the table, same thing. They are notched to slide together. This will be nice for some super modern clear pieces and reproduction Provincial.

I’m going to be finishing these up and listing them on Etsy hopefully next week. Thoughts?

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Shrink Plastic Articulated Doll

I had a rubber stamp of doll parts. So, I happily stamped a piece of SP having no idea what I was getting myself into.

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These shrink down really tiny. I use straight pins that I trim and twist to use as jumps. No pliers either so it’s a bit of a nightmare.

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Success at Last!

I recieved my shrink plastic and embossing powder yesterday. I’ve done zilch with the powder, but so far, two nice rings.

This is just one, it’ll fit about a size 8 and smaller. I think they turned out pretty nice!

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Crafter’s Withdrawal and Thoughts on SP Buttons

I am TOTALLY out of shrink plastic. I  have searched, and turned over long lost crafting rocks and none is to be seen. I don’t have much desire to work on anything else, so of course this means I’m pacing the floors like a crackhead without a fix.

One of the items I have every intention of putting into the Etsy store, along with the 500 other “hobbies”  I have, are shrink plastic products. Since so far the posts have been on this product only, I’m sure no one is surprised (never fear, I’ll be posting other items in the very near future).

I don’t especially want to get trapped into the mistake of making only one thing (rings) with SP, so I have every intention of doing earrings, necklaces and of course, my favorite, buttons. Me being me, I don’t especially care for the cheap look that these buttons sometimes have. I like a nice crisp look, and plan on glazing more than a few buttons.

A great example of the type of button I am speaking of can be seen at Oh! I Like That.. these buttons are simple in bright crisp colors and the artwork simply cannot be beat. Imagine these on a vintage cardigan.

And yes, several will say very naughty and dirty things. What’s the sense otherwise?

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