Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Color Mediums & Shrink Plastic...To Sand or Not-To Sand?!?!

I know I said I had some examples for you today but I thought of something I wanted to share first...how various mediums (ink, paints, dyes, colored pencils, etc.) react on shrink plastic or shrinky dinks.

(NOTE: I wanted to add here that I refer to the shrink stuff by several names ~ Shrink Plastic, Shrink Film, Shrinky Dinks, etc ~ Not to confuse people because various areas refer to in under these different names. I want to be sure that if someone searches for a particular type of shrink material they will get here no matter what they call it.)

First let me begin with the shrink plastic it's self....much of the time you will get shrink material that is smooth like a transparency ~ other than being a little stiffer they are hard to tell apart. Anyway, there are two schools of though on how to add color to a shrinky dink. Some people just add color as is while others feel you must sand the shrink plastic to get a nice finished color.

Now, I am on the fence. For some mediums I feel it's a must to sand before inking but for others it's just fine without. (more on this subject in a bit)

This brings me to today's post...I thought it would be good for you to see the difference (or no difference) between sanded and non-sanded surfaces.

The question of the day.....

To Sand or Not To Sand

NOTE: The following shrink plastic tiles have a medium added to an unsanded area (left) and the same medium on a sanded area (right). I tried a wide variety in hopes I might hit upon something in your stash! Also, I didn't show Sharpie Markers because they work great anywhere...sanded, unsanded, colors, etc. They make an excellent color medium choice when working with shrink film / shrinky dinks!
((Please excuse the cat hairs in some of the pics...it was all I could do to keep our kitten from running off with all of the tiles before I took the photos. I think you might even be able to see her shadow in a couple of the pics!!))

Lumiere Paints

shrink plastic n mediums 002

Versa Fine Ink

shrink plastic n mediums 003

Archival Ink

shrink plastic n mediums 004

Ancient Page Ink

shrink plastic n mediums 005

Brilliance Ink

shrink plastic n mediums 007

Color Box Chalk Ink

shrink plastic n mediums 010

Staz-On (forest green)

shrink plastic n mediums 009

Adirondack Acrylic Dabber Paint

shrink plastic n mediums 006

Adirondack Alcohol Inks

shrink plastic n mediums 011

Colored Pencils

shrink plastic n mediums 012

Glimmer Mist

shrink plastic n mediums 013

For the most part I can't tell a difference ~ I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference either way. So if you feel you need to work out a bit of frustration and want to scratch the heck out of something then sanding is the way to go...other wise I'd just go for it as is.

That being said there are two color mediums that show a notable difference ~ those are the Colored Pencils and Alcohol Inks for very different reasons....

The Colored Pencils skim across the top of a non sanded piece of shrinky dink. It leaves little specks of color here and there while the sanded side gives a nice smooth color transition. I much prefer to sand when using this type of color medium.

The Alcohol Inks on the other hand spread out and show each individual scratch on the sanded side. I like the spreading out but I'm not so keen on the scratches... Another issue I have with Alcohol Inks and Shrink Film is that once they shrink the colors become SOOOOO intense that it turns most colors black. For this reason I choose to add my alcohol inks AFTER I shrink the film, never before. You can control the color outcome far better after the fact than you can before it shrinks.

I hope this answers some of the questions about what you can and can't use on sanded and unsanded shrink film surfaces.

I will cover preparing shrink plastic for use with an ink jet printer.
Till then friends...TTFN!!


  1. Really useful blog, have been wondering about this very thing myself.
    Many Thanks

  2. I totally agree, Roni. I have never sanded and had great results. (I've never used CPs, but probably wouldn't so that's not a worry) And yup, yup - alcohol inks AFTER shrinking.

    I can't wait to see some projects. Are we gonna do charms?? (Ooooh... what a great seguey into charm bracelets, eh? Not to hint or be demanding, that just popped into my head. *smile*)

  3. *shakes head*

    Please excuse my typo. I meant to say SEGUE. LOL *blush*

  4. This is great. Wonderful job on these. Thank you for your hard work!

  5. very neat comparison! Do you know if the colored pencil is rub-proof once the stuff is shrunk?

  6. Thank for your attention to detail, the step by steps and thesamples are amazing. I have some to try. off to the laboratory (said in the true english manner so it has more emphasis! :)

  7. Great post with a great article. Medium size or color plastic cards are very popular in this society.
    Plastic card holder.

  8. Very useful, this is what I was looking for, thanks!.


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!