Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Amazing Shrinking Cup

I am working on some new upcycling projects and wanted to make my own buttons. I have read in several places that #6 plastics (recyclable plastics with a 6 in the middle of the arrows) work just like those shrink plastic sheets you can purchase at the store. Many take out containers are made from #6 plastics, as are some plastic cups and plates. I reclaimed some cups from my Mom's stash and started experimenting.

Being the non-scientific person that I am, it didn't occur to me take pictures of my first attempts. I figured I would cut out some shapes, punch the holes, heat and shrink and be set to go. But noooo! My shapes kept getting seriously distorted. Circles were turning out as really skinny ovals.

My son asked what would happen if we shrunk a whole cup, so we tried it out. Turns out that a cup will shrink into a disc just a smidge larger than the opening of the cup. Interesting!

So I grabbed my camera and did a little experiment:


























A 5" tall plastic cup (#6 recyclable plastic)



























Cut into about 1.25" tall rings




























Arranged on parchment paper on a baking sheet (you can use brown paper sack as well)




























Oven set at 325 degrees. I wish I could photo the shrinking process, but I didn't want to melt my camera and my oven doesn't have a clear view door.



























Rings after shrinking. This is exactly how they shrank down. Should your circles be distored, the plastic is very malleable while warm, so you can fine tune the shaping if you desire.




























The rings are about 1/16" thick and stiff.




























So, what do you think? What do you see this technique being used for? Upcycled jewelry? Christmas decorations? Picture frames? What else?

15 comments:

RedMarionette said...

That would be some interesting christmas decorations! A mod wreath! Oooo the possibilities!

And very educational!

SEWphisticate said...

you can layer fuse it too, just like Shrinky Dinks. once you shrink the shapes, layer them then bake on a glass surface at 450 for about 15 to 20 minutes. the edges will be smooth and rounded. it stinks horribly, which is why i don't the fusing thing, but it does work the same way as SD plastic.

AileenFairycat's Costume Closet said...

Ok I don't know what I want to make out of those but I so wish I had a plastic cup to melt right now!!!

capitolagirl said...

That's neat. I love to melt things. I could see it used to make ornaments fixed onto garland ;-)

almondtree said...

interest :) how about cutting off the top and bottom, then slit one side and open it up into a fan shape then shrink it?

Tracy said...

Excellent, I wonder if you can use white cups and colour them? Being a jewellery artist I can only think of the cool earrings that I could make with them!

Linda Smith said...

Well how cool is that!! Of course I am envisioning a very cool modern mosaic in red and white, lol. (I'm known on etsy as MosaicSmith :)

Fishstikks said...

I was playing around with shrinking some plastic for awhile there but never thought to cut the cup up like that, those rings are sooo cool. Thanks so much for sharing that!

giggling goldfish said...

Oooohhhh...the possibilities are endless. Thank you for sharing!

Elizabeth said...

Since these cups come in various colors, and the colors change for the various holidays, you can just grab a pack (or 4) as you grocery shop. They come in 2 or 3 sizes, too, so that makes it even more interesting.

I'd love to have big hoop earrings out of this! You could paint them, too, of course.

whatsonox said...

I like the rings. I'm not sure what I'd do with them though.

for Tracey

You can definitely colour them. See Dabbled beautiful earrings and read her very good description of how she did it.

I never seem to find type 6 plastic here in Europe. Do I just not buy the right sort of things or does Europe have a different numbering system (I was in the UK and now I'm in France)? Does anyone know or will I have to try and find out on Wikipedia - I'm really not sure that my science is up to understanding the article though I'm sure there must be one? Ever since I read the Dabbled tutorial I've been hoping to find some junk to shrink but so far I've not noticed any of our rubbish having the right label.

MODNAROS said...

You have a lot of great tutorials on here! Great blog ;)

XUE said...

A mobile !

leviathon002 said...

This may be one of the neatest ideas I have seen! I am going to do this and make mobiles!

L said...

I did this today! I used 4 different colored cups and after the first melting I layered them in a simple pattern (the loops were overlapping) and melted them again. Now I have a big piece of melted plastic that's really cute!