Monday, August 15, 2011

Challenge Charms

Here are the charms I made for the online Christmas in July swarm via the cricut circle.  I used the Christmas stocking from the Gingerbread cartridge.  I sized it 2.62" wide x 3.27" high, it just looked good.  I copied & grouped it to make rows, then filled in the digital mat.  On the messageboard it was specified to make charms 1" finished size, so using shrink plastic, it should start 3".  I found with my last experiments that its a different shrinkage ratio so I went a bit smaller, using the same brand plastic I used to make the Canadian circle charms.  I placed a 8.5x11" rectangle on one layer so I would have the grey ghost boundary. That is to show me where to place the stockings on the mat, and where to place the plastic sheet on the mat before cutting.

I have found my little 6X12 cricut cuts more thoroughly than the big expression does, but each machine works ever so slightly differently.  I used multi-cut 4, pressure 6, blade depth 6 with the deep cut blade & housing.  I struggled with each sheet & cut lots of extras anticipating problems as this is fairly fussy cutting for plastic.  Several pages I had to recut 2 more times before unloading.  Once I had them cut I ruined quite a few separating them from the waste.  I used my basic grey brand fine file tool set to burnish off the burr edges because it just wasn't a cooperative cutting session.  Any nail file type tool is useful to clean up the edges for nice results once melted.
I tried a shadow cut by mistake on the right, I didn't like the sizing so I didn't use that cut.  The middle shows the centre pieces not removed yet, the left one is ready for markers. The picture below shows how much darker they get & size difference once it is shrunk.  I used Permapaque metallic markers by Sakura.  The metallic doesn't really show up which disappointed me a bit.  These are meant for writing on slick surfaces and is known to be  a good product brand.  I'm just using what I have.
Here are all 26 finished, with two 6mm jump rings ready to go.  I slipped them into little jewelry bags I got from the dollar store with a slip of paper with my details.  They went into the mail  August 8, and the return swap will be sent August 20.  I will definitely post pictures of what comes back!
Here is another reason to make extra when using shrink plastic.  Sometimes under the heat gun it has a mind of its own, it twists, sticks to itself, & just won't comply.  I cut 5 sheets of 9, ruined a lot separating them, then these 2 brats resulted.  I went back & cut one more sheet from another package, and of course it cut perfectly, punched out of the plastic easily, & fully cooperated.  I have read that "older" packages of shrink plastic are more temperamental to use than "fresh" plastic.  There's an irony I would never have thought of!
Lessons learned in addition to my last shrink plastic experiments:
1.  Peek at the cut before unloading to check that it cut through.  Once it is unloaded it will never load & cut exactly where it left off, 1mm difference with the unload & reload screws up the cuts.
2.  A dry static duster is a marvelous thing to pull away the little plastic shavings produced from cutting.  After each page of cutting it is good to remove the blade housing, poke out the blade & clear away the shavings so they don't build up & interfere with cutting.
3.  Working outside is best for shrink plastic, but being close to a wind break is important to keep from losing any under the deck.  
4.  Don't rush the separating cuts from the waste plastic, fussy cuts split, tear, rip, and are SHARP and POINTY.
5. Keep the Gypsy plugged in to prevent glitchy hang-ups with even slightly low battery.
6.  Using parchment paper is great, sandwiching still hot shrink plastic between PP & putting a cool iron or book on top to get it flat works nicely.
7.  Sakura Permapaque markers are nice, but they dry a little bit slower than Sharpie markers.
8.  Colour with scrap paper underneath, save your table top.
9.  Colour in circles if filling in areas of colour, it shrinks up less visually irregularly.
10.  Trace around all the edges with the markers to make the colours more finished looking.
11.  Some markers need to be sealed to keep colour from bleeding if these are worn against the skin as a pendant.  I would try UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) or Modge-Podge. Clear nail polish would be okay, but it tends to get yellow & brittle with age.   I didn't seal these charms and am hoping for the best.


  1. I love your charms. Using the outline cut for this project was a great idea.

  2. Thanks! I don't recommend it as a first time shrink plastic project cut, expect (more) grey hair or self induced balding from frustration :o

  3. The charms are great! I learned quite a few lessons with the shrinky dinks! LOL! I loved the post, great tips!
    Colleen (gonescrappin')


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