Shrinky Dink Wine Charms from Discarded Plastic

Do you remember the excitement of watching shrinky dinks shrivel up and shrink as a kid?  Do you want a unique personalized way to identify your wine glass or beer bottle at your next party?

martini glass with a bunch of personalized wine charms

Recycled #6 Plastic Made into Shrinky Dink Personalize Wine Charms

If you were a kid in the 80’s like me, you probably remember the joy of coloring on and baking shrinky dinks. I loved watching the sheet of thin plastic curl up and flatten out into a hard plastic trinket.  I was reminded about shrinky dinks when my friend Stephanie brought handmade personal wine charms to our week long vacation with 70 of our closest friends this year.

She had pre-made and baked each of the charms with our names.  When we got there, she had memory wire, small beads and pliers ready to finish the wine charms.  By accident we discovered that if you use a larger loop of wire, you can put it over the top of a beer bottle.

For Super Bowl XLVII, I decided to make some of my own football themed wine & beer charms for my Green Super Bowl Party. I found helpful instructions from DotatDabbled on Instructables. Here are the basic steps:

Bruschi for my Brewski Beer Charm

Beer Charm

  1. Collect supplies
  2. Print out templates (for more complicated shapes)
  3. Cut out shapes
  4. Color Designs
  5. Punch Holes
  6. Bake
  7. Mount

1. Collect Supplies

  • #6 plastic
  • memory wire
  • small beads
  • parchment paper
  • scissors or craft knife
  • hole punch
  • markers or colored pencils (with sandpaper)
  • shape templates
  • toaster or oven

chasing arrows with the #6 and letters PS

No. 6 Plastic – Polystyrene

You are going to need some clear #6 polystyrene (PS) plastic.  You can often find #6 plastics on take out food containers.  If you do not buy lunch in such containers, you can raid the lunch room trash or recycling at the office, but be sure to wash it out before you bring it home.  You can get the memory wire and beads are your local craft store or online.  I recommend beads that are in your teams’ colors.

Gather the rest of your supplies together.

cut out #6 plastic and Patriots Flying Elvis outline

See what you can find with google images

2. Print out Templates

If you are going to be trying a more complicated shape, you will probably want a template to trace around.  I found searching on Google Images made this easy to pick my favorite team’s logo.  The search terms I recommend are “teamname logo outline.” You’ll need something that is about 4 times larger than the end size of the end product.  Before doing a bunch, test out a few sizes.  The shape of the containers affect how much they shrink.  Also, pieces cut from sections closer to the edge may not shrink uniformly.

3. Cut out shapes

Using a crafting knife or scissors, carefully cut out your shapes.  I use a cutting mat, but you could use a piece of cardboard or other surface to protect your workspace from scratches.  I recommend against tracing a border unless you want a border on the final piece or will cut off the border.

Be sure to round any corners because once they shrink, the corners become much sharper.

4. Color Your Charms

beer charms colored in Patriots colors with my favorite playersI used Sharpies & Paint Sharpies of various colors to decorate my charms.  You can also use sandpaper (220+ grit) to rough up the surface and use colored pencils.  Using sandpaper and  colored pencils results in a matte finish whereas the sharpies provide a glossy finish.  I have found using layered numbers, like those that appear on a jersey, provides a nice look.

Remember, you want each charm to be unique so people can distinguish their drink.

5. Punch a Hole

Unless you have a miniature drill press, you will want to punch a hole before baking.  I’ve used both a basic paper punch as well as a leather punch with much success.  Remember, the hole is going to be much smaller after it shrinks.

6. Bake Your Shrinky Dink Charms

Toaster oven dial set at 250°F

Set your oven to 250°F

Preheat your oven to 250°F and place your shrinky dinks on a sheet of parchment paper in a baking sheet.  Place them in the oven and let the magic transport you back to the 80’s. The process will take about 10 minutes or so to complete, during which they will curl up and then flatten back out.  Check out my video of baking my football shrinky dink charms.

Carefully remove the sheet from the oven when done.  If any of the items are not completely flat, you can carefully flatten them out while they are still very hot with a wooden chopstick or popsicle stick. Please be careful!

7. Mount Your Charms

Flying Elvis with #12 wine charm on bottom of a wine glas

Enjoy responsibly

Cut a small piece of memory wire sized for the stem of a wine glass (size of a quarter) or top of a beer bottle (about the size of a half dollar).  Crimp over one end of the wire, slip on several beads and then the charm.  Add some more beads and crimp over the other end.  You can carefully bend the wire to be closed at the end when released.

Drink and enjoy responsibly.

Happy Greening!

What style of charm are you going to make?

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  1. What a great idea! Now I am headed to our recycle bin to look for some #6 plastic:) We are big college sports fans so UNH charms here we come!

  2. How do you know if the leftover plastic is #6?

  3. Nicely done! We had DIY wine charms for a party and it was a huge hit. Our guests even helped make them.

  4. What a GREAT post! And I know this is for charms, but these would make GREAT xmas ornament projects for kids.

    • Krystyna, you’ve just given me a great idea for Christmas presents for the grandparents and possibly a fundraiser idea for church. The kids make environmentally and/or religiously themed ornaments and sell them for a couple bucks each at the craft fair next year. Thanks!

      p.s. They also make great earrings. I made my 8 yo daughter Tom Brady #12 earrings while I was at it.

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