Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Shrinky-dink dollies

As you may know I've been playing around a lot lately with shrinking plastic. I've already used old yoghurt containers to make jewellery parts and used shrinking plastic (bought at a crafts shop) to make wine glass tags to keep my guests from confusing their glasses at parties. It's becoming a bit of an obsession of mine to sit down in front of the oven and watch the magic take place!

My latest shrinking adventure combines another of my huge life's obsessions; paper dolls.  I've been an avid collector of them since before I can remember. Back in Canada I have thousands of uncut paper doll books in storage (as soon as I get a larger house over here I'll finally have them shipped) and a nice growing European collection as well.

the dolls drawn out in pencil
To avoid cutting up my precious books but to be able to share my love of them with Sera I have been photocopying some of the rarer versions and cutting them up to play with but when I got the shrinking bug I had a new idea - shrinky-dink paper dolls!

Doing some research I found out that I'm not the first person to have thought of this... Check out this post by another momma shrinking up some dolls for her daughter.

I drew out the dolls and clothes by tracing in pencil a paper doll we had just gotten as a gift (thanks mum!) and altering the design to look more like a grown up version of Sera. Then I let Sera colour the clothes any way she liked with Sharpies (permanent markers... Watch out for clothes and furniture!!). We did four outfits and shoes.  I carefully coloured in the doll asking Sera what colours she would like for the various elements and polished up her finished clothes with details like bows and polka dots where needed.
concentrating on making things pink

After cutting out all the pieces we shrunk them in the oven as usual... Low heat for three minutes or until flattened out. Then left them on the counter to cool. Unfortunately, the shoes came out way too tiny to use (pinky fingernail tiny) but the clothes were adorable, colourful and fun!

into the oven as usual
Instead of using velcro strips as in the tutorial mentioned above or another obvious choice, magnets, I decided to borrow an idea from my shrinky wine tags and use patafix/bluetack for attaching the clothes to the doll.  It worked out perfectly because it meant that the was nothing permanently marking the doll. The results were wonderful and Sera was very proud that she designed the clothes.

The only down side of the project was that the patafix is tiny and tempting for little mouths.... This is not a toy to leave with your child unsupervised if they're on the younger side of the scale. Both because of the patafix and the clothes, which are small enough to be dangerous if ingested!

I'd say that the perfect age to try this activity is around five or six years old. That way the child can do a little more work on the clothes and doll and you can make two or more dolls at a time.  Another alternative would be to not have the dolls dress up at all and instead to create characters for a play scene that you put together with your child. Maybe the technique could even be used for homework projects and dioramas!?
teeny tiny shrunken dollies!

I'm sure we'll find another project for shrinking plastic quite soon!