*Younger kids should enlist the help of an adult
This is a simple and fun way to add on temporary wings to a model for play. Shrinky Dinks were all the rage in the 80s and 90s, and I was excited to find that they were still around. Making Shrinky Dinks is a fun activity for kids and adults alike, and you’re only limited by your imagination. (It’s also a great project for a day when you’re stuck indoors.)
One thing I appreciate as a parent is that these things hold up – while they may fall off during rougher play, they’re pretty hard to break due to the fact that they’re a thick, durable plastic.
Shrinky Dinks come in different styles, including Crystal Clear and frosted (for frosted, I’ve used the “Shrink Fun Refill Set” by Faber-Castell). Either will work, but I’ll be referring to the Crystal Clear sheets for this tutorial. If you’re using a different kind, be sure to refer to the directions for the baking temperature, time, and which side of the sheets to decorate.
To get started, you need to decide what scale model you’re making the wings for. The wings I created in this tutorial make adorable baby wings for a Traditional-scale foal, and also double as full-sized wings on a Stablemates model. The package states that these Shrinky Dinks will shrink to be about 1/3 of their original size and become 9x thicker when you bake them. My reference wings measured 5.75” at the longest, and after baking they measured 2.25”, so the 1/3 rule wasn’t exact, but it’ll give you a good idea.
Once you’ve chosen you scale, you can decide what style you’d like your wings to be. From reptilian-style dragon wings, to butterfly or bird wings, there are many looks to choose from! I chose to go with a feathered, bird-style wing. I also wanted the wing to have more of a tucked vs. extended appearance.
When you have your reference material (in my case, it was clip art) and know what size you’d like your wings to be, it’s time to decorate! The Crystal Clear package said you can use alcohol-based permanent markers, acrylic paints, and painters paint markers, but NO water colors, water color markers, or crayons. I used different sizes of Sharpie permanent markers.
Note: I did a trial run using glossy acrylic paint (which looked great when used on the frosted Faber-Castell Shrinky Dinks) but it looked terrible on the Crystal Clear. When in doubt, do a test run!
|A clipboard is useful for tracing.
I used a clipboard to keep my Shrinky Dinks paper over my reference art as I traced the rough shapes of the wings, but you can also tape it in place or just draw freehand. Since these were clear wings, I elected to use several different colors of permanent markers to decorate them. I wanted to keep the translucent look, so I didn’t color them completely in. Parents – you can also trace/draw the outline of the wings, and then give your children free reign to decorate them as they like!
I prefer to use permanent markers, as you don’t have to wait long for them to dry, and bake up bright while keeping the translucent look. I’ve used Crayola Washable Markers as well, but the colors in the finished product show up much lighter than permanent markers, and the ink tends to smudge with handling while cutting.
Once your wings are drawn and dry, use a pair of sharp scissors to cut out your wings. Try to cut as smoothly as you can – the Shrinky Dinks material (especially the frosted kind which is thicker to begin with) is prone to splintering as you cut.
|These decorated wings have been trimmed out and are ready for baking.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Find a baking sheet bigger than your wings, and line it with aluminum foil. Place your wings colored-side up on the foil-lined sheet, and pop it in the oven – but don’t go anywhere!
Your total baking time will be only 1-3 minutes (and watching them shrink is the fun part!). They will curl up as they shrink – don’t panic! This is normal. When they flatten out again, keep them in the oven for another 30 seconds before removing them.
After baking, wings are approximately 1/3
|For scale: the final baked wings and
the art used for tracing.
If they’re not completely flat when you remove them from the oven, you can gently flatten them with a spatula. Allow to fully cool before handling.
Once cooled, it’s time to play! Grab your models and some sticky wax, and have yourself an adventure! A pea-sized amount of wax was enough to hold these wings on.
Sweet Pea looks precious with her new tucked wings. The stick wax also blends in nicely to her coat.
|These wings are just the right size
for a Traditional foal.
|Look at the edge of the wing here to
see how thick they became.
These wings also look great as full-size wings on Stablemates models! This roan Mustang’s playful pose makes it appear that he’s getting ready to take off or land. He’s also right at home in our fairy garden.
| The translucent wings are looking
magical on a Stablemate.
|This Stablemate looks right at home
in the fairy garden!