Well, I guess it was inevitable. This week's attempt was a total failure. :-(
I've played with inkjet shrink plastic before, so I had no reason to think that this project would be problematic. I made a bunch of key rings using some travel photos and they came out looking great. This time, however.....
I had some fab Alexander Henry fabric in the stash, with cool graphic images, so I decided to scan them, then print them to the plastic and cut circles to link into a bracelet once they were shrunk. Here's the fabric:
So cute, right? So after some fiddling with new drivers (I haven't scanned anything in ages!) I printed a couple of versions with varying color levels - the color intensifies as the plastic shrinks, so you have to print it at a lighter setting.
Then I cut circles - about twice the diameter of the desired finished size - and punched holes in each side:
Then into the kitchen and the toaster oven. For the life of me, I could not keep these things from curling and sticking and generally misbehaving. Just ugly. I tried everything, and I hovered over the oven with a wooden spoon to try to keep things contained but it was really ugly. I cut the yellow/orange circles larger, thinking that the smaller circles may have been the problem, but they weren't much better. The plastic also doesn't shrink evenly, so the finished item isn't a perfect circle no matter how hard you try to cut a perfect circle in the first place.
Here's the ugly aftermath:
I salvaged a couple of the larger ones and threaded them with some gold ribbon -
- but that didn't help much. Oh well.
When I used this shrink plastic before, my shapes were irregular - flowers, architecture details, etc. I think this may have helped with the curling issue. I was able to get a really nice, flat finish on a few pieces by immediately pressing them with a tailor's clapper and letting them harden and cool under it - the clapper is solid wood so it gave a bit of weight and a smooth surface.
Still not sure what happened, maybe I'll give it a try again in the future. I may try to get hold of a heat gun, it seems like it would be easier to control the shrinking process that just sticking them in the oven.