These buttons started out their young, plastic lives as a deli container full of gooey cinnamon buns. Shrinky Dinks brand plastic sheets are made of exactly the same stuff as #6 plastic food containers– a perfectly sound excuse to raid the grocery store bakery section!

Scrutinize the stamped label on the bottom of the container. Many plastics are now the #1 recyclable variety, and only #6 can be shrunk. The plastic shrinks to approximately 30% of its original size, and it can be used to make tags, wine charms, key rings, or jewelry. I made my own buttons– thrilled that I could create something functional out of something that would otherwise be in the landfill.

To state the obvious: this project involves melting plastic. If that freaks you out, don’t do it. I personally noticed no fumes, and Shrinky Dinks are marketed to kids, for pete’s sake; however, if putting plastic in the oven sounds like a bad idea to you, maybe try making a headband or re-furbishing a lampshade instead.

What You Need:

#6 plastic food container

permanent markers

scissors

hole punch

foil-lined cookie sheet

oven

What To Do:

1. Wash and dry the #6 food container. Cut the flat top and bottom of the container away from the wavy edges. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. For a circular button, draw a circle on a piece of paper to make a template. My circle is 2″ in diameter, and my finished, shrunk buttons are about 2/3″ wide. Trace the circle shape onto a piece of the #6 plastic with a permanent marker. Color in a design. I drew loopy scribbles that I hoped would look vaguely like camellia petals once they shrunk. The color really concentrates when the plastic shrinks, so keep in mind that what seems very sheer at this point will be much brighter in the finished product.

3. Cut out the button. I made my edges a little wavy– again for a floral look.

4. Punch two or four holes, equal distances from the center of the button. You can either wing it, or mark the hole locations with a pencil before punching.

5. Place the plastic on the foil-lined cookie sheet and put in the pre-heated oven. Bake for three minutes. The plastic will curl as it shrinks and then re-flatten. Remove from the oven. If the plastic is still wavy, use an oven glove to press it down flat.

6. Ta-da! You just made your own button! Allow to cool and stitch it on!

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