A friend recently told me that she thought the greatest gift you can give a child is to let them know what boredom is and teach them the skills to turn that boredom into creative activities. That idea really stuck with me. In my home our philosophy is that creative people never get bored, because when you are creative you can always find something to fill your time. I think those two ideas go hand in hand.

I’m trying to get back to the way things were when I was a kid– when you came home from school and “hung out” and did your homework until dinner time, when you didn’t have an extracurricular activity every day after school. I’m trying to schedule less and seek more balance in our lives.

Doing this has allowed my children the chance to feel bored, and then find their own activities to fight that boredom. It’s also made me think back to my childhood and remember the things I really loved doing to entertain myself.

A couple of months ago I shared a project with you on how to make crayon etchings. Today I’m climbing in my imaginary time machine, heading back to the 80’s, and talking about Shrinky Dinks!

Do you remember Shrinky Dinks? They were one of my favourite crafts as a kid! I had a Rainbow Bright Shrinky Dink set when I was 8 years old. I remember colouring in Rainbow Brite characters with pencil crayons, setting them on a cookie tray, and then sitting in front of the oven watching my colouring projects shrink down into itty bitty pieces of shiny plastic.

Well friends, Shrinky Dinks are back and they are better than ever! There are tons of themed Shrinky Dink sets available, but today I decided to concentrate on creating our own designs. I love projects that will keep kids entertained long after the craft is done, and this one definitely checks off that box. Today we are going to make a family doll play set using funny photos of each member of our family.

Let’s get started!

DIY Family Photo Shrinky Dink Dolls

Materials:

  • Jpgs of funny family photos
  • Inkjet Shrinky Dinks
  • Ink Jet Printer
  • Scissors
  • Baking Sheet
  • Aluminum Foil or Parchment Paper
  • Toaster Oven or Oven

Directions:

Step 1: Take photos of each member of your family. I decided to take a photo of each of our heads and then stick the heads on stick figure bodies. Alternatively you can use a full body shot and eliminate the stick figure bodies.

Step 2: Use a program like Background Burner to remove the background from each of the photos leaving just the photo of the person behind.

Step 3 (Optional): Use a program like Canva to put each of the heads onto a stick figure body. I typed ‘stick figure’ into image search, covered the heads with a white circle or rectangle, uploaded the photos of our heads and then dragged them on top of the bodies.

Step 4: Open the image on your computer, load your printer with Ink Jet Shrinky Dink Paper and print. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the paper you are using. My instructions had you choose matte photo paper for the paper and lighten your image by 50%. These can both be done under print settings. They are going to look really light, but don’t worry, they will darken up when you bake them!

Step 5: Cut out your images. I tried one set leaving a ½ inch border around the design and the other set cutting directly around each image. I prefered the finished result of the dolls that had no border.

Step 6: Bake per the instructions with your Shrinky Dinks. Mine suggested baking on an aluminum foil lined baking dish in the toaster oven at 375F for 4-5 minutes. I found that my dolls were a bit wavy when I removed them from the oven so as soon as I took them out, while they were still hot and pliable, I pressed them under a cutting board to flatten them.

Step 7: Let your kids play! We took some chalkboard paper and created a backdrop for our dolls. Every time my kids want a new location they are able to roll out more chalkboard paper and create a new environment for their dolls to play!

I hope that you and your family get as much enjoyment out of this project as mine did and that the shrinky dink family dolls bring hours of boredom busting entertainment!

If you like this project, make sure to check out my tutorial for making DIY sidewalk chalk paint!


If you like this project visit Crystal and her creative family at Hello Creative Family, where the goal is to inspire parents with simple, back-to-the-basics crafts and recipes so that all families can raise their kids in a handmade, homemade, heart-made home! The daughter of two creative parents, Crystal strongly believes that kids who see their parents pursuing their own creative passions are more likely to be creative themselves!