Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shrinky Dinks and Shrinky Don'ts

Recently, when a friend was visiting, I started talking about Shrinky Dinks because--well, does a person really need an excuse to talk about one of the greatest arts and crafts materials ever? When she looked at me questioningly, I actually felt my heart sink. She may as well have said she had never tasted ice cream or never seen snow fall. Immediately, I got out the Shrinky Dinks (which, copyrights be damned, are actually not official Shrinky Dinks, but are the Rose Art knock-off version--good enough for me) and put our kids to work Shrinky Dinking.

The conversation actually came about because I had been showing off this year's Christmas tree ornaments.

Using a fine-tipped Sharpie, I had traced the shapes from a line-art book I have of Christmas ornaments. I cut out the center circle to make picture frames and then shrunk them in the oven. Perhaps because these were not official Shrinky Dink shapes, they came out slightly wonky. I actually had to use the spatula to flatten them after they got stuck mid-curl in the shrinking process. But save them I did, and after they cooled I hot glued photos on the back and gleefully added them to my tree.

Meanwhile, Fifi and her friend meticulously colored their full-size ornaments while Vance scribbled a few lines on his. They all huddled around the oven window, anxiously awaiting the shrinking and hardening of their precious renderings.

And then tragedy struck. "Get away from the oven!" I shouted, spatula in hand. "I'll save them!" 

Years of parenting, decades of crafting, a handful of Shrinky Dink experiences don't quite prepare a person for that desperate moment of realizing she is powerless.

I haven't yet found the courage to throw away these hardened relics, these artifacts that once held such promise, such artistic vision, such unencumbered possibility. Amazingly, my kids got over it within seconds. They have never referenced the Shrinky Dinks since. It could be they don't care as much as I do. But I think it has more to do with their inability to come to terms with their grief.

Farewell potential Shrinky Dinks. You died before we even had a chance to know you. May you rest in peace.


  1. Hi, I just read your post on Babble. It's funny, I was just thinking of Shrinky Dinks just yesterday. Hadn't thought of them for years.

  2. This is really funny--very well-written. I loved Shrinky Dinks!