Sunday, April 24, 2011

How To Make Your Own Low-Cost Geocoins - Part 2 [Shrinky Dinks]

Last month I shared on How To Make Your Own Low-Cost Geocoins [wooden nickels] out of wooden nickels and a custom stamp.

This time we're making geocoins with Shrinky Dinks! You might remember creating things with Shrinky Dink plastic as a kid and watching them in the oven/toaster oven as they get smaller and smaller. I believe I got this idea from a geocoin forum somewhere. The good thing with this method is that you have a wider range of options to be creative in creating your geocoins, such as shape, colors, size, etc. There are so many possibilities.

So lets get to it. I found several types of Shrinky Dinks sheets sold at local craft stores like Michael's and Jo-Ann's. At first I wasn't sure which type I should use so I opted for the Frosted Ruff N' Ready (Item D100-10A) because this plastic has been roughened to accept any colored pencil, and the Bright White for Ink Jet Printers (Item D600-6A). Frosted Ruff N' Ready runs about $5.99 for 10-8"x10" sheets, and the kind for Ink Jet Printers is about $13 for 6-8"x10" sheets. You may also need to experiment to get to the final result you want for your geocoins.
Watch out for sales at theses craft stores. They also offer discounts on their websites, weekly ads, etc. At Michael's I got a coupon at checkout for a 40% Off Any One Reg Price Item on my next purchase. On Jo-Ann's website you can get mobile phone apps to get coupons and other info sent directly to your phone.

1. Before you begin you need to think about your design and what size you want your end product to look like. Shrinky Dinks plastic shrinks down to 1/3 of it's original size after baking. So if I want my geocoin to be close to the standard geocoin size, which is 1.5" wide in diameter, then my design on the Shrinky Dinks sheet before baking needs to be about 4.5" diameter (1.5" x 3 = 4.5"). I tried creating a basic design that would print out to the 4.5" wide diameter onto the Shrinky Dinks plastic to cut down on time. After this initial trial run I will probably come up with a design to streamline the process even more, so I won't have to do anything after printing/cutting except maybe adding a little more color or detail if the printer doesn't get it all. See example below:
After much frustration with our Epson printer refusing to accept the Shrinky Dinks sheets, we fished out our old HP printer from the garage and got it printing onto the sheets. Yeah!!

2. In this case I did add some color and detail with stamps after printing my basic design onto the Shrinky Dinks sheet. With the Bright White for Ink Jet sheets you can't use pencils, but stamping worked out pretty good for me and you can also use permanent ink pens. I was also able to use the printer on the Frosted Ruff N' Ready which allows light to pass through and the printed areas show up more faded then the bright white sheets. Here's an example on how the two types look side-by-side so you can see the difference:
[left Frosted Ruff N' Ready, right Bright White for Ink Jet Printers] sorry photo quality is so crappy =)

3. Read and follow Shrinky Dinks instructions, tips and info from the package and/or on their web site. Remember, instructions vary for the different types of Shrinky Dink plastic sheets.

4. After it's all done baking and cooled, your geocoin is basically ready for it's geocaching adventure to begin! It will be about 1/16" thick, hard plastic, and the colors get more vivid after baking. If you're using the Bright White for Ink Jet Printers, the instructions say to spray with sealer. If you're making your geocoins into the typical circle shape, keep in mind they will come out of the oven slightly different every time. You will probably notice the perfect circle you originally cut out before baking became slightly distorted in the shrinking process. But that's okay right? It just means every coin you make will be special and unique just like you!

Have fun creating your custom Shrinky Dink geocoins and more!! We'd love to hear about your homemade geocoin and swag ideas for geocaching.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I make Shrinky-Dink proxies as replacements for coins in my permanent collection so that the numbers can be in play, but also to replace those coins which have gone missing during their adventures, to get them back in the game. Yours are much more artistically done than mine, however.