Melted Bottle Jewelery

My kids have been nagging me to get some shrinky-dinks for ages. But that stuff is not easy to find here, and it’s not cheap either! I’d seen a tutorial on pinterst (of course) for using recycled plastic packaging in the same way, but we never seemed to buy anything packed in plastic that had the right number on it. But I had a vague memory of my Mum melting PET soft drink bottles when I was a kid, and in the interest of experimenting, and celebrating the last day of the school holidays, we decided to have a go.

melted bottle necklaces

Melted Bottle Jewelery

You’ll Need…
Plastic PET bottles or any kind of PET plastic.
Scissors
Permanent markers
Hole punch
Oven tray covered in foil
A moderately hot oven
String

You’ll Do…
Cut up the plastic bottles into medium sized pieces of various shapes. This can be a little tricky so you might want to pre-cut the bottles and using a craft knife to make the first cut is also helpful, unless you slice open your finger with it (ask me how I know!). Careful of sharp corners on your cut up plastic too, you might want to round them off a little.

Then go to town drawing and colouring on the bits of plastic. We found drawing on the inside of the bottles and filling the pieces with LOTS of colour worked better.

melted bottle art

Once you are done colouring, punch holes all around the edge of your piece of plastic. The more holes you punch the more likely you are of getting one in a decent spot to make your necklace later on.

plastic bottles read to melt

Then pop your plastic pieces on the foil covered tray, making sure there is a little room between each one, and put them in the oven.

melting plastic in the oven

It won’t take long for the pieces of plastic to start to curl up and shrink a little. Once they have melted to your satisfaction (it only takes a minute or two, any longer and they will begin to smoke and burn) take them out of the oven and allow them to cool. Put on your exhaust fan or pop them outside if you like as there will be a slight plasticey smell as they cool

melted bottle bits

It was really interesting to see how the differently thickness and shapes of the plastic melted and shrank differently. The bottoms of the bottles just shrunk down a little, and the thicker parts at the neck of the bottle didn’t curl as much as the thinner sides.

We each selected a favourite piece that had a hole in an appropriate spot and threaded it on some string for a necklace.

melted bottle necklace

The necklaces soon became ‘rainbow viewer’ necklaces and ‘magic whistle’ necklaces. Morgan didn’t take his off until this morning when he put on his school uniform for the first time. He carefully put his magic whistle around my neck and said ‘keep it safe till I get home’…. so now even I have a melted bottle necklace and it is the most precious piece of jewelery I own.

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Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:

  1. says

    Kate this is a stunning craft activity! So artistic, so much fun and you’re recycling too. I’m sooo going to do this idea. Pinning now!

    How did Morgan go?

    • katef says

      Perhaps you are thinking about something different? PET bottles here in Australia have a number 1 on them and are used for lots of things.

      Also PET bottles are very recyclable ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PET_bottle_recycling) and they are also considered safe to hold and store both drinks and food.

      I am sure that breathing in the fumes of any melted plastic is not healthy, but we did this under a exhaust fan and allowed the melted plastic to cool completely (and therefore stop giving off fumes) before we used it.

  2. Sandy in SoCal says

    Great idea! And I love your picture of the children all watching the oven with great anticipation and curiosity!! I will have to try this!

  3. says

    These are so bright and colourful Kate…you brought back some memories for me with this post! love the whistle necklace idea too! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. says

    Love your twist on these! I had such fun making shrinky dinks as a kid – all those chip packets in miniature were so cute :-) Will have to keep my eye on the plastic in the house!

  5. Jennifer says

    Hi, Just wanted to let you know I loved this idea SO much that I am doing it with all three of my kids classrooms for Valentine’s Day next week. About 80 kids! It saved me a ton of money on crafts that would not have been original and this gives them all a chance to create their own special item. Now to find enough plastic LOL
    Thank you!

    • katef says

      We only used clear PET plastic bottles (it has a 1 in the recycling triangle here in Australia). We used a moderately hot oven about 180-200 degrees C, and it only took a minute or two for the think bits of plastic to curl and shrink… a little longer for the thicker parts of the bottles. Hope that helps!

  6. Leanne says

    Kate you are a legend for thinking this one up! As a kid in primary school I had a pair of twistie packs I used to hang on my sleepers. Now I have a very creative 3yr old, we are going to do this for everyones christmas presents! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  7. says

    These are SO clever! I had them pinned and just ran across them — found that they were you — who hop! Welcome to Rockin Art Moms. I can’t wait to see what else you have here! Love it!

  8. says

    I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your project! You can see it here:

    http://funfamilycrafts.com/melted-bottle-jewelry/

    If you have other kid-friendly crafts, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a cool project idea!

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