Monday, July 12, 2010

Crafty Dog Tag tutorial from MonkeyDogStudio!

This Friday, the Richmond Craft Mafia presents Handmade Throwdown: Art vs Craft, a gallery exhibit and sale at the Crossroads Art Center, 2016 Staples Mill Road. Since a portion of our proceeds goes to benefit the Richmond SPCA, I thought this would be a great time to show off a pet-related craft that can be done with the whole family: shrink plastic pet tags!

This is what you'll need:
Shrink plastic
Sharpies or other alcohol-based pens for drawing
Scissors or a punch
Standard hole puncher
Toaster oven (or conventional oven)
Aluminum foil
Something heavy and flat
Spray sealant or clear nail polish
Split ring

There are a many types of shrink plastic available, so you'll have to make sure you follow the instructions when creating your design. Some types of shrink plastic can be run through your inkjet printer, while others can only be decorated with alcohol-based inks and markers.
Whatever kind of shrink paper you decide to use, you need to keep a few things in mind. First: when you create your design on the plastic, you need to make it a little more than DOUBLE the size of what you want your image to be (shrinking varies by paper, so check you packaging instructions for shrink rates).

The SECOND thing to keep in mind is that the image will darken when it shrinks, so if you’re printing out your design, you’ll want to print your image at about 50% transparency.

For the dog tag design, you can be practical: make a tag with your pet’s name & your contact information – cellphone number, city and state if not your street address. You can also include important info like if your pet needs daily medicine.
Another option for these tags is to just be totally fun: make some seasonal tags – like a heart for Valentine’s Day, and some with cute sayings that show off your pet’s personality. You can draw freehand or if you want something fancier, you can find some templates online.

After you've created your design, cut it out. You can use scissors, but I like to use a jumbo hole punch that’s 2.5”. Then you’ll need to punch a hole to put your split ring through. I use a standard hole punch for this, but I’ll punch about 3 holes next to each other to make more of a tablet shape for the ring to go through. Make sure you don’t put the hole too close to the edge of the plastic because you don’t want it to break off the split ring when it’s finished.
Ok, now that you’ve made your design, and your tag cut out, this is where the adults step in. The next step is to shrink the tag in the toaster oven (or conventional oven, though it will take longer to heat up). Preheat your toaster oven according to the instructions on the packaging. (The printable plastic bakes at 275-300°F for 3-5 minutes, while the writable kind bakes at 325°F for 1-3 minutes.)

Most instructions recommend putting your tag on a piece of brown paper bag inside the toaster oven, but I find that the shrink plastic sometimes sticks to the paper, so I use a piece of aluminum foil instead. Put the aluminum foil on the broiler tray, and fold a corner of the foil up to help with removing it from the toaster oven.
Shrinking times and temperatures will vary depending on the size of the tag you're making, and the kind of shrink paper you’re using, so you'll need to follow the instructions and keep an eye on it in the oven. It will bend and curl as it shrinks, but generally flattens up by the time it's reached its final size.

The tag will be hot when you take it out. Put something sturdy and flat - like a book on top of another piece of foil - on the tag until it cools. After it's cool, you can sand the edges of the tag with an emery board if there are any rough spots.

You’ll also want to make sure your image is protected, so I spray it with a clear coat of acrylic spray. Some folks use clear nail polish.
After the sealant has dried, you can put a split ring through the hole that you punched. Then you're ready to hook it to your pet's collar!
Big thanks to the lovely folks at Virginia This Morning on WTVR 6 who invited me on to share this craft with the Richmond community! 

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