This Christmas charm bracelet is such a fun thing to make with shrink film plastic – there are so many names for it, but you might know it as Shrinky Dinks, Shrinkles or Shrinkies.
It’s a fun project for the holidays in general – however, if you’re making an advent calendar what’s great is there are charms for every one of the 24 days! (Have a look at our advent calendar instructions and file if you want to make one perfect for this!)
And…though this version works great made up as a gift – printed, cut and varnished in its completed form – we also have a ‘written’ version that means you can make the charms in ‘kit’ form. Ifyou just write and cut the pieces then it’s a great present for kids (though really why should they have all the fun?!) who can colour the pieces in, put them in the oven and see them magically shrink to make super-cute ‘charms’!
To make a Christmas Charm Bracelet you will need:
- Grafix inkjet shrink plastic (I don’t always specify brands but in this case – I really, really recommend you get this particular type – it needs to be inkjet-friendly or it won’t work, and this brand has given me the best results by far)
- Silver-plated chain with matching lobster clasp and 26 jump rings
- Shimmer Mod Podge
- Epoxy resin (UV-activated; the type used for jewellery-making or nails!)
- Masking tape (also known as painter’s tape)
- Our Christmas charms files
- 36W UV Lamp (these can be bought very cheaply and are typically used for curing nail varnish or polish!)
- Colour inkjet printer that can handle slightly-thicker-than-normal paper (I’ve got six printers, and the cheapest of the lot – the Epson XP-235 – handles this the best!)
- Cutting machine with deep cut blade, clean sticky mat (preferably strong grip) – I used the Cricut Maker.
- Glue spreader
- Jewellery pliers
- Wonderclips (optional)
Preparing the Cut Files for your Christmas Charm Bracelet:
- Open a New Project and click on ‘Import Images’.
- Choose the file you’ve downloaded – in this case it’s ‘printedchristmascharms.svg’ (or whatever format your machine uses!) It’s a large file, so you’re likely to see the following message flash up for about half a second. Don’t panic though – Design Space just needs a bit of time.
- The pieces will now appear on the canvas – but they’ll all be attached to one another. To sort this out, select all of the pieces on the canvas (by clicking on any of them) and then click on on ‘Ungroup’. As you can see,they are arranged in two distinct groups – this is purely so that you can make the most out of your shrink plastic sheet (feel free to move them around if that works better for your sheet!)
- Once this is done, you need to click on each individual image (once you click on an image, a border will appear around it) and then right-click. A drop-down menu will appear, and you need to select ‘Flatten’ from it. (Alternatively, you can see where it appears in the right-hand margin, and select ‘Flatten’ from the bottom). At this point, the black lines will disappear from round the image and, where this piece appears in the right-hand margin, you’ll see that the ‘Cut’ (i.e. Scissors) icon has been replaced by the ‘Print and Cut’ (Printer) icon.
- Go through the images one by one and repeat the process.
- Once they are all done, then click and drag over the first group of pieces. A border will appear around them. Right click and you’ll see the dropdown menu again. Select ‘Attach.’ Repeat this process for the second group (it’ll look like the image below).
Now you’re ready to start printing and cutting! Click ‘Make It!’
Cutting and Printing the File for Your Christmas Charm Bracelet:
- I find that with shrink plastic you need a very clean and sticky strong-grip mat, and even then you need to roll over it with the Cricut Brayer before securing it with masking tape!
- At this point, you’ll be asked what type of material you’re cutting. I really find this whole thing is a matter of trial and error, BUT I got the best results (this time…I’m used to experimenting on different days with different settings though!) with Magnetic Sheet 0.5mm on ‘Default.’ This option requires a clean and sharp deep cut blade, and as this pushes your material around quite a lot, keep an eye on your machine. Then, the ‘arrows’ light on your machine will be flashing to indicate that you insert the mat.
- Make sure you watch your machine as it cuts. Once cut, carefully remove from the larger sheet, and use a weeding tool to pop out the holes on each piece. Ultimately, you’ll end up with something like this:
- You’re now ready to start cooking (!). Arrange the pieces on top of a piece of greaseproof paper (or foil) on a baking tray as shown. (Apologies for the terrible photo – and my big head casting a shadow over everything!)
- Follow the instructions on your shrink plastic – it’s very likely that (if you’ve printed this on something like the Grafix Inkjet Shrink Plastic Sheets) then you will be setting your oven at around 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and putting it in for just three minutes! When you take it out it’ll look something like this:
- As you can see, they really have shrunk substantially! At this point, I like to remove them from the baking tray, put them on a flat surface and put a large book on top…and a fairly heavy weight on top of that! That tends to correct any ‘curling’ that’s occurred during the baking process.
- Repeat the whole thing for the remaining pieces. Ultimately, you’ll end up with all 24 shrunken pieces!
Making Your Christmas Charm Bracelet:
- Once they’re fully cooled, paint the backs of each of the pieces in shimmer Mod Podge, being careful not to block up the holes on each piece. (Look at my picture to see the ‘pin/Wonderclip’ system I used to help in the drying process!) Apply thinly and use layers (you can apply a new layer every 15 minutes) until you are happy with how it looks).
- Once they’re all dry, you need to apply the epoxy resin to each piece. Just apply it to the top side at first. Apply a blob in the centre, and once this is done, spread it around to reach up to the edges with the glue spreader (the corner of the spreader – or pins – can work very well for detailed sections) – being very careful not to go beyond them. Be especially careful around the holes – don’t block them!
- As you do each one, lay them out inside your UV nail lamp.
- Switch it on for four minutes. When you remove them, they’ll be set and shiny!
- Once you’ve worked through them all, carefully apply the epoxy to the back (if you wish!) and repeat the process (again, being careful not to block up the holes.
- Take your jump rings, and open them up with your jewellery pliers. Slide one through the holes on each of the pieces, and also through a place on the chain, being sure to provide a decent amount of space between each (for the fairly fine chain I was using six links was the perfect amount to leave between). Use your pliers to shut the jump ring til it’s a fastened circle. Repeat for all of the charms.
- Break the chain where you want to finish it (you can measure around your wrist, if you like). Slide a jump ring through one end of the chain.
- Slide a jump ring through the other end of the chain AND the clasp. Shut it with the jewellery pliers.
You now have a charm bracelet!!!
Want to make your own? Get our Christmas Charms file in svg, pdf, png, eps and dxf formats.
Don’t forget to let us know how you get on making this or our other projects – and help yourself to our FREE resources – in the CraftAGoGo Crucial Crafting Facebook group!