PolyShrink Q & A

The subject headings below are in blue to help you find topics of interest more easily.

Browse through the topics, or use the links at the right to jump to a topic. You can also use the site search engine through the link above.

This page is proportioned for trouble free printing. It's intended as a suppliment to the PolyShrink General Instructions and the PolyShrink FAQs.


Do you have questions or technique tips you'd like to share? Please write us!

Ink Jet Printing

Photo Copying onto PolyShrink

Copyright/ Angel Companies

Gocco Printers & PolyShrink


Intaglio & Rubber Stamps


Dye Based Inks

PolyShrink & Polymer Clay

Ink Jet Printing

Can you print onto PolyShrink with an ink jet printer?

PolyShrink doesn't have the special coating needed to absorb the moisture in ink jet ink. On unsanded PolyShrink the ink beads up, and on sanded PolyShrink the ink runs into the sanding lines and the image becomes blurry.

Below are links to the sites that offer ink jet coated shrink plastic on the web. (No endorsement of these products is intended.)

Is there a do-it-yourself coating that will make PolyShrink OK for inkjet printing?

We've heard of using Krylon Dulling Spray, which is made for spraying a temporary dull finish onto objects that are going to be photographed. Although it is water soluble and will take on the excess moisture in ink jet printer ink, it has a major drawback-

It is designed to be easily removable and never dries thoroughly.This is not a plus for use with an ink jet printer. Dulling Spray stays a little tacky no matter how long it's left to dry, making it kind of slippery.

The only reliable coatings that we know of are industrially applied. (See the links above)
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Photo Copying onto PolyShrink

Can you print on PolyShrink using a photocopier?

It is possible to run PolyShrink through a copier with very nice results. There is a certain element of risk to the copier, although we've never heard of a copier being damaged.

The concern in running PolyShrink on a copier is having a jam at the toner setter rollers. This is the area of the copier where the paper (or PolyShrink) passes through two heated rollers and the toner is set. Should the PolyShrink stop moving through the machine in this area, it could begin shrinking or melting. You should know any copier well enough to clear a paper jam quickly, if you're considering using it for PolyShrink.

Small, relatively slow copiers (often called desktop copiers) seem to work best. Large high speed copiers are more likely to have problems with the PolyShrink jamming before the sheet can exit the machine. Toner setting functions are also set at higher temperatures in larger machines.

We've found the following test helpful-
Try running card stock of approximately the same thickness as PolyShrink through the bypass. If the copier runs card stock time after time, without any trouble or hang ups, there's less chance that there will be a problem running plastic. Sheets should be fed through one at a time, and always through the bypass. Never attempt to run any kind of plastic from the paper tray.

We (of course) have to say that running PolyShrink through a copier is done at your own risk.


How should plastic be prepared for printing in a copier?

If you're planning to do any coloring after printing, the plastic should be sanded and wiped clean of dust with a dry cloth.


What is best for coloring on PolyShrink photocopies?

Transparent media, like chalk pastels, or water colors are a good choice. Transparent materials have a big advantage over opaque media like colored pencils when coloring over a printed image. With transparent materials, any color that you get on the black part of the design will show as a haze of color over the printed image after baking. But with transparent media, the hazy colors will vanish after applying a coat of spray sealer and the printed part of the design will return to jet black.

Because of this effect, transparent media is also a good choice for coloring images stamped in permanent, solvent type stamping ink. See the PolyShrink General Instructions for details.
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Copyright/ Angel Companies

Is it OK to photocopy stamp images? What is an "Angel Company"?

Thanks to "My Heart Stamps For You"
http://www.myheartstamps4u.com/stamps/angelco.htm  for the following information:

An Angel Company produces graphics (such as rubber stamps or clip art) that grants a limited license to sell things made with their images.

This usually includes:

  • Being allowed to sell handmade crafts bearing an image that the company owns and sells (example: hand stamped impressions on handmade greeting cards for sale at a craft fair).
  • Crediting the original company somewhere on the craft work.

This usually does NOT include:

  • Mechanical reproduction of the image (for example, photocopying)
  • Creating another rubber stamp from the original.
  • Selling mechanical reproductions.

Some companies don't allow crafters to use their images in anything that will be sold. They can be used in personal projects only. This is their legal right as holders of the copyrights.

Individual angel companies will have their own policies, which can be obtained by contacting the company.

For one of numerous Angel Company Lists go to:


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Gocco Printers & PolyShrink

Are Gocco Printers good for printing on PolyShrink?

They're great! Because of the way the process works, it's easy to color an image before it's printed by putting the PolyShrink over a copy of the design and coloring it, then aligning the colored sheet on the printing platform of the printer and printing last. Because you don't have to worry about the coloring media getting on the ink, you can use any media you like including colored pencils. (See the info above concerning coloring on photocopies)

Another advantage of the Gocco Printer is that you can print in different colors or a combination of colors.

For more info:

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Is it my imagination, or are larger or longer pieces more likely to curl up during baking? Is oven too hot? Not hot enough?

Bigger pieces are a bit more challenging to bake, as are pieces with internal cut outs like frames. Try lowering your oven temp so that shrinking happens more slowly, and hopefully more controllably.

Occasionally a piece will stick to itself during shrinking. As soon as you notice that this has happened, stop heating and allow to cool for a 20 seconds or so, or blow on the joint to speed cooling. Pull gently, and you'll hear a tiny "snap". Avoid pulling while hot as this will distort the piece. Once separated, return the piece to the oven and heat through. If the piece still doesn't lay flat, but has finished shrinking, gently smooth flat using cardboard. Apply gently pressure for 10-20 seconds to allow it to cool in the flattened position.

What baking method is best?
Should I use a separate oven from one I prepare food in?

Visit the Baking Section in the Techniques Gallery
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Intaglio & Rubber Stamps

Will the Intaglio technique damage or alter the rubber stamp?
It seems the heat could damage the rubber.

When rubber stamps are made, they go through a process called vulcanization.The rubber is heated while being pressed against the metal plate that the design has been etched into. Vulcanizing temperature is around 425º, which far exceeds the temperature for Intaglio.

A lot of heat is generated when a piece of PolyShrink is being warmed up for the Intaglio process. Place the stamp that you'll be using enough distance away that it won't be absorbing a lot of stray heat. Prolonged heating of a stamp won't damage the rubber, but it can soften the foam adhesive used to attach stamps to the indexing block.

We make samples by the hundreds for our stores, so we have stamps that have been used for Intaglio many times, and none show any ill affects.

If you don't have them yet, get the PolyShrink General Instructions which include directions for the Intaglio technique. If you'd like to see some pieces made using this technique, go to the Galleries pages or search on the word intaglio.
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Adhesives/ Glues

Any suggestions for gluing pin backs onto PolyShrink? The thick, white tacky glue didn't work so well.

There are (as far as we're aware) 3 glues that work really well.

One is UTB - Ultra Thin Bond. It isn't toxic and it bonds completely in several minutes. You do need to have a heat gun (embossing tool) to use it. It comes in sheet form and is activated with heat. Because it is not a liquid, it has a very long shelf life, so you don't end up throwing any away.

Another is Cool Gloo which is used with the Cool Bonder dispenser gun. The dispenser is a lot like a mini chalking gun. This glue tends to dry up in the tube after it is opened.

The last is E-6000.It is undeniably stinky, gloppy and toxic, but it works. This is another solvent based glue that begins to dry up after the tube is opened.
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Dye Based Inks

Your instructions suggest using heat setting pigment inks. I am wondering why you don't also suggest dye inks.Would these adhere OK if applied before I shrank the PolyShrink? I want to use them to create background color behind an image.

Dye inks have a tendency to run into sanding lines on PolyShrink as well as to darken (and become muddy) in reaction to heat. Also, they'll be reactive to light over time- and will probably fade. They are one of the least permanent inks around too, even if applied to sanded PolyShrink before baking, so they'll definitely need several coats of sealer.

Despite all that, we've seen some interesting backgrounds using dye base inks. We don't recommend them specifically in the general instructions, because the uses are somewhat limited. You should try any and everything though!

If you'd like, try these also for a background wash:

  • thinned heat set ink (colors are mixable)
  • watercolor wash

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PolyShrink & Polymer Clay

I want to use PolyShrink as inlay in some of my polymer clay pieces. Should the PolyShrink inlay be added before or after baking the polymer?

The suggested baking temperature of polymer is far enough below the temperature for PolyShrink that it's possible to bake pre-shrunk PolyShrink while they're in place in your polymer pieces. The polymer clay can be smoothed up to the edges of the inlay pieces, so that the PolyShrink is flush with the surface of the clay.

Baking the PolyShrink and clay together doesn't adhere them to each other. After the baking cycle for the clay has been done, it's a good idea to gently remove the inlay and replace them using a small amount of glue underneath.

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