Fourth of July is coming up (and today happens to be Flag Day) so the girls and I made a patriotic centerpiece for our dining table. We reused bottles and added some “labels” and some heart ornaments using shrink plastic, colored with acrylic paint.
We also made one to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge (inspired by this artwork)…
…accompanied by California Poppies the girls made from coffee filters.
Here’s how we made our
Patriotic Bottle Centerpiece with Shrink Plastic.
The main supply you will need is shrink plastic. You will also need a pencil, ruler, acrylic paint and foam brushes, scissors, hole punches (3/4 inch and standard (1/4 inch)), paper bag, oven, oven mitt, floral wire, twine, and bottles.
Some notes about this shrink plastic: It has a rough side and a smooth side. You’ll paint on the rough side, but display the smooth side. So you will need to make your artwork as a mirror image. Shrink plastic shrinks down to 1/3 of the original size, and 9 times the original thickness. Most importantly, please read all the directions before you begin, and keep them handy throughout the process.
First I worked on the flag. I used the entire 8” x 10” sheet, which shrinks down to about 4 1/8” x 3 1/4”. I drew the mirror image of the flag with a pencil. The blue section is 3 1/2” x 4 1/2” and the stripes are about 1”.
Then I started painting the blue section with a foam brush. Try to use continuous strokes all the way across. (Note: If you want to include stars, you would paint the stars first with white paint, let it dry, then paint over it with blue paint. The white stars will show on the opposite i.e. shiny side, which is the side you want to see.)
Then I painted the red and white stripes. No need to be perfect.
Here’s a peek at the other side (the shiny side that becomes the front in the end). Set it aside to dry.
Next, the girls and I worked on the hearts. I had them each paint “modern art” onto a sheet.
We need to punch holes before baking. Remember the holes will shrink too. So for the flags, I am going to use twine to tie them to the bottles. So I used my 3/4” hole punch on either side, about 2.5” from the top and bottom.
For the hearts, I need to thread the floral wire through, so I used a standard (1/4”) hole punch, at the top in the middle.
In the meantime, get a bottle ready to shape the flag into a curve. I set mine on a potholder so it wouldn’t roll around.
Here’s my shrink plastic after about 2 minutes! Yikes! If this happens, add another minute or two, and it should flatten out.
Once it has flattened, take the flag (caution: hot!) and put it on your bottle, shiny side up. I used my oven mitt to shape it around the bottle so I wouldn’t burn myself. If you find the plastic is too hard and won’t bend, put it back into the oven for a few more minutes. If you force it, it will break (I speak from experience). Just make sure it’s super soft when you bend it. Again, be careful when handling it as it will be hot.
Now that the flag has cooled and hardened, it’s keeping the curved shape.
Here are some of the hearts!
I threaded my floral wire through the hole and twisted it on in the back. Note: I’ve had this floral wire in my stash forever, from my mom, so I have no idea where it’s from. But it’s not the really thick and stiff kind, but it has some paper covering it and is rather pliable.
The girls volunteered to arrange the heart flowers. Surprisingly, they did a good job (I was over-thinking it, as usual).
Finally, I added the flag to the bottle, which I wrapped in twine to hide the label I couldn’t remove. I threaded some twine through the holes on one side, then went across the back to the other side.
Then I slipped it onto the bottle and tied a knot.
Yes you could totally do this with paper or fabric, but I like the shine of the shrink plastic. And what kid doesn’t love watching it shrink in the oven?
There are so many possibilities with the shrink plastic, beyond the things we made with it as kids. Reading the directions that came with the shrink plastic, there’s so much you could do with it. Hope to use more of this stuff soon…my girls are already asking to make more!
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