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This is a project I’ve been wanting to make ever since I saw this post February 2011: Everyday Cricut – I Love You Shrinky Dink Pin. I loved the idea of the shrink plastic pin, but the ladies in my family don’t wear much jewelry, so I had to change it up a bit. I decided to see if I could incorporate the ‘I love you’ into a keychain or wall art.

FUN FACT: The “I love you” sign is a combination of the American Sign Language (ASL) letters I, L, and Y. (Source: Lifeprint.com)

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I purchased the Cricut Makin’ The Grade cartridge specifically for this project. A few other cartridges had hands, but that one was my favorite. The finished hand needed to be less than 2″ tall after shrinking, so it was cut at 6.2″ tall (being a layer for a larger image, the actual size was about 3.5″ tall).

TIP: If the packaging isn’t clear about the amount of shrinkage (or you need help visualizing it), you might want to create a shrink plastic ruler. Start by cutting a strip of shrink plastic & carefully marking the inches and/or centimeters. Punch any holes for hanging before shrinking your ruler. Use a heat tool or oven to shrink the ruler. Now you have a handy reference tool for what size your shrink plastic will be after shrinking.

Since my son wanted to help, we ended up with piles of paper & tools all over the table. I didn’t dare have my camera out, so I don’t have anywhere near the usual number of pictures. On the up-side, I took notes…

Hand One: I used my heat tool to shrink the hand & let it cool. Since my son didn’t want to sit still while I heated the shrink plastic, I asked him to go read for thirty minutes so I could finish up heating & folding the hands. After he bounced out of the room, I reheated the shrink plastic to soften it for folding. I over-estimated my speed (& the cooling time) which resulted in broken fingers.

Hand Two: After a break for a drink & an attitude adjustment, I started on the second hand & promptly got distracted. (Yes, my son did suddenly pop back into the room & start asking questions… Why do you ask?) Anyway, while I was distracted, the wooden dowel ended up under the shrinking fingers & the fingers promptly stuck to it. After a bit of muttering & scrapping (my son wisely chose to duck back out of the room at this point), the four fingers unstuck. Of course, they were already up stretched out & twisted, but at least I got my wooden dowel back. After another drink (just soda) & a second attitude adjustment, I had to admit that the twisted hand looked really neat, just much more suited to a Halloween project than a Mother’s Day gift… Moving on…

Hand Three: In for a penny, in for a pound… I scratched the front of the final shrink plastic with my nail (my sanding grip was buried somewhere on the table) & flipped through my stamps. I finally choose the “You’re Loved” heart from Close To My Heart (S1202) Thoughtful Tidings stamp set & stamped it on the front of the shrink plastic hand with Jet Black Ranger Archival Ink. Thankfully, the shrinking & finger folding happened without further incident. Now my son & I had to make our shrink plastic ‘I love you’ hand into a Mother’s Day gift.

We’d gotten a Tim Holtz Idea-ology Pocket Watch Frame to put the ‘I love you’ shrink plastic hand inside of, but I was worried that it wouldn’t survive if it was used as a keychain. Nana is very active with the local animal rescue groups in addition to having her own menagerie at home (three dogs, a desert tortoise, at least six horses, plus various foster animals… and a rabbit if she finally snuck it past my Dad). After some thought, we agreed that something for the wall would be best. We found the perfect picture frame at Aaron Brothers & it was on sale. What could be better?

My son chose a handmade paper with foil butterflies to put inside the pocket watch. 'I Love You' Hand - detailScript from the Artful Things Stampers Anonymous (Tim Holtz Collection) stamp set was stamped over the foil butterfly with Jet Black Ranger Archival Ink. A circle of paper was cut to fit inside the pocket watch & glued securely with Glossy Accents. At this point, we realized that the hand, being clear, didn’t stand out on top of the colorful background. While my son looked through the paints, I found the sanding grip & carefully sanded the back of the hand. A thin layer of Pearl White Jacquard Lumiere added a translucent layer & helped to visually separate the hand from the background. The year stamp on the pink scrap of paper was from Close To My Heart (D1339) Moments in Time stamp set & was stamped with Jet Black Ranger Archival Ink. The finished shrink plastic ‘I love you’ hand was glued inside the pocket watch with Glossy Accents & left to dry while we worked on the frame.

The background of the butterfly paper inside the pocket watch was a muted green, so I pulled out lime green glitter paper & olive-green cardstock for inside the picture frame. The circular sentiment around the watch on the lime green glitter paper was stamped in Jet Black Ranger Archival Ink & was from the CTMH (D1217) Free Spirit stamp set. The olive-green cardstock was given a layer of Heirloom Gold Perfect Pearls Mist thru my new Mini Cosmic Swirl 6×6 template by The Crafter’s Workshop.

'I LoveYou' Hand - detailThe pocket watch wouldn’t fit in the picture frame with the glass, so I added spacers to the frame in place of the glass. I had just finished off a roll of ¼” Terrifically Tacky Tape, so I cut the leftover plastic ring into 4 parts & glued them around the opening of the frame on the inside using a generous amount of Glossy Accents. If you look at the detail photo to the left, you can see the gap created by the spacers. That gap allows the pocket watch to rest far enough back in the frame that it’s front is even with the front edge of the picture frame.

The picture frame came with white organza ribbon tied to the back for hanging. That element was repeated with a piece of thinner white organza ribbon tied to top of the pocket watch & secured on the back of the frame. Mini Glue Dots hold the pocket watch in place inside the frame & to prevent it from swinging around.

So that’s our Mother’s day present to Nana. I hope she likes it as much as we do. Here’s a photo of the finished project…


Supply List

  • Shrink Plastic hand: Cricut Machine & Makin’ The Grade Cartridge
  • Stampers Anonymous (Tim Holtz Collection): Clear Stamp – Artful Things
  • CTMH: (S1202) Thoughtful Tidings
  • Ranger Archival Ink: Jet Black
  • Tim Holtz Sanding Grip & Sandpaper
  • Jacquard Lumiere paint: (568) Pearl White
  • Indian Handmade Paper from JoAnn
  • Glossy Accents
  • CTMH: (D1339) Moments in Time
  • Tim Holtz Idea-ology Pocket Watch Frame
  • Lime Green Glitter Paper
  • CTMH: (D1217) Free Spirit
  • Olive Green Cardstock
  • Perfect Pearls Mist: Heirloom Gold
  • The Crafter’s Workshop: Mini Cosmic Swirl 6×6 Template
  • White Organza Ribbon
  • Mini Glue Dots
  • 4×4 Circle frame from Aaron Brothers