Friendly Plastic

Last weekend, the guys in the house were away on a Boy Scout camping trip so the girls set up a “playdate” with my sister-in-law to craft all day. She introduced me to a different medium called Friendly Plastic.

These are plastic strips that become soft when heated and can be formed, molded, stamped, and blended. It was our first experience with it, so we spent much of the day playing with the basics. Unfortunately, I was too busy learning and figuring things out to take a lot of pictures. You’re going to have to use your imagination!

My sister-in-law brought a small electric griddle for heating the plastic and pieces of a silicone mat to keep the plastic from sticking to any surfaces. We used cookie cutters to cut our shapes and had a Cool Whip tub with cold water to quench the pieces when we didn’t feel like waiting for them to cool. Baby oil was our secret weapon to keep the plastic from sticking to cookie cutters, fingers, or other tools.

The first technique was to cut out a basic shape. I had to heat up a piece of plastic until it became soft. I pressed a small metal cookie cutter into the softened plastic and either waited for the plastic to become firm again or dunked the plastic and cutter into the basin of water to quickly cool it.

To add interest to that simple shape, I heated the piece again. While waiting, I selected a rubber stamp and coated it with baby oil. It took a careful touch to get the impression just right – not too deep or too shallow. (My first one was way too deep.) IMG_0191 (Medium)

And then I took it one step farther, using some Rub ‘n Buff. The high spots were colored with a metallic brown while the copper-colored plastic showed through in the impressions.

IMG_0183 (Medium) IMG_0182 (Medium)

The rest of the day, we experimented with fracturing. Pieces of Friendly Plastic can be melded together. We each picked several colors and cut them into strips, laying them next to each other on the silicone sheet. While the plastic was warm, I had to rub across the seams to close any gaps and get the different colors to stick to each other.  Once I had a striped strip, that was cut into long strips and reassembled with lots of melting and rubbing. It reminded me of Piet Mondriaan’s art, except that my colors were blue, white, gold, and copper.

Piet Mondriaann, from Wikimedia

I used cookie cutters to get small shapes from the fractured plastic and eventually turned them into charms on a bracelet. The larger charms on the bracelet were cut from solid color plastic and then I melted in scraps from the fractured plastic like confetti. IMG_0185 (Medium)

Before we quit for the day, I had to try one more piece. We had some flower charms with a lot of open space that would make a neat pendant. First, I melted the plastic and cut it with an oiled-up jewelry blank. That piece was melted once more, and the metal charm was pushed into it. When it cooled, it was glued into a clean jewelry blank using E6000 adhesive. I think this might look good on a leather cord, but I haven’t put it together yet. IMG_0190 (Medium)

One of the neat things about Friendly Plastic is that very little has to be thrown away. It can almost always be remelted and blended with other scraps to make something new. As I prefer, love, to make things from scraps rather than buying tons of new supplies, this really resonates with me.

I used to miss my husband when he went off camping with the Boy Scouts. With “playdates” like these, I’m now checking the calendar to see when we have another free Saturday to craft. I think next time we’ll be experimenting with alcohol inks on the plastic to see what effects we can get. I also saw some interesting marbling techniques on Pinterest to try.

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