Spooky Halloween Styrofoam Shrinky Dinks

Create miniature Halloween figurines using Styrofoam meat trays.  Yes, meat trays!
By Patti Johnson, SCRAP Humboldt Education Coordinator

The trays used for packaging meat, cheese, and even deli sandwiches are made of polystyrene plastic (Styrofoam).  The plastic has been injected with air to make it light weight.  This process also inhibits the recyclability of the material and therefore once used the one and only final destination is the land fill. When introduced to heat the polystyrene shrinks and hardens; making an ideal medium for crafting charms and figurines.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Styrofoam meat tray
Permanent markers
Utility or Exacto knife
300 degree oven
Cookie sheet or thin pie tin
Your imagination

  1. Wash the Styrofoam tray with HOT soapy water
  2. Cut out the bottom flat portion of the tray with a utility or Exacto knife (scissors are not quite the right tool).  This is the area you will draw your design on.
  3. Using the permanent marker draw a Halloween figure on the flat tray bottom.  The design will need to be at least 3″x 3″; when heated it will shrink 1/2 to 2/3rd its original size. Try starting with a design that has minimal edges for the best results. Also note the marker will stay on the design. 
  4. Cut the design out with the utility or Exacto knife
  5. Place on a cookie sheet and into a pre-heated 300 degree oven
  6. Heat for about 3 minutes. The Styrofoam will curl as it shrinks and then lay flat; that’s when it is done.  CAUTION the heated Styrofoam releases noxious fumes! Use the range hood fan and/or ventilate the room before opening the oven.
  7. Let the figurine cool.  At this stage it will also harden 
Your Halloween Shrinky Dink Figurines and charms can now be strung into a bracelet, hung from a dry branch placed in a vase or used to create a miniature spooky Halloween scene. BOO!