I don't know what it is about refrigerators that make you want to display every piece of semi- to very important piece of information on them, but there's definitely something to love about having wedding announcements/postcards/niece and nephew Christmas photos displayed on the fridge. It's like having little reminders of happiness right where you can see them. That being said, it's double the fun to have photos of some of your favorite things and people as the actual magnets too. Joining up with our friends at Canon USA, we thought it would be nostalgic to use a blast-from-the-past material (Shrinky Dinks!) to make our own official, customized photo magnets at home!
–Canon PIXMA MG7120 Printer
–printable Shrinky Dinks paper
-photo editing software (you don't need anything too fancy. Just something that allows you to resize the photo and lighten the image)
-toaster or conventional oven (a microwave won't work for this project)
-brown craft paper (or a paper grocery bag)
-magnets with adhesive backing
-printable cacti files (cactus one, cactus two, cactus three right click and select "download file")
Step One: PRINT! Select the photo that you want to print. Use your photo editing software to lighten the photo about 50% so that it looks washed out. It will look pretty weird at this stage, but once it shrinks the color and contrast will return. Once baked, the image will shrink to about 1/3 its size, so keep that in mind when deciding how big to print your starting image. Follow the instructions in the Shrinky Dinks package to print out your photos onto the special paper. We printed ours on the PIXMA MG7120, which works great with a variety of paper types and gave us the exact print quality we needed for this project.
Step Two: CUT! Use scissors to cut around the edge of your image. If you are wanting just a regular square photo magnet (Instagrams work great for these), cut right to the edge of the photo or leave a little bit of white around the edges (and double the white on the bottom) for a Polaroid photo look.
Step Three: BAKE! Preheat your oven to 300° and line the bottom of a cookie tray with either a piece of craft paper or a brown grocery bag. Place the photo printed side down on the brown paper and bake in the oven for 3-8 minutes. The reason the time varies so much is that it really depends on how big the starting photo is and what type of oven you have. I found the propane oven at the studio took quite a bit longer, so the larger photos took closer to 8 minutes.
The photo will start to curl up and shrink once you put it in the oven. So just turn the oven light on and keep an eye on it until it starts to uncurl and lay flat again. Once it's pretty flat and hasn't continued to shrink for about 30 seconds, pull the sheet out of the oven (it's OK if it's not completely flat, even 90% flat will do).
You can see how much smaller the final photo is than when you first print it and how the contrast and color return once it shrinks. Once the photo has cooled, admire your tiny photos and cut a magnet strip for the back. That's it!
To be honest, I was the only person in the office that hadn't used Shrinky Dinks when they were a kid to make their own charms or jewelry at home. So this project was extra fun for me, and allowed me to see how it works and shrinks before your very eyes. The final photo image is a thick hard plastic, so it's the perfect material to attach a magnet to and looks more official than just a magnetized photo. This is a really fun way to decorate your fridge, and they would make really unique gifts too! What photo would you like to make into a magnet? xo. Laura