This prayer shawl is bejeweled with 100 days in shrink plastic charms from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

100-Days in Shrink-plastic Charms 

A 100-day project shows the path of creativity is indirect, unpredictable and seldom boring but 100-days in shrink-plastic charms is unheard of. Like the three-month-plus time period in which it happens, 100 days allows for life.

My goal was to make a charm each day for 100 days. How hard could that be? Each day’s symbol would translate to a 2.5” x 2” piece of shrink plastic and would ultimately turn into charms on a prayer shawl.

Shrink plastic, first introduced to me by Julie Isaacs Haymaker, uses heat to reduce pieces by 40% or more, setting inks and brightening colors in the process. (Read another post about my shrinkey experiments (Five reasons to experiment) here.)

It seemed simple enough at the outset. An image usually started my day, although sometimes I contemplated words/images for multiple days at one time. As someone more comfortable with a needle and thread as a tool rather than a pencil, drawing proved to be challenging. The perfectionist in me protested loudly and frequently. The judge in me lambasted the efforts. I took pictures weekly to document my progress.

This picture depicts the halfway point in the 100-day challenge in shrink plastic charms for Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque
©2018, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Mid-way through the 100-day challenge

A variety of techniques like free-hand, tracing paper, simple words and patterns and a few stamped images helped me push through. I discovered my charms reflected life: a drive, a class, a creative project, circles of women, meaningful words. They weren’t earth-shattering, just daily. 

During the three-month period, I thought seriously about quitting. The command “begin” reflects my at least one time re-commitment. Another impetus came as my pod prod partners held me accountable and asked about progress.

As I shrunk each charm my 100 days came up for review. The specifics of 13+ weeks built a sense of immense satisfaction in completion. My scarf measured 80” in length, 40” in width, so I decided to attach the charms on three sides, leaving the top side close to my neck smooth. Each charm would be 2.4” from its neighbor, its brass jump ring secured with orange thread.

Significantly my 100th charm folded over on itself as if to question my intent to truly be done. Reluctantly but firmly I re-colored and re-shrunk the piece. 

The charm on the right had to be re-done, the final charm in the 100-days in shrink plastic charms for Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

With the perfect needle in my hand I began the last step of the process, attaching the charms to the shawl. It pleases me to share the story, the quest and this project with you. How can you use a project to stimulate your creativity? Go on. I dare you!

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