Magic Plastic: What Is It and How to Use It?

Magic plastic is one of the trendiest materials in the craft world. Find out why it's so popular and how you can use it.
Magic Plastic: What Is It and How to Use It?

Last update: 16 April, 2023

Although it’s enjoying increasing popularity, there is nothing new about magic plastic. It has been used since the 1970s – among other things – for school crafts and costume jewelry. It’s also known as retractable plastic, and is available in various sizes and colors.

It’s called ‘magic’ because it can shrink in size and increase in thickness up to seven times when subjected to high temperatures. It can be used to make key chains, magnets, scrapbooking elements and much more. Want to know more about it? We’ll tell you all about it.

What is magic plastic used for?

Magic plastic is a favorite when it comes to making crafts, creating costume jewelry, and printing photos. There’s even a special variety for the latter purpose, although it tends to be more expensive than regular plastic.

People often make key chains, earrings, earring bases, pendants, magnets, and ornaments for decorating rings, hairpins and scrapbooking work. However, it’s so versatile, that the only limit is your imagination.

How to use magic plastic?

This plastic is very easy to use. Let’s see in detail what materials you need and what steps you must follow to use it in crafts.


The materials you’ll need are the following:

  • Magic plastic sheets of the size and color of your choice. If you want to print on them, be sure to ask for this type at the store where you buy them.
  • Permanent markers, alcohol-based inks, crayons, stamps, or chalk. Keep in mind that you won’t need all of them; in general, this depends on the plastic sheet you are going to use.
  • Small scissors and a hole punch. The latter if you’re planning to make a pendant, a keychain or a pair of earrings.
  • Designs. Whether you want to print or trace on your magic plastic, it’s necessary to prepare the designs you’re going to use.
  • Sandpaper, preferably fine grade. You’ll probably need it if the design has a lot of curves or if small imperfections form when cutting.
  • Oven, heat gun, or hair dryer. In this case, you can use one of the three. If you’re making crafts with children, this part should always be done by an adult.


The process of making crafts with magic plastic can be divided into drawing the design and baking. For the first step, the design must be drawn, traced, or printed on the sheet. Then, you need to cut, sand and make a hole (only if necessary; for example, for key chains, earrings, pendants, among others).

However, there are some considerations that you must take into account when shaping the design. Some of them are the following:

  • All formats, except the transparent one, can be used with colored pencils.
  • To draw on the transparent sheets, you can use markers, alcohol-based inks, and stamps with permanent paint.
  • Always draw on the rough surface of the sheets.
  • Color without using too much pressure. It isn’t necessary to be completely uniform; after all, the plastic shrinks up to seven times its size, so the colors become more intense.
  • Cut out leaving a margin of two to three millimeters. Also, try not to make the shapes too complicated, as the figure could be ruined during baking.


Before putting the figures in the oven, the oven should be preheated to a minimum of 140 °C and a maximum of 170 °C (280 to 340 Fahrenheit). Once it’s hot, place the item in the oven. Keep in mind that it must be on baking paper on a tray.

Keep it in the oven for three minutes. Then take it out, let it cool and that’s it! You have made your first magic plastic craft. If the piece isn’t flexible, it still needs to be baked.

Something similar happens if it has bubbles; this is an indication that the temperature wasn’t high enough, and so you’ll need to put it back in the oven. This time it may take a little longer.

Magic plastic, a material with infinite possibilities

Magic plastic has become a must in the world of crafts. It’s one of the favorite materials for making costume jewelry and accessories. In addition, it’s also used in the manufacture of souvenirs for special occasions, such as weddings.

People choose it because it’s easy to use and the possibilities are endless. However, as it requires the use of an oven to process it, crafts with children should be supervised and supported by an adult.

In case the material sticks, it should be removed immediately from the oven. Once it cools a little, it can be separated with the help of a utensil. Once this is done, the only thing left to do is to heat it up again so that the shrinking process takes place properly. Would you like to try it? You’ll be amazed at the results!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.