March 18, 2009

ShapeLock: Plastic for Crafters

I ran across ShapeLock while watching a video of a robot someone had made from a remote-controlled helicopter. They used this amazing mold-able plastic to create the robot's outer shell and legs. I found out that ShapeLock becomes soft at only 150 degrees fahrenheit, so you just need to pop it in the microwave or put it in hot water! The gears in my head immediately started spinning with all the great crafty things you could make out of this stuff!

Is it safe? What is it really? It's a non-toxic plastic similar to nylon or polypropylene. It's endlessly reusable, drillable and paintable. Basically, it's awesome.

I bought a big bag for myself right away, not really knowing what I would do with it. I played with it for a day, and mostly came away with pruney, lightly burned fingers, since I needed to keep reheating the water it was in to keep it mold-able. Once it hits 149 degrees, it's not really moving anymore, no matter how much you poke it! I made a tiny figurine and a few organic-looking rings. I mashed some food coloring into some of it, which gave it a pale blue tint. I'm afraid the rings might lose their shape if they were worn on a hot summer day (or displayed in the sun for too long) so this might not be the best material for sellable jewelry. Just think what else you could do though!

I haven't had much time to experiment with my plastic since that first day, but I did find a great use for it: caps for the new industrial shelves I just put in my office! The tops of these shelf poles were left unfinished, and I was in danger of ripping my sleeves on them while pulling something off the top shelf. In a couple of minutes, I'd capped them all with shiny white plastic slugs (I didn't bother trying to make them look nice). The caps should pop off pretty easily if I ever decide to remove them, but for now, they're doing a great job of keeping me safe.

Check out ShapeLock's website for FAQ's and suggested uses, or to buy your own: They even have free samples available, which would have been a good idea for me. I went with the 250 gram bag, and it's quite a lot!


Pauleridoo March 19, 2009 at 8:11 PM  

Hey there - I've seen this stuff for sale by jewelery tool merchants. They sold it for making custom-fitted handles for your jeweler's files, and other small tools like engraving tools. Also, for form fitting around your small jewelry pieces so you can work on them when they are awkward to hold with your fingies. Never bought any, but keep thinking about it. Have fun!

Amanda March 19, 2009 at 10:25 PM  

Yep, that's what it's being marketed for. There are so many other cool things that could me done with it though! I just keep thinking of all the cool sculptural things it could be used for.

Now I know what you'll be getting for your birthday this year... ;)

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