And I came across Shrinky Dinks!
Getting him to color on the plastic was sometimes easy and fun, sometimes super frustrating (I had to stop quick if we had a rough start). He's not drawn to art very much yet (sorry for the pun). So getting him to do this project was harder than it would be for parents of kids who love to draw. As you can see, you have to use Sharpie markers. He had my complete attention while using those things.
I tried drawing the shapes on first and having him color in the lines, but I actually preferred having him draw more free-form, spotting passages I liked in the drawing, and cutting the shapes from there. This might not fly with an older kid who has a vision, but it didn't bother Everett at all (he was 2.5 at the time).
He liked seeing the plastic shrink, but I think an older kid might get a much bigger kick out of it. I still think it's SO COOL!!
To finish them, I sanded the edges and the side that wasn't drawn on, if it had imperfections. Then, on the side with the color, I brushed on a layer of matte Mod Podge and finally sprayed two layers of DecoArt Triple Thick. I liked the way they looked after the spray, but they never dried as hard as I would have liked. I was imagining some sort of epoxy-like finish, but that didn't happen. You could see finger prints and nail marks. Very disappointing. If we do this again, I might try this product called Gel Du Soleil.
Finally, I added a ring, a bead, and whatever finding was required.
For my parents-in-law and my sister-in-law, we made wine glass charms.
All the grandparents (Brian's parents and my parents) got key chains.
Each set of grandparents got a Christmas tree ornament.
My mom got earrings and a necklace pendant (she wears more jewelry than anyone else in the family).
Another picture of my mom's gift.
And my sister-in-law got a pendant (below).
Overall, it was a really fun project. Everything turned out beautifully. And Everett was so proud of his work (and still is when he sees them at his grandparents' houses). I was pretty ambitious with the number of objects we made, but this was our main gift for all our immediate family. The sanding and wire twisting took longer than I imagined. But that's usually the case with my projects. If you're thinking about doing this, I'd suggest trying it with older children and only aiming for a few finished pieces.