As much as I try to keep our trash to a minimum, there's still stuff that we can't put in the recycling bin. For example, our meat from the grocery store comes on a tray covered with plastic wrap. Today I tried to find an alternate use for a Styrofoam meat tray when I experimented with making jewelry from it.
I Googled uses for Styrofoam trays and started checking out sites. It soon became a trip down memory lane. Remember Shrinky Dinks? It's a piece of shrinkable plastic you color, then put in the oven to shrink. They get smaller and thicker; you can use them for ornaments, jewelry, or other decorations. When my kids were in preschool, they brought home "Shrinky-dink like" pins and earrings made out of meat trays; I decided to see if I could make a more adult version.
The first step was to cut my meat tray into pieces. I cut off the sides to make a flat piece of foam, then measured and cut it into individual pieces. I made the pieces 1" square, and poked a hole into each with a skewer.
Next, I cut free-form circles from the pieces. I made different sizes, so I could see what would happen to each size after they baked. (Yeah, I know my circles aren't perfect. I'm a Martha wannabe!)
After the pieces were on a pizza tray, I put them in a 350 degree oven for 2 minutes. This is what they looked like when they came out. The foam came out about a third of its original size, and the color was much more intense. They were completely rigid, and very hard.
These beads weren't ready for prime time...they were too irregularly shaped, with ragged edges. The hole shrunk so that a beading needle could barely pass through. However, with a few adaptations, I could see these beads in a pair of earrings or on a necklace.