Permanent Marker Projects

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You know how we love our permanent marker projects, and I think most of you do, too, right?

In fact, you might have bins and buckets of permanent markers hanging around your house like we do. Let’s make stuff!

new awesome permanent markers (very low odor!)

We made 2 projects for this post, since we can never stop at just one:



DIY shrinky plastic earrings - using permanent markers •

1. Shrinky recycled plastic earrings – Fen doesn’t have pierced ears, but her older sister does, so we made some of these to send her at the camp where she is a counselor this summer. I saved the lids to a few takeout containers (mmmmmm, burgers.) and we punched holes out of them with our trusty hole punches. Punch some smaller holes in them and marker them up. If you don’t have a habit of collecting takeout lids, Amazon sells shrinky plastic sheets.


shrinky earrings- how much they shrink after baking •

This is a reference for how much they shrink. They don’t actually change design when you bake them…


Bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 2 minutes. Watch as they curl up and shrink and flatten out again. Weird little tip: the circles turn into ovals, and you can’t control if it ends up being a horizontal or vertical oval.


shrinky earrings made with permanent markers and #6 plastic takeout container lids •


Have you ever made earrings? Easy-peasy. Grab some small needle nose pliers, some jump rings and earring hooks. All you do is loop the jump rings around the hook and the plastic, and then close it up with your pliers.

2. Faux tie-dyed dotty socks- These knee socks are from the Target women’s sock section, because I couldn’t find any good tall socks in the girls’ section. They did have some ankle socks there, so feel free to substitute. I found some similar socks here.

Roll about 4 paper towels around your hand into a tube and stuff it inside of each sock. Let your kid draw on the socks with the markers. (We just dotted ours all over.)

paper towels stuffed in socks so the ink doesn't bleed through


Keep the paper towels inside so the marker doesn’t bleed through, hang them up, and spray or drip rubbing alcohol (from an eyedropper or small drop bottle) onto the markered areas. Start off with a little alcohol, and see how much you need to achieve your desired level of ink-runniness.

DIY tie dye socks- before and after spraying or dripping alcohol on permanent marker •

When the socks are dry, remove the paper towels and pop them into the dryer on high for 15 minutes to set the colors.

DIY faux tie dye socks project- using permanent markers and alcohol •


Faux tie-dye sock project using permanent markers •

Do not be alarmed when your 3 year old wants to make his own socks and wear them as superhero socks for 3 days straight.

coloring socks


  1. Audrey
    07/01/2013 / 9:09 am

    ooooh! I like! I might have to stash this for a birthday party activity or something! Question, oh queen of the permanent markers… do you know of any with circular flat heads for making dots? We had an experience with some at the Train Days event we went to but I stupidly didn’t look to see what brand they were and now I can’t find them. I REALLY want to acquire them for t-shirt making at Ev’s birthday party this fall – they were fabulous and did not wash out of the fabric

    • 07/01/2013 / 1:52 pm

      Ooooooh, I don’t know what those are! But they sound very cool. I couldn’t even find anything when I just did a Google search; are you sure it wasn’t all a big marker dream?

  2. Audrey
    07/01/2013 / 1:54 pm

    I have two adorable train shirts made with these dot markers and an engine stencil. I have searched and searched and can not find them!! I might have to call the Metroparks people and just ask them, so embarrassing. lol

    • 07/01/2013 / 10:10 pm

      Were they bingo markers? They have flat heads and make a circular mark. Perfect for bingo! And train shirts?

      • 07/02/2013 / 7:54 pm

        That’s so funny- I was assuming she was talking about small markers with flat tops, but maybe they ARE the bingo dobbers!

  3. 07/01/2013 / 8:26 pm

    The socks are pretty cool! I really need to try making earrings – just need to get myself some needle-nosed pliers.

    • 07/03/2013 / 9:08 pm

      Yep. Get little ones- I don’t think they’re expensive, and you’ll find yourself using them for all sorts of cool things.

  4. 07/02/2013 / 11:59 pm

    I’ve just tried to shrink plastic from a take out container and it didn’t hold it’s shape at all. It curled up into a really interesting bow-like shape and didn’t flatten out again, but it’s very cool – I love the free lines of it, and it did retain the punched hole so I can make something out of it. Don’t know why mine didn’t work out like yours, we must use a different plastic component here in Australia 🙂

    • 07/03/2013 / 9:52 am

      Oh no! Maybe you have some sort of ‘super plastic’… The stuff we used was #6 plastic, and it did curl up, but then eventually flattened down again. I think you definitely need to get more takeout food from several restaurants and test all of the tops!

    • 07/03/2013 / 9:53 am

      Thanks! I hadn’t done this before with my kids- I heard at some point that the plastic won’t shrink if you have a gas oven (as opposed to electric), but that’s clearly not the case.

  5. 07/03/2013 / 10:13 am

    At first I thought the socks would be cute, but you know, just socks. Then I scrolled down and fell in love with how they looked after the alcohol! I think we will add this to our “must do this summer” project list.

    • 07/03/2013 / 9:09 pm

      It’s the power of the scroll! I’m so excited you’re going to do this- show me if you do ’em.

  6. 07/03/2013 / 8:24 pm

    I am so impressed that you know terms like “jump ring”! Man, you really know what you are doing with the jewelry stuff! Love the art projects. We love permanant markers a little too much over here!

    • 07/03/2013 / 9:12 pm

      Oh, you. I know all sorts of fancy terms. That’s what expensive art school gets you…. permanent markers rank right up there in my top 5 art supplies, I think.

  7. 07/03/2013 / 8:25 pm

    And I had NO IDEA you could use recylable tops to canisters to make the Shrinky Dinks. Boy, I can’t believe I bought those kits! Where were you and your blog 5 years ago??!

    • 07/03/2013 / 9:13 pm

      I probably didn’t even know about that 5 years ago- Pinterest has opened up the whole world to us!

  8. 07/04/2013 / 4:35 pm

    What size plastic covers are best? the ones for the quart size containers or something more like the top of a Pringles can?

    • 07/08/2013 / 9:10 am

      You know, we just used the plastic tops that came with our takeout food. I’ve heard it only works with the #6 plastic, so you need to look and see if the 6 is on there in the recycling symbol. The size of the lid doesn’t matter as much as the type of it. I’m thinking the Pringles lids probably aren’t the right plastic type, but you’d need to check for sure.

  9. 07/08/2013 / 11:01 am

    I’m a big fan of markers and these summer-y crafts are super duper! I especially love the tie-dyed socks. FUN!

  10. nik
    04/08/2014 / 8:03 am

    When creating the earrings out of plastic lids…do you cut off the rim from the plastic top before you bake/ shrink.

    • 05/21/2014 / 11:48 am

      Hi Nik! We just used totally flat plastic, so I would probably cut off the rim of the top…. unless you want to try experimenting and see what happens! If you do, let me know!

  11. Magdalena
    12/18/2014 / 2:35 pm

    Hi! In new at this and i would like to know if instead of put them into the dryer, i could just let them set at the sun or something…
    My dryer died and im scared the colours may not stay the same after i wash them.

    Thank you!

    • 12/18/2014 / 3:40 pm

      Hi Magdalena- I would maybe try the sun to set it- I’m sure I’ve made some where I didn’t bother setting them in the dryer first, but if you’re really worried, you might want to test it on a scrap piece of fabric first!

  12. alice
    03/08/2015 / 10:02 am

    Hey 🙂
    I would like to know if the socks would work with sharpies as well ?
    Thanks in advance !

    • 03/08/2015 / 8:18 pm

      Yes! Use your Sharpies- they work really well with this technique.

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