Shrinky Dinks at Zeitgeist

There's a small shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe, a nightlight by illustrator Julie Hartley, and a picture of a martini glass by Meredith Chernick titled Shrinky-tini. Street artist Jason Vickers fashioned a vivid red cartoon character complete with text bubble. New-York-based artist James Jaxxa made a delicate silver garland of pink flowers. All are primarily made from the oven-baked, plastic medium kids have loved since the '70s: Shrinky Dinks. Though artists are frequently asked to donate their work to charitable causes, few challenges are as fun and unique as the fifth annual Shrinky-Dinks Invitational and Auction at Zeitgeist Cafe. Over 60 artists have contributed to the show, which this year benefits SafeFutures Youth Center. "The medium is crazy," says cafe co-owner Bryan Yeck, who helped found the invitational and has contributed a piece himself. It's also extremely accessible, irresistible, and potentially beautiful. You can photocopy images onto it or run a sheet through a computer printer (but you can't microwave it). Yeck advises Shrinky Dink artists to be patient. "You have got to preheat the oven—that's the key," he says. And don't panic when your creation curls in the oven—it will eventually lay flat again. "People freak out and pull it out." The event has the blessing of Betty J. Morris, who invented the novelty craft in 1973 and has since won the rights back from Hasbro: "She thinks it's wonderful," says Yeck. Morris shipped Yeck a crateful of plastic sheets at a discounted price, which he then distributed to the participants for free. Though some established artists took part, like Jaxxa and painters Robert Yoder and Donna Romero, work by name artists doesn't necessarily prompt the highest bids. Perfectly fabulous creations are made by lesser-known people. So far, the highest sale has been $225, and the March 2 auction netted $2500. Not bad for a kids' craft. Zeitgeist Coffee, 171 S. Jackson St. 206-583-0497, 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Through March.

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