Shrinky Dinks inventor speaks to local students
By Randy Rendfeld
The inventor of the “Shrinky Dinks” told Edgewood Elementary students Thursday not to let their dreams shrink.
Betty Morris of Brookfield, Wis., said 14 years ago she had an idea — to make artful objects from shrinkable plastic. Her company, K&B Innovations Inc., since has sold about 365 million worth of Shrinky Dinks products in 14 countries.
Morris’ day-long visit to Edgewood, where students are studying inventions, was funded by the Anderson Community Schools Foundation Inc. “Grants 500” program.
Morris said in the beginning she made numerous calls trying to find a plastic that would shrink. Finally she found it. But there was a catch. She would have to buy a 1,000-pound roll of it. Instead, she sent for samples of the plastic.
The shrinkable art was an instant success with children she knew. So, Morris and a partner eventually bought 1,000 pounds and packaged it. In those days before colored pencils could be used to decorate Shrinky Dinks, Morris said her product sold so quickly in Brookfield, Wisconsin, “Sears ran out of permanent-ink markers.”
Sales expanded to 26 stores, and in five months, more than 150,000 worth of shrinkable plastic had been sold. Morris said she had to “work around the clock” to keep up with demands. “Some people have said kids don’t have a thing left to invent,” Morris said. “That’s not true.”
Writing something on paper is the mechanical part of creative thinking, but “it has to start here,” Morris said, pointing to her head. “This is where creative thinking happens.” Mayor Thomas McMahan and Dr Thomas Neat, Anderson Community Schools superintendent, took part in a brief Shrinky Dinks baking session in the gym.
McMahan told students, “When I was your age, I used to hear, ‘There s nothing new under the sun… But you wouldn’t recognize our world from 40 or 50 years ago.” He referred to recent inventions such as the microwave oven.
Morris unveiled a cast of “dinky” cartoon characters, showing pictures of them.
Within two weeks, Morris said she hopes to have a decision from ABC-TV concerning the fate of the cartoon “dinks” who can fly and shrink by using “shrinky dust.”