Make: DIY 80s Sunglasses and Shutter Shades

Grab your shutter shades…we’re headed back to the future! In case you missed it, we’re spending a whole week crafting to the 80s with some friends (you can check out the entire post list of 80s crafts here) and having the time of our lives. 😉 I thought the best way to start off this throwback theme week was to send everyone back a few decades with some time-travel-y, technicolor vision in the form of wearable DIY 80s sunglasses.

Three pairs of DIY eighties shutter shades sitting flat on a white background

All of you younger Millenials may recognize shutter shades from Kanye West’s Stronger, but as a gen x-er (right on the cusp!) *I* remember them as a distinctly ’80s trend. Wild frame shapes and colorful lenses were all the rage – for a good example, google Mesach Taylor’s “Hollywood” character in Mannequin. Though the movie does NOT hold up (ahhhhh, so much cringe!) the outrageous ’80s sunglasses style is ALWAYS fun.

If you ever wore pom-pom socks, pulled your hair back in a banana clip, accessorized with a tee-shirt clip, or rocked a pair of moon boots, these ’80s shades will take you right back (and are SO much fun for a new generation to discover!).

Three pairs of DIY eighties shutter shades sitting flat on a white background

Inspired by those old ’80s movies, music videos from MTV’s golden years, and old-style trends that are new again, we made a whole set of throwback DIY sunglasses: new wave asymmetrical frames, thin Star Trek-style Cyclops glasses, and classic 80s shutter shades. Wicked bonus? They’re a great way to upcycle a used cereal box!

For a full retro experience, craft a set of your own to Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night or our 80s week playlist on Spotify.

To make your own 80s sunglasses you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • A cereal box or piece of thin cardboard
  • Scissors or an X-Acto knife
  • Acrylic or tempera paint & a brush
  • Glue or tape
  • Our ’80s Sunglasses Frames Template with 3 different design options

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Colored transparency sheets (like these)
  • Washi or duct tape (to use this instead of paint)
  • Cut shapes or other embellishments
  • Glitter (totally radical – but use at your own risk – ha!)

Note: This is an awesome way to have fun with some to-be-recycled bits & pieces you may have around the house, so fire up your imagination and channel your innermost eighties shade-wearing self! Glasses (and the general style of the 80s) were WILD, so anything goes – what can you recycle and add to your shades for that extra touch of 80s?

The simple craft supplies you'll need to make our throwback shutter shades.

Cardboard 80s Shutter Shade Sunglasses Instructions:

  1. Print our 80s shades frame template pages and cut out

    Print out our frame templates on a cereal box (if your printer can handle it!) or pieces of 8.5 x 11 paper (be sure to choose “borderless printing” in your print options) and cut them out. There are 3 different options for designs, so pick your favorites and cut along the lines with scissors or an X-Acto knife.
    Kids will have a total blast crafting 3 pairs of bodacious 80's-inspired sunglasses out of an upcycled cereal box and paint! Free templates included.

  2. Trace the template pieces onto a cereal box and cut out

    Lay the template onto your cereal box pieces & trace around it. I actually found out (and this was REALLY exciting) that I could put the cereal box side RIGHT through my printer – if you’re able to do that as well, you can skip the entire stencil-making step and simply cut the side of a cereal box down to fit through your printer.

  3. Cut out all pieces

    Cut out your glasses with scissors and an X-Acto knife.
    Kids will have a total blast crafting 3 pairs of bodacious 80's-inspired sunglasses out of an upcycled cereal box and paint! Free templates included.

  4. Prime pieces with gesso or white paint

    This is an optional step – I wanted our colors to look EXTRA bold, so I painted all of our pieces with a thin layer of gesso (white acrylic paint would work too) first. It takes about 15 minutes to dry, and I thought it was worth the step.
    Kids will have a total blast crafting 3 pairs of bodacious 80's-inspired sunglasses out of an upcycled cereal box and paint! Free templates included.

  5. Paint with assorted colors

    These need some radical colors – maybe even patterns! You can paint your glasses one color, choose a couple, paint the sides a different color, or create a pattern! We used paint, but you can also cover your pieces with duct/washi tape or patterned paper. Neons, pastels, animal prints, metallics, and geometric shapes were ALL super hot in the eighties.
    Kids will have a total blast crafting 3 pairs of bodacious 80's-inspired sunglasses out of an upcycled cereal box and paint! Free templates included.

  6. Add transparent “lenses”

    This is the perfect time to add a super cool colored “lens” to your glasses. Cut out a strip of transparency, trim it to fit your glasses, and glue it to the back of your frames. Now you’re ready to see in technicolor!
    Kids will have a total blast crafting 3 pairs of bodacious 80's-inspired sunglasses out of an upcycled cereal box and paint! Free templates included.

  7. Assemble glasses with glue

    Make sure your glasses are going to be the right size to fit on your head! If they’re too long you can trim a bit off the square sides – if they’re too short, you can cut a couple of rectangle “extension” pieces out of your cereal box and glue them on! Glue or tape the sides of your glasses to the main eyepiece once you’re sure they’ll be a perfect fit.
    Kids will have a total blast crafting 3 pairs of bodacious 80's-inspired sunglasses out of an upcycled cereal box and paint! Free templates included.

  8. Add finishing details

    The 1980s were ALLLLL about excess, so if you want to add glitter, scribble it up, or glue some extra shapes onto your shades, go for it, Ace! Geometric shapes were really popular, but if there was ever a decade that would encourage you to go all out and TOTALLY make it your own, it was the eighties!
    Three pairs of DIY eighties shutter shades sitting flat on a white background

Once you’ve finished, turn on your favorite 80s playlist, slip on your shutter shades, give yourself the once-over (2 enthusiastic thumbs up!) and invite your friends over for a dance party (okay, that’s what I did – you don’t have to, but it’s kind of just what happens once you put the glasses on…).

Kids will have a total blast crafting a  pair of bodacious 80s-inspired shutter shades out of an upcycled cereal box and paint! Three different templates for 80s sunglasses available! | from barley & birch

TOTALLY TUBULAR 80s TIP: Wanna go all-in on the eighties theme? You can make any of your own 3-D glasses by gluing  (1) red & (1) blue transparency pieces to the left and right eyeholes of your glasses!

Kids will have a total blast crafting 3 pairs of bodacious 80's-inspired sunglasses out of an upcycled cereal box and paint!

For another summer-y recycled art project, turn recycled supplies into your own DIY mini food trucks, make some cool pool art with scrap supplies, or use bubble wrap as a tool to create a colorful cereal box chameleon stick puppet.


*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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