Tin Can Crafts: Make Your Own Recycled Luminaries

I love a good upcycle. It’s satisfying in so many ways; upcycling is inexpensive, it’s eco-friendly, and you use your imagination to envision something in a different way.

And tin cans are such a multi-purpose item. I thought it was fitting that they be repurposed into tin can crafts: DIY luminaries for Earth Day.

Tin-can-crafts-luminaries-Crafts-UnleashedPatio season is just around the corner. What better way to dress up your outdoor space than with these incredibly easy and inexpensive luminaries?

Supplies needed to make your own tin can crafts:supply2

I had a lot of fun playing with paints on these tin can crafts. I tried an ombre look, and some solid colours. I found that I needed at least two coats of paint to cover the tins. But I didn’t get TOO fussy, knowing that they were going to be outdoor lighting. I like things to be a little bit imperfect when they’re outdoor decor.

In order to preserve the paint, I coated every tin with Mod Podge Outdoor. I love this stuff! It’s so handy for quickly water-proofing a surface – especially if you can’t break out the spray paint sealants.

Tin-can-crafts-luminaries-Crafts-Unleashed-3Once the Mod Podge has dried, you need to break out these babies.

These are my new favourite craft gadgets. They are Crop-A-Dile power punches and they are wonderful. They will punch through paper, fabric, leather, and metal – and they do it like it’s no big thing. They transformed these tins into luminaries in mere minutes.

Tin-can-crafts-luminaries-Crafts-Unleashed-4The 1/4″ inch punch makes a nice fat little polka dot. It’s a great size for letting a lot of light out of the tin can crafts.

Tin-can-crafts-luminaries-Crafts-Unleashed-5The 1/16th inch punch makes the smaller holes, as seen on the luminary to the left hand side. Both punches are easy to work with on the tin can crafts. They quickly swiss-cheese the can into a gorgeous light show.

Tin-can-crafts-luminaries-Crafts-Unleashed-6And if you’d like to make these luminaries a light in the air, you can add a wire handle to them. Using a length of metal craft wire, create a handle by slipping each end through holes on the sides of the can. Use your flat nosed pliers to wrap the wire around itself for a clean look.

Tin-can-crafts-luminaries-Crafts-Unleashed-7These hanging lanterns can be placed in trees or carried around. How cute would these be as a camping craft for the kidlets? Pop in a battery operated tea-light, and you’ve got a safe and beautiful “glamping” project!

Tin-can-crafts-luminaries-Crafts-Unleashed-2Don’t let those tin cans sit unloved in the recycling bin. Turn them into tin can crafts patio decor! And when you get your own set of Crop-A-Diles, tell me about it. We could start a fan club together!


About Tara

Tara is the creator, writer, and flurry of chaos behind her blog, Suburble. Her blog focuses on making a home (emphasis on "making!"), but not forgetting to have a laugh in the process. Her partners-in-crime, her two little girls, are often beside her when it's time to get creative. A mug of tea, good friends, and a project (or three) are all this girl needs. Join the gang at Suburble and see what we're up to!


  1. says

    Tara, I love this!

    I’m starting to colllect my cans, to create my Fall luminaries. I already picked my colors: Plum, Black, Burnt Orange, Cranberry red, Mustard Yellow, and Brown.

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. says

    I have access to so many of these cans and should totally do this! Too cute! Thank you for linking up with #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup 6/21/15

  3. says

    These are TOO cute! I love them and I can get quite some Tin Cans around here to make some! Thanks for the awesome inspiration!

  4. says

    These are precious! Thanks for the idea.

    By the way, I would love to have you post on my new blog hop—the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home (www.myflagstaffhome.com). It begins on Thursday evenings and lasts through the weekend, if you’re interested.


  5. Ellen says

    Thanks for the idea. I love this and will be making some! I would just like to add, I’ll be putting something (not sure what, yet – a strip of glue?) around the top cut edge of the can for protection from the sharp edge – especially around children!

  6. Teri Hughes says

    How did you get the ombre look? Did you use a little white paint mixed with water over the solid colors? I love these! And I bought the Crop-A-Diles yesterday, so I’m set. I was so excited to start using them that I made a batch of chili for dinner last night, just so I could have the empty cans for luminaries! hee hee

  7. JaneEllen says

    As soon as I finished reading your post I had to go raid the recycle bag for couple of soup cans, perfect size for a luminaria. I don’t have cropodiles but can get hubs to drill some holes for me in them using different sized drill bits. Hmmm what colors shall I use?. Love idea of doing ombre colors. Think I’ll hang them from our front porch railings. Will have to watch for more cans I can use.
    Love your luminarias, great colors and cheerful addition to a porch or hang on a tree and recycle also.

    • says

      I’m so glad that you saved those tin cans from the recycling bin! I, too, am starting a little hoard of cans now – I can imagine how fabulous a whole collection of these would be – perhaps lining porch stairs, or along a fence rail?

      I love funky lighting! So glad you do too, JaneEllen!


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