Tin Can Lanterns Tutorial

I love summer and I love that I finally have a backyard to have parties in!  I made these tin can lanterns for a 4th of July party and they looked so lovely that I thought I would write a tutorial to share with you all.  

Tin Can Lanterns Tutorial by Elise Engh Studios

So follow the tutorial below to get started making your own lanterns for your own outdoor summer party!
Materials:
recycled tin cans
hammer
nail
bailing wire
pliers
tea light candle or mini LED candle
spray paint : Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Paint in Blue Ocean Breeze  and Green)


Step 1:  Remove labels and glue from the cans.  I've found WD-40 to be very helpful with removing the glue.

Step 2:  Fill cans with water and stick them in the freezer.  Leave them in until the ice is solid.  This helps the can hold its shape for the next steps.

DIY Party Lights:How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)

Step 3:  Take your frozen can out of the freezer. Using a hammer and nail, pound a hole near the top of the can.  Flip the can over and make another hole straight across from the first hole.  These will be used for the handle later on.
How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)

Step 4:  Make your design.  Use the hammer and nail to start punching out a design in your can.  You can draw it our before hand or wing it.  Either way, they turn out nicely.

DIY Party Lights:How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)

Step 5:  Once your design is all finished, let the ice melt out of the can and dry it out.

DIY Party Lights:How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)


Step 6:  Upon turning the can over, you'll notice a big bulge in the bottom.  This comes from freezing water in it.  But, it can be fixed!  Just pound it down with a hammer so that it sits flat.
DIY Party Lights:How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)

Step 7:  Time to make a handle.  Cut a 12 inch strip of bailing wire and curve the end of it to form a hook.  Stick the hook through one of the top side holes.
DIY Party Lights:How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)

Step 8:  Twist the hook around to secure it.  Make a hook on the other end of the wire.  Stick it in the side hole on the other side and twist it around.  There's your handle!
Tin Can Lanterns

Step 9: Time for some spray paint!  Paint several coats on to cover the entire outside of the can and handle. 

DIY Party Lights:How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)

Step 10:  Once the paint is dry, insert tea light candles and light them up! You're all ready to go!
DIY Party Lights:How to make Tin Can Lanterns from soup cans (Grow Creative)

Tutorial and photos are property of Elise Engh Studios (https://www.eliseenghstudios.com/2012/07/tin-can-lanterns-tutorial.html).  Please do not copy without permission. thank you.


69 comments:

  1. Oh so romantic decoration for the garden. I am having just a balcony, but I guess it would be lovely also there :) I am pinning this idea!!

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  2. Love those! So simple and cute.

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  3. So pretty! Thank you for sharing your tutorial! :)

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  4. These look awesome - & so easy! Thanks for sharing your project - visiting from Craftionary link up :)

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  5. Love the colors you painted the cans. So cute! Visiting from Shabby Nest.

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  6. These are SO lovely!! What a fun project. I'm adding this to my To-Do List on pinterest : )

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  7. These are awesome! I was just telling my son today that we need some color out in the backyard! I'd love to make a bunch of these and hang them on the fence!

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  8. Those are amazing! Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial. I'm pinning it right now. :) Enjoy!
    Megan

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  9. Oh, these are lovely! I love the idea of taking something you'd normally throw out and turn it into something beautiful! So creative. :)

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  10. These are so creative and resourceful! I love the colors. I found your link on THe Shabby Creek Cottage and I am now following you.

    Have a great weekend!

    Angela

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  11. such a great idea!! love how it turned out!

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  12. I have always loved these type of lanterns. I think painting them aqua and lime took them to a whole new level.

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  13. THese are so lovely! I would love to feature this on Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks.

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  14. Very interesting idea! Thanks for the hint with frozen water;)

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  15. Love it. Was looking for something to do with my grandkids during the holidays and this is just what I was looking for. Something we can do together, something light so they can take it back on the plane and something we can make personal. Thanks for the fab idea.

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  16. What a fun way to light up a summer evening! Love them!

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  17. Love this idea - fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  18. I love these! Lanterns are so fun and the colors you picked are darling! Stopping by from TT&J - Have a great weekend!

    Amanda

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  19. Lovely! I must do this, now to collect enough cans ..

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  20. Freezing the can to hold its shape was very clever!

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  21. Awesome! I tried making one recently but it was so tough trying to keep the can from bending, I couldn't find anything to stay in the can as I hammered.......NEVER thought of Ice....Awesome, thank you!!! :)

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  22. This is such a fun and economical idea! Thank you for linking to my party!

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  23. To keep the bottom of the can from bulging out, put 2 or 3 inches of water in the can and let that freeze, then top off the can and freeze again.

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  24. A friend just sent me the link to your fantastic tin can lantern tutorial. I can't wait to make some and am already planning what meals I can make to use maximum tin cans!! Your blog is fabulous!

    Leah

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  25. I made an owl can lantern 10 years ago when whooooing my now husband (pardon the pun). I kept the can silver, but painted the inside gold to add extra glow. Love the handles idea! I am making these for Independence Day, too!

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  26. Hi this is Katie from the Progresso Facebook team. We love your tin can lantern post and we want to share it with our community! Do we have your permission to post a link to your blog on our Facebook page? Please let us know by replying in this thread. Thank you!

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  27. Sure, Katie. That would be just fine with me.

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  28. @Katie It's funny as soon as I saw this posted, I instantly saw the Progresso commercial with the lady using the cans as curlers in my head.

    Elise, wonderful idea! Maybe use citronella candles come spring and summer to help out with night time parties :)

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  29. Such a cute idea! Popping over from Craftberry Bush link party.

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  30. They look amazing....I tried this one year and we failed miserably, not sure what I was doing wrong but the cans did not hold their shape at all even though I did freeze them....yours turned out beautiful...thank you so much for sharing..I will try again this year...xo

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  31. These are gorgeous! I am going to start collecting can now. If you get a chance, please link this to my linky party: http://suburbsmama.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunday-linky-party-4.html

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  32. If you have a dremel tool or any kind of flexible shaft, you can use a burr or a very small metal drillbit and you will not need the ice.

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  33. Niki, yes the cans do have sharp edges on the insides if you try this technique. You have to be careful when putting candles inside them. I haven't tried drilling the holes with an actual drill, but maybe you would have fewer sharp edges that way.

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  34. These are so whimsical for a summer's eve. Thanks for the great tutorial. For those who asked about sharp bits on the inside of the can, I've found that placing votives inside small-mouthed jars and other tight squeezes is easier (and safer, in this case) if you use tongs.

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  35. This comment is a little late but thought it might help others or you, with any future lanterns (not sure if anyone else already gave this little tip yet either!!)- fill your can with sand prior to adding the water and placing in the freezer! It will prevent your can from bulging during the water expansion process :0)

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  36. I love everything about these tin cans!!!

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  37. I love everything about these tin cans!!!

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  38. Awesome idea! I'll definately give it a go :)

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  39. Awesome idea! Im going to make some and paint them in fall colors! !

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  40. That's a great idea. I usually recycle cans and use jars for projects but I will definitely give it a try. Thanks!

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  41. Instead of bail wire, how about the wire from hangers?

    The wire hangers from dry cleaners, these days, are usually two 12" wires wound together.

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  42. I travel in a RV and these are easy to transport as they are unbreakable. I use electric tea lights from the dollar store so as not to start fires.

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  43. love the idea of freezing with the water so the can stays in shape--definitely need to make some freezer room--or maybe it will get cold enough here again & I can just freeze them outside! good winter project for hopefully spring if it ever gets here!!

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    1. there was an earlier post about only put in a couple of inches of water, freeze it and then fill up and your can bottom won't bulge

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  44. I made my first one last weekend,just need to concentrate on one pattern per can lol

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  45. Do you paint all of the inside of the can too? Do you have to use a specific sort of paint? Cheers, Claire :-)

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  46. I did this year's ago and made jack-o-lanterns. I like this idea because it can be used all year.

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  47. Use LED tealights - then you won't have issues with candle wax running out and they typically have the same "flicker" candles do.

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  48. Question-I want to make these for an elderly relative. How do I keep the cans from having the sharp metal sticking out in the inside of the can after I make the holes? thanks!!

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    1. Good question! I haven't figured out a way to make these without having some sharp metal on the inside. If you are really concerned, you could try a filing the sharp edges down with a metal file. Good luck!

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  49. drill it with a drill bit and you wont have the burrs inside

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  50. Hard to believe this has a copyright - I have been making these my whole life and my mother did before me. mother would be 79 this year. how old is the copyright?

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    1. I never said I copyrighted the idea. The photos and the written tutorial on this blog, however, are mine. I did create those and they are copyrighted!

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  51. Hi, is it ok to pin this idea? I can just bookmark the page if it's not, I just find it easier to pin things :) They're lovely, it's a great tutorial, easy to understand. Can't wait to get started!

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    1. Yes! Pinning is fine- in fact, I encourage it! Thank you for asking!

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  52. very cute and creative! I may try and make these for a outdoor party!

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  53. Hi Elise, I love your Tin Can Lanterns. I started making these as a 19 year old (46 years ago). A couple of things I do might be helpful to others; I always begin making the holes further up, that way nothing inside leaks out or seeps out. I put sand in the bottom of mine (I don't use candles anymore) then I add the LED Tealights and I've also popped the tops of Solar yard lights off and used in them (you have to make sure they are small enough to fit in the cans and put them in the sunlight. I've also drilled larger entry and exit holes and strung Christmas lights in them for my patio. I like to use different sized cans and make grouping with them for around my hot tub and pool area. I have secured them to PVC poles and sprayed and decorated them to look like Tiki Lights (I just use the store bought ones now, but this was fun when they were't available in stores). I always use tongs to lower the lights onto the sand inside my cans. I spray paint inside and out if I'm making the cans a color and I always box them and bring them inside if I'm not using them daily (so they last longer). Hope this was helpful for someone.

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    1. Wow! Thanks for all the awesome tips! You are the tin-can-lantern expert. How did you secure your cans to the pvc poles? I love that idea!

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  54. Hi Elise!
    I love these! I know I'm commenting a lot later but I found your website! Do you have any suggestions for finding simple templates for the design? On the internet and Pinterest etc. I've found a lot of very detailed designs and I just want some simple flowers (however an artist I am not)!! Any suggestions are appreciated!
    Erica

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    1. You could maybe find a simple small picture in a Google search and print it off. Tapr it to your can and follow it as a template!

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  55. Great idea I will try it looks fun

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  56. Love these! Has anyone tried using smaller cans (like tomato paste comes in) and drilling a hole to fit around large-bulb Christmas lights? I have strands of C5 or C7 lights around my deck and would love to try covering them with these, minus the handles. Any thoughts?

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  57. This is a great idea! I'm going to make some and take on my camping trip. They will add a little romance to the camping site!

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