How To Make a Tin Can Lantern

Looking for ways to spruce up your patio, backyard or garden party with low or no cost at all? Do you see the front porch a gloomy place that needs some lightening up? How about easy-to-make, super cheap tin can lanterns?

  • What you need: A pot or basin of hot soapy water, opened up soup, vegetable, or coffee cans with their covers discarded (or any open rust-free can you can find), tongs, a pair of pliers, ribbon/twine, hammer, various sized nails/screws, towel, steel scrub or rough side of sponge for cleaning, freezer space, candles.
  • Prepare your materials. Line up the opened up cans. Inspect for any poking, sharp edges. If any sharp edges show up on the rims of the cans, crimp them inward with a pair of pliers. Submerge the cans into a pot of hot soapy water. Once you notice the labels fall off, take them out with tongs and scrub them with a rough sponge or steel scrub until they are clean of the sticky labels. Rinse in running water. Pour water into cans three-fourths full and place them in the freezer.
  • Design your pattern. As soon as the ice forms solidly, take the cans out of the freezer and place them on a towel laid on a level surface. An example would be a solid wooden table or concrete slab. Use the towel to provide a firm grip as well as protection for any accidental slipping. Don’t worry about the ease of hammering. The nails should go smoothly as the ice makes the cans more stable. With a marker, dot or draw the pattern directly. You may choose to transfer the pattern by covering the whole surface of the cans with the drawn out pattern and dotting heavily with a marker to transfer to the cans. You can also do freehand patterns. Use different sizes of nails to achieve various lighting effects. The smaller the nails, the subtler the stream of light, while bigger sized nails will make your tin cans glow more. Just remember to make sure you put enough holes in so the light can shine through!
    After punching in the pattern, place two holes—one on each opposite side of the rim of the cans. Use a big nail. These will serve as holes for the ribbon or twine to pass through for the cans you wish to hang. Leave finished cans on the sink for the ice to melt. 
  • Finishing touches. Once the ice has melted take the cans out from the sink or basin and shake out any excess water and towel dry. With a pair of scissors, cut a strip of ribbon or twine approximately 6” to 8” long, depending on how low you want to hang your lighted tin lanterns. Pass ribbons or twines through the opposite holes you made for the cans you wish to hang and tie a knot in the end securely. Place the candles of your choice in each can. Situate in strategic, dark nooks and crannies and light up! Now how about that as a creative way to up-cycle? That and at the same time adding something unique to your place that could have been thrown out as worthless garbage in the first place.


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