How to Make Punched Tin Lanterns

We spend a lot of time outside once it finally gets warm and I am always looking for ideas to decorate outdoors.  I love making punched tin lanterns, they are easy to make, economical, and really pretty.

To get started you will need:

a variety of tin cans, washed out and labels removed, a hammer, a towel, different sized nails, screw drivers, metal punches, a marker, and spray paint/acrylic paint.tin can lantern 1Fill the cans with water and freeze overnight, the ice will support the can while the metal is punched.  Don’t fill the cans completely full.  I’m sure you know that water expands when it freezes, I forgot this simple fact and froze several cans into my freezer the first time I made these.tin can lantern 2Using a marker I traced a design on to my can.  You can also freehand you design or make a paper template from the label of the can.  It is best to keep it simple, swirls and geometric shapes look great, I’ve even seen jack-o-lantern faces for Halloween and they were super cute.tin can lantern 3Use your hammer and a nail, screwdriver, or metal punch to punch holes in you can.  Laying the can on a folded towel muffles the sound, keeps the can from rolling and soaks up melting ice.  Work from the bottom to the top because once you start punching near the top the ice will start to break and the can will dent more.  The bottom of this can bowed out a bit, but once I had removed the ice I just hammered it back in.tin can lantern 4I like to punch a few holes in the bottom, so if these are left out in the rain the water can drain.  I also like to weight them down with a little gravel or river rocks, I hate chasing after candles holders and lawn furniture when a storm blows in!tin can lantern 5Let the ice melt and thoroughly dry you cans to prepare for painting.  I like to paint my cans with flat black spray paint, but the color is up to you, I’ve seen some painted in a rainbow of colors and swirls and they were stunning (acrylic paints would be better for a rainbow effect, you would also want to seal them for extra protection).tin can lantern 6On the smaller can (on the left) the ice softened faster and the punches I made with the phillips screwdriver are more diamond shaped.  For a more pronounced X shape use a hard frozen can.

I hope everyone has a great time making punched tin can lanterns, let me know if you have any questions.  Make sure to share links to photos of your own lanterns in the comments, I’d love to see what everyone comes up with. 

***Disclaimer*** please use common sense when burning candles, blah, blah, blah don’t leave unattended, yada, yada, yada.  The candle holders may get very hot, use caution, oh and if they are left sitting in the same spot all summer they may leave a rust ring.


Sandra @ Pepperberry and Co. said...

They look so great lit up! Nice project- ta\hanks for sharing :-)

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Very pretty, I'll be linking to this. I also love your disclaimer. =)

crafterella said...

YW Sandra, thanks for visiting ;-)

Rachel, I always feel a little silly using disclaimers, but then I also feel it is necessary for that one percent of the population!

Flassie's Fil'a said...

OH, very pretty! I made these years ago around Christmas time.

I was thinking about the
outside lights people had
up at Christmas time while
I was looking at all the plants
and trees in bloom right now,
while on my walk today.

These would be so fun for outside,
in the summertime.

I like you disclaimer too.

God Bless You and Yours!!!


Anonymous said...


Awesome tute! I'm totally going to do this project. I've linked to it on my blog, The Handmade Experiment. Check it out at http://emilyflippinmaruna.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/must-have-monday-tutorials-and-handmade-items-to-make-your-el-cinco-de-mayo-a-hit/

Thanks again,

Little Black Car said...

I used to make these in First Day School, back in the days when people didn't shy from allowing children to make crafts that involved hammers and sharp implements.

Also, (I swear I don't work for them): LED tea lights. Less, folksy, yes, but also less fire hazard.