3 Upcycle Crafts to Make with Metal Cans

Your recycling bin may seem like a boring smorgasbord of metal and cardboard, but in reality, those blue bins are full of secret crafting supplies. Cans from foods and drinks—for example—are versatile and sturdy, making them especially workable with paint, glue, and other tools. While staying at home or the cabin this summer, try to repurpose and upcycle metal cans with these 3 crafts.

First: Take the paper labels off of your cans and throw those in the recycling bin. Get some soapy water and thoroughly wash the cans. Be careful of sharp edges, especially if you’re crafting with kids!

Upcycled tin cans craft

Note: All of these projects are unique to each person who does them. Add some individuality by adding glitter, ribbon or other fun craft supplies. Think outside the box (and the can!)

Tip: Metal cans are something that can also be recycled easily. If you still have leftover cans after doing these crafts, be sure to put the extras in the recycling. Check your city or town’s regulations about recycling to make sure their facility recycles cans so you’re doing the best thing for the environment.

1. Pencil Holders

Upcycled tin cans as pencil holders

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Metal Cans
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes

Step 1: Paint your cans with different colours, patterns and shapes. That’s it! Two coats of paint will allow the colours to be brighter and bolder.

recycled metal can crafts

2. Plant Pots

Upcycled tin cans as planters

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pop Cans
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes​

Step 1: Cut the top off the can off with scissors. This can easily be done by puncturing the metal at the top of the side of the can, inserting scissors, and cutting around the whole top.

Step 2: Paint your can. You can do different colour schemes or keep it simple, depending on where you want to put it, or what is going inside. You may want to do a second coat of paint if the print on the can still show through the first coat.

Step 3: Add soil and your plant. Add water and place it in a sunny location. Enjoy!

3. Lanterns

Upcycled metal cans as lanterns

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Metal cans
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • 1 nail

Step 1: Paint your cans. You can add colours for a bright pop, or metallic to add shine, or a natural tone for more of a neutral colour. You may want to add a second layer of paint, depending on how well your paint takes to the metal.

Step 2: Using a pencil, mark the places you want to perforate on the can. You may want to create patterns or shapes, or keep it simple.

Step 3: Place the tip of the nail on the mark and hammer so the nail goes through the metal. Continue doing this to create the holes of your lantern.

Step 4: Add a tea light or two and enjoy!

Reusing and recycling items for your crafting is environmentally friendly and cost-effective. Let these metal can crafts inspire you to see new possibilities in the other items in your recycling bin for creative projects.

Learn more about this special paper made by Botanical PaperWorks that uses post-consumer materials and is embedded with seeds so that it will grow when planted!

You can buy seed paper sheets for eco-friendly papercraft projects from Botanical PaperWorks. We have a variety of seed options, including wildflower, herb and veggie, and over 25 seed paper colors. Join our mailing list to receive emails with freebies, projects, coupons, green living tips, and decor ideas and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest


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