Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DIY Tin Can Lanterns

Today I have a budget savvy DIY that I guarantee will add the perfect touch of ambiance to your rustic-chic wedding! I couldn't be more excited to share this DIY with you all because it is not only super inexpensive but beyond simple to make, no special tools or materials necessary! 

What you will need:

Tin Cans

Step 1: Collect a range of various sized tin cans and carefully detach the lids. Be sure to clean the cans of any remaining food remnants and soak to remove the labels.

Tip: Apply some Goo Gone to the sticky stuff still on the can and it should come right off!

Step 2: Fill the cans with water and freeze.

Tip: I got a little too excited and started on my cans before completely frozen, so I recommend leaving them to freeze overnight to ensure they are fully frozen!

Step 3: Remove one can at a time from freezer and place on a towel.  Using a marker draw out a dotted pattern of your choice. Be creative, anything from hearts, monograms, to table numbers will look beautiful!

Step 4: Using a hammer and nail punch out the pattern.

Tip: Begin nailing at the bottom of the can; as you get towards the top ice tends to start chipping away.  Also, ice will start to melt around the edges so you may need to put the can you are working on back in the freezer for a bit and begin on another can. 

Step 5: Once you have completed the patterns, place the frozen cans in the sink to thaw and wash off any visible marker.  

Tip: Running hot water over your can will help speed up the melting process!

Step 6: Add a votive to cans and light!

 Tin lanterns, or "pierced wear" were hugely popular during the Colonial era.  Sometimes even referred to as "poor man's silver" due to the inexpensiveness of the material. So for a present day bride on a budget, history will attest that this is a fabulous bargain as well as a gorgeous table topper!


Source: Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics
Source: Ruffled


  1. I've tried this before and the ice deformed my cans. I tried again with different cans- less water, warm water, ice water- to no avail. The bottoms always ballooned out. It was ok because I strung them up, but any idea why? I'd like to try again for Halloween!

  2. Randi, That is a great question and to be honest I have no idea! For my cans I used Campbell's and they worked out fine! It may have to do with the time left in the freezer? I kept mine in for about 12 hours. Let me know how they work out if you try again for Halloween!

    Best of luck! XO

  3. So easy and fun!! Thanks for the tutorial. :)

  4. These are great! Fun project to tackle with my daughter on a grey fall day at home. Thanks!

  5. I read online to fill them with sand first, then add water as this reduces the swelling of the can when frozen. Maybe try that?

  6. It does work better with sand. Fill the can with sand, add water, and place it in the freezer. The frozen mixture will give structure to the can and a surface against which to pound, so that the can does not become misshapen. Water expands significantly when frozen and will cause the can to swell if used without the sand. Filling the cans with sand first, then water, greatly reduces the amount of water in the can, minimizing the expansion.
    I have made some for my wedding to decorate the trees and all around the marquee :)

  7. i was woundering if you could use a drill with a small bit inplace of a hammer and nail.