Craft: Tin Can Embossing

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Now that Christmas is passed, I have been able to take photographs and prepare the steps for you to follow for a great new craft!  I love recycling, and any craft that is practical; I don’t like to make things just to have them stand around.  Here is something you can do for next Christmas, or use this idea to create wind chimes, window decorations, front door decorations, gift decorations, or anywhere else you’d like a unique touch.

Upcycled Embossed Tin Cans


A light-weight tin can (Soda or beer)

Scissors (dedicate a pair to metal cutting)

A straight-edge knife (be careful not to cut yourself!)

Embossing tools (if you don’t have something like the blue “pen” pictured, you can use a simple ballpoint pen, pressing less hard or you may slice through the tin)

Baking paper for transferring a design, or a cardboard template (as shown)

A piece of foam rubber or a magazine to give yourself a “spongy” base on which to press designs into the metal.  (Pictured below is a piece of black craft foam.)

A strip of fine sandpaper to smooth any cut edges required.

A hole punch

Paint (optional):  Choose a paint that bonds well with smooth metal; the best I’ve found is the touch-up colours for cars; fingernail polish might work as well.  Acrylic paint does not stick well to the smooth surface.


[Always cut metal AWAY from your face! The best would be to wear safety goggles, if you have them.]

1)  Start with a well-rinsed & dried can

2)  Using a straight knife, cut along the position of the red-dotted line in the photograph above; that is, at the top and bottom of the body of the can.  Cut as far around as you can; you may finish it off with scissors if you wish.

3)  Using your scissors, trim rough edges and round off the corners to avoid injury through metal slivers.

4) to “unroll” the metal, rub it smoothly over the edge of a table a few times.

5) If you want, save the tab and trimmed base of the can for other projects (as illustrated above).

I’ve seen it recommended that you first sand the patterned side of the can down to the tin layer; I’ve never bothered to do this, and it works fine; it’s sometimes a bit more difficult to see the tracing lines (depending on the drink can’s pattern), but not so difficult that I would add that step to the work!

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For Christmas Decorations:

On the silver side, trace your stencil or pattern through the baking paper, or do a free-hand pattern.  You could also roll a pattern onto the tin using a cuttlebug stencil (I don’t have a machine; I just use the stencils with a kitchen rolling pin).

Once you have your design (not too tight), turn the tin over and trace on both sides of each line; this will give it depth and dimension.  Repeat front and back as often as you need to, to get a clear, neat design.

You can cut the shape out (and sand down the edges lightly) either before or after you begin tracing.

At this point, you can paint the patterned side if you want.  Once it’s dry (fairly quickly with the car-paints), punch a hole in it and string or hook it however you want.

These make great gift-wrapping decorations, but you could also make wine charmers, napkin rings, anything you want!  The only limitation is your imagination & a Pinterest search! 🙂

Tool - Doming Block

If you get bit by the embossing bug, you might want to invest in a doming block set; this will give you a wide range of possibilities, and it can be used in e.g. jewelry-making or prop embellishments as well.

For a link to my own Pinterest board for tin can ideas, just click here.

One thought on “Craft: Tin Can Embossing

  1. […] Our Christmas decorations are otherwise modest, nothing too flashy, but we have taken the North American tradition of Christmas stockings to heart.  I am gradually replacing our store-bought decorations with handmade ones; I make them from recycled drink cans and a bit of embossing ingenuity (For that process, click here). […]

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