Introduction: Happy Can People

Picture of Happy Can People

We needed cute decorations for a Cub Scout/ Boy Scout Banquet. The theme was "We Are all Different, but the Same," so we wanted something to represent the diversity of scouting. After bending a soda can one day, I decided it resembled a face with a large mouth. I decided that these cans would make a great assortment of "Singing People". Each unique Can Person has different hair, skin tones, clothes etc. Some are in uniforms, others are dressed as family members, but you could dress them as sports players, scientists, clowns, or whatever you'd like.

Step 1: Getting Started Tools and Supplies

Picture of Getting Started Tools and Supplies
First decide how many "Can People" you will be making. You will need at least one (1) can for each guest or a few extra for table decorations.
You may need help from family and friends to collect enough cans.

Supplies you'll need are:
  • Drink cans
  • Fabric scraps
  • Needle & thread
  • Glossy acrylic paints for "bodies," assorted colors (Depending on how your dressing your people)
  • Flat Paints for flesh tones - beige, browns, pinks etc...
  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Glue gun (remember don't let the kids use without supervision)
  • Yarns, cotton balls etc... (Anything that would make hair. Use your imagination. Almost anything will do.)
  • Googly eyes assorted sizes
  • Permanent Markers for outlining
  • Old lip-sticks for cheek color (blush)

Step 2: Remove Tabs and Bend Cans

Picture of Remove Tabs and Bend Cans

You'll need to remove the pull tabs to make the face a tiny bit more realistic. Then, you must wash the cans, and let them drain upside down for a day or so to dry out.

To get the shape of the body, bend the cans slightly underneath the can opening.
Your can person will look as though they are bending at the waist with their mouths wide open.

Step 3: Painting

Picture of Painting

Hint: I painted the main clothes then let my helpers do the detailing.

Paint clothes on each can according to your theme. Theme ideas could be boy scouts, girls scouts, sports, choirs-singers, and other endless ideas.

Paint the top of the cans a flesh tone.

If you would like to add hands, be sure to paint them in. We'll add fingers with a marker later on.

Step 4: Add Details

Picture of Add Details

Use your marker to draw in details like: hair, ties, hands, scarves, sleeves, pant lines etc....

You can also add on some props if you would like. I added some flags to my little scouts. Just poke a hole into the can, and add some tacky glue to hold the flag in place. Doll or Action Figure accessories would make good props for your can people.

You can use a hot glue gun on these cans, but you have to be careful. The metal will pick up the heat really quick, and the cans could get too hot to touch. Tacky glue works really well.

Step 5: Sewing a Cape, Robe, or Skirt

Picture of Sewing a Cape, Robe, or Skirt
If you want your Can Person to have a "Fabric Accessory" , you'll have to make it. Using a needle and thread, make a simple gather stitch. Keep in mind if you want a "full" cape, you will need a surprisingly large piece of fabric (about 18 inches will do). This step could also be done on the sewing machine loose stitches gather easily.

  • Gather Stitch
To sew a gather stitch for this project, first tie a knot in the end of your thread. Space your stitches about half (.5) of an inch out. Alternate going into the fabric, and then back out of the fabric. Once you reach the end of the piece of fabric, pull your thread while holding the fabric near your last stitch. The knot will force the fabric to "gather," making a very nice cape.

Tie the gather off at the end, and then glue it onto your can like another accessory.

Step 6: Adding Hair

Picture of Adding Hair
To make hair, use several strands of yarn tied together in the center. Cut the strands to different lengths to give style. You can use stretched out cotton balls, small pony tail scrunchies or anything for texture, color and effect. Remember they're all different!

  • If you'd like a bald can, then don't add any hair.

You can hide imperfections (messes) with ribbons or yarn. Remember the Can People do not have to be perfect, just cute and fun.

Step 7: Facial Expressions

Picture of Facial Expressions

Use a fine tip permanent marker to add facial expressions, eye brows, eye lashes, mouth edges, moles, etc...
If you feel you've messed up just repaint and start again.

For ideas of expressions look at comic strips, or coloring books. Look anywhere simple people drawings can be found. You might even try watching a cartoon with your kid.

Try looking at for ideas.

Step 8: The Eyes Have It!

Picture of The Eyes Have It!
You can buy googly eyes in different sizes, colors and even shapes.The eyes are too small to put the glue on the backs. (You'll glue your fingers instead.)

The easiest way to put the eyes on is to dab (with a cotton swab) a little glue on the can where you want the eye to go, and then put the eye on the glue.

Tacky glue works better than the hot glue gun for the eyes. The hot glue will leave tell-tale bumps or strings, so stick to tacky glue.

  • Hint: Tacky glue is thicker than regular white glue. It gets "tacky" when air hits it so it won't run when you are trying to glue small things. Regular white glue will work, but be careful or it will run all over theses cute little faces.

Step 9: Keeping Helpers Busy

Picture of Keeping Helpers Busy

Keeping helpers is easy if you have all the supplies ready. Put googly eyes in dishes so they don't roll away. Put glue in a dish of some sort so you don't glue everything to your table. Have extra cotton swabs on hand to dab glue. Have Fun!

There's plenty to do to make these cans ready for the celebration. Simple details are what make them so much fun.

Step 10: Ready to Celebrate

Picture of Ready to Celebrate

All the cans no have eyes and hair, and they're all clothed, so they are ready to celebrate.

Step 11: At the Celebration

Picture of At the Celebration

Now you are ready to decorate with your diverse group of Can People .

Step 12: All Done

Picture of All Done

The party's over and it's time to rest.
Hope you enjoy making your celebration fun and memorable!

Remember that you don't need a celebration to make your can people. A rainy Saturday is enough reason to have fun with Can People.


xxlauraxx (author)2016-05-24

So cute and original! I'm sure these decorations made the banquet fun and unforgettable. :)

ThePurpleBlade11 (author)2015-02-18

Just make them look like their pooping and im sold

jeffwong711 (author)2013-05-09

how do you poke a hole into the can ?

ArtsyFartsyGirl (author)2011-10-04

I saw some like these a few years ago. One was a judge,black robe and all, and it really cracked me up! Everyone should have 2 or 3 of these on their desk or table, you couldn't help but smile.

porcupinemamma (author)2010-02-15

Hi rimar2000  :0) I'm  53, and I'd enjoy it too! :0) Way to go walkerbarb.

Warlrosity (author)2009-12-30

All holding American flags... hmmm....

Argon27 (author)2009-12-30

Oh my gosh! My mom used to make these for Christmas every year. She decorated them like carolers! :D

cindo123loser (author)2009-10-29


galenorama (author)2009-10-16

Great! That's cool!

J-Five (author)2009-10-16

even though someone has two much time on their hands Lol.

pie popper (author)2009-09-28

these are soo cute! i'm going to make one the next time i get a coke can. nicely done! 5*s! p.s where did you get all the cans?

walkerbarb (author)pie popper2009-10-09

I had several family members and friends  saving them, for a while....

annienm (author)2009-09-23

its looks like they're all screaming in terror LOL

007dna (author)annienm2009-09-28

Ya........thats what I thought too!

eulaliaaaa! (author)2009-09-22

Okay, I admit. That is a cute decoration for a Blue and Gold Banquet. Good times.

devilnocry (author)2009-09-21

Cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

wobbler (author)2009-09-20

Nice concept! Would love to see a warehouse florr full! This reminds me of Antony Gormley's Asian Field.

yags (author)2009-09-19

This is a really neat idea. I'll have to try this with my girls some time.

sgreen (author)2009-09-17

This is really cool, if you need helpers get the scouts involved. I have 2 boys both in Boy scouts 1 working on Eagle other just starting. For banquets we always got the boys to do the decorations planned a work day and got everybody together it made things a lot easier if you could get their parents involved also, sweet instructable voted for it....

jetsmiley123 (author)2009-09-17

this is the most awesome thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jbrecken (author)2009-09-17

If you were all done with your party and didn't need these can people hanging around anymore, would your local recycling center still take them?

walkerbarb (author)jbrecken2009-09-17

I am not too sure. Good question. You might have to remove the glued on parts.

The Daft (author)2009-09-17

How much time did all those take? And how many people did you have helping? even with two children at my side, it would take me quite a while to make an army of cans like that.....

walkerbarb (author)The Daft2009-09-17

It did take awhile I am not too sure how long. We never worked on them constantly. I do remember them being fun and entertaining.... and everyone loved them the adults made sure they took theirs.

pippa5 (author)2009-09-17

A canny idea, looks fun and they make me smile. I think I will make some and put them in the garden , Nailed down so they cannot blow away. Thanks for the idea

Bicyclette (author)2009-09-17


Javin007 (author)2009-09-17

LMAO! Too cute. They look like they're trying to catch snowflakes or raindrops.

WoundedEgo (author)Javin0072009-09-17

They remind me of those baby birds with the yellow mouths.

Mella2013 (author)2009-09-14

I love it!

juanvi (author)2009-09-13

really nice, i'll try to make if the oportunity comes

trooperrick (author)2009-09-13

It looks like they all got kicked or punched in the gut. But other than that they are a really simple idea that turns out cool.

candlelover (author)2009-09-13

oh wow are these 6 yr old would absolutely love making these...why didn't i ever think of this?

ChrysN (author)2009-09-12

These little guys are really cute, nicely done!

st.paul (author)2009-09-12

these are a really cute idea and they remember of 'shiny happy people' by REM for some reason- i guess the title.

JakeTobak (author)2009-09-12

Very cool, but also a little creepy. Wouldn't want to wake up and have my floor covered in those all facing me o_0 If you really want to promote diversity, you should change up the flags a bit.

walkerbarb (author)JakeTobak2009-09-12

Good idea... Scouting Around the World could be fun.

lemonie (author)2009-09-12

Really nice. Remind's me of Antony Gormley's Field


walkerbarb (author)lemonie2009-09-12


Kiteman (author)lemonie2009-09-12

Exactly my thought!

Kiteman (author)2009-09-12

These are... bizarrely brilliant.

I think being confronted by a room full of these would make every can discarded in the street an object of concern - is it really litter, or is it one of the little people, in disguise?

Or maybe that's just me?

rimar2000 (author)2009-09-12

Interesting, I guess the children enjoy that work.

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