Introduction: Aluminum Can Ornaments: How to Ruin a Good Pair of Scissors While Saving the Environment

About: I'm an artist, environmentalist, animal lover, gardener, recycling nut, a high school teacher, crafter, Mom, Christian and widow who reads a lot in between figuring out how to do things.

The 3 R's of recycling are:

Now I am seriously addicted to diet coke. So reducing is cutting down to 2 per day. 

I save the cans to recycle, but found another way to reuse the cans make into ornaments for my outdoor holiday tree.

And I can get a new pair of scissors, some cool glitter spray and a trip to the art/craft store too!

Step 1: Ingredients

You'll need:
aluminum can: drink the beverage, rinse out the leftover drops and turn upside down to dry. Guess this works for beer cans, and the tall ones will give you a lot more can. But  I'll stick to the coke cans.

scissors-- this will ruin your good sewing scissors, so use the old ones or the ones you want to replace (any excuse to get into the fabric shop or art supply store ) or borrow the poultry/utility scissors from the kitchen drawer and sneak it back before anyone sees you doing this. The chicken won't tell.

Krylon spray primer or  opaque paint for the "words" side of the can

fishing line or decorative cord-- so you can hang from the tree

Krylonvarnish or clear coat

other stuff:
In my craft room/studio/junk room I've got other stuff that I added to the ornament...
Modge podge or some other kind of sealant/glue
wrapping paper/old holiday cards
buttons, ribbon, crafting notions
Krylon Glitter spray
acrylic paint
permanent markers (metallic colors are my favorite)
Krylon Glowz spray( I'm planning on submitting to the contest so I'm using several Krylon products as a shameless promotion ploy)

Step 2: Cut

Cut the top and bottom off the can.
It is a lot easier than it sounds. The hard part is getting started. You can take a screwdriver or something pointy and stick it in the can to make a hole, then cut away. I like to poke the can on the lower part of the side near the bottom and then cut up to the top of the can. You can then just pull the can loose from the top of the can and then cut the bottom off pretty straight.

Cut the "curved" edges off so that you have a fairly straight and flat rectangle.

Step 3: Prime

Spray the can, especially the words side with primer or  a color you like.

Let dry (drink another coke or beer) and spray the other side.

Step 4: Shape

Cut out shapes from the can using your old scissors (will make these scissors not good for cloth or paper, so use old ones or the kitchen utility scissors.)

You can draw the shape on the can, or if you're artistically challenged, go get some cookie cutters and trace. Cut out shape.

Try not to cut off your hand while you're doing this as this isn't aesthetically pleasing to others to have drippy blood smears on your ornament. But the can edges aren't really that sharp. You don't need to wear gloves unless you've got baby soft hands that belong on a commercial. Since I have hands that should be on the "before" shot of the advertisement, I didn't have any problems.

You can paint the shape before you cut it out if you prefer. This makes it a little easier to paint if you have it taped down to your table or a board as the darn thing continues to arc even after you cut it out.

Step 5: Decorate

Decoration time. (Now the fun really begins)

Use up all that tacky glitter you've got stashed in the cabinet...(make sure if you're gluing it to use the kind of glue that sticks to metal and also is weather proof). Another option is to use glitter spray (so quick and easy and doesn't leave glitter all over your carpet for the cats to play with.

Paint it. Unless you expect someone to macro photograph and post on instructables or you teach middle school kids who like to slice and dice you just to see how it looks, just paint it simply and don't worry about being perfect. Have fun. It's going be outside and you're helping the environment, right?

Stickers? As I was writing this, I thought about using stickers....probably they would work. Since I save mine to give to those rotten middle school kids for being nice for a change, you have to try this on your own without my sage advice.

Emboss. You can actually add a raised/embossed edge. Use a pencil or ball point pen and draw on the can pressing hard. This works better if you have something underneath that somewhat cushions the hard surface of your table, like a stack of newspaper or piece of cardboard. On the other side will be the embossing, raised edge. But, if you want to do words, you have to so them backwards. If you're not Leonardo da Vinci and don't regularly practice mirror writing, you'll have to figure out your best method to do this. I'm not going to give away all of my secrets.

Wrapping paper and permanent markers are also fun to use, and you don't have to wait long for it to dry before flipping on the other side to decorate.

Step 6: Hanging

Poke a hole in the shape with a ball point pen or if you have one, an awl or ice pick.  Or if you like to use tools, get out your punch and hammer away. It will be over too soon. So then get out your Dremel tool and polish or sand the edges so you can enter some kind of contest or have a chance to play with hand tools.

If you're going to hang these outside, give a spray of varnish or clear coat to protect all your hard work. Spray outside or somewhere ventilated! (There is a warning on the can to avoid breathing the vapors for a reason.)

Thread a piece of fishing line  or decorative cord through the hole and hang up your ornament.

I'm into birds this week, so I made a lot of birds. But then I also don't plan on taking these down December 26, but wait until someone from my homeowner's association complains and sends the letter telling me to straighten up and conform to their idea of beautiful.

But  I know down deep that I made something beautiful, saved an aluminum can from an infinite year death (I don't believe they ever naturally break down) and annoyed someone with dull kitchen scissors the next time they cut through the whole chicken because of someone self-righteously guzzling more Coke in order to make cans to make stuff with!!

Krylon Holiday Decorations Contest

Participated in the
Krylon Holiday Decorations Contest