Introduction: Campbell's Soup Trash Can

About: My name is Britt Michelsen. I am a chemical engineer from Germany especially interested in computational fluid dynamics. To balance all the theoretical work, I like to make stuff in my free time

In this instructable, I am going to show you how I painted my trash can so that it looks like a Campbell's soup can. Your first question is probably: "Why?". The answer is quite simple, I started to run out of wall space at our house (I love painting) and decided to hang a few pieces in our bathroom. The first piece I created was a door sign that says "Musee du Loovre", so I wanted all the other pieces to be spoof art as well, like a painting of Deadpool dressed and sitting like the Mona Lisa. The Campbell's soup trash can I am showing you here is one of those pieces. It is supposed to pay homage to Andy Warhol's iconic prints.

I hope you enjoy this modification and that it makes you chuckle. Since all the graphics that are included with this instructable are vector graphics, you can make the can as big as you would like.



  • Vinyl (white and gold); You need to be able to print on the gold (e.g. this one*)
  • Transfer paper or foil
  • Masking Tape
  • Spray Paint (black, red, silver, and white), depending on the paint you might also need a primer
  • Plastic Primer
  • Filler primer (e.g. this one*)
  • Sanding paper (600 grid)
  • Trash can (I used the 6l version of this one*)
  • Clear coat
  • Optional: Filament (for the pull tab)
  • Optional: Anti slip tape (like this one*)


  • Vinyl cutting machine
  • Scissor
  • Optional: 3D printer (for the pull tab)

* Affiliate link. I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks a lot for the support!

Step 1: Preparations #1

Start by removing the soft-close sticker from the top of the trash can. Make sure to remove all the residue of the glue.

Next, I removed the metal part from the foot paddle, since there was a logo embossed into it and I wanted to get rid of it (which failed, but more about that later). If there is no logo embossed into yours, you can just leave it in place, otherwise, just bend the metal tabs over and pull it out.

Step 2: Preparations #2

This was the second time I painted the trash can (my Mum wanted to get one as well) and I learned from the mistakes I made the first time. The last time I painted it, the paint didn't stick to the plastic. So this time I used sandpaper to rough up the surface.

Once I was done I used a plastic primer on all the plastic surfaces.

Step 3: Creating the Pull Tab

I decided that adding the pull tab would be a nice gimmick. So I 3D printed it. I have attached the STL file to this step, for you to print your own.

Once you are done printing it, you will probably have to smooth it. I wrote a whole instructable on how to smooth 3D prints. You can find it here. For the pull tab, I used multiple layers of filler primer and wet-sanded it afterward with 600 grid sandpaper.

Step 4: First Prize Paris Exposition

The golden medal on the cans has a meaning. It was rewarded to Campbell's Soup at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris, France. Better known in English as the 1900 Paris International Exposition.

The world's fair was visited by nearly 50 million people and displayed many technological innovations.

Actually, quite a few medals were handed out. The organizers of the exposition handed out 3,156 grand prizes, 8,889 gold medals, 13,300 silver medals, 12,108 bronze medals, and 8,422 honorable mentions.

I decided to vectorize the image to make it look better. For a brief moment, I planned on using my cutting plotter to cut it out, but it would have required me to remove a lot of small pieces of vinyl, and I doubt it would have looked great. So I decided to just print the graphic onto the vinyl.

You can find the final vector image I created attached to this step. It can be opened with Inkscape.

Step 5: Vectorizing the Design

I spend some more time in Inkscape and vectorized all the individual elements. I have attached them to this step so that you don't have to go through the trouble (luckily the company's logo can be found on wikipedia).

As you can see, "red.svg" and "black.svg" are stencils, while "white.svg" and "gold.svg" are stickers. The "Tomato" sticker should fit right over the foot paddle to make positioning it easier. You can of course just invert the stencils and only use stickers.

The classic Campbell's script is thought to be inspired by founder Joseph Campbell's signature, the cursive "Campbell's" logo was intended to lend a homemade feel to the label in order to appeal to housewives.

If you don't own a cutting plotter you can probably trace the graphics onto the trash can and paint them by hand.


Step 6: Let's Start Painting

Once you are done preparing the surface, we can move on to painting it.

The original labels of Campbell's soup line, created in 1897, were actually orange and blue. A year later, it was changed to red and white after the company's treasurer and general manager at the time saw a University of Pennsylvania versus Cornell football game, in which he was impressed by Cornell's red and white uniforms and proposed the change (check out this great article to learn more about the design).

You can of course pick any colour combination you like, but I decided to go with the iconic red and white look.

I wanted the foot paddle and the plastic around it to be white. So as you can see in the first picture, I started by spray painting them white.

Next, I used small pieces of masking tape to help me mark the middle of the trash can as shown in the second and third picture. I didn't want to use large amounts of masking tape and therefore went with paper towers, as you can see in the last picture of this step.

To prevent the red paint from bleeding under the tape I started by spray painting a layer of white around it.

Step 7: Painting the Red

After the white paint is dry, we can move on to the red paint. Use thin layers and let it dry thoroughly.

Afterward, mask off the top as shown in the second and third pictures.

Step 8: The Aluminium Parts

Next, we are going to paint the aluminium parts. From my experience painting parts with metal paint, I realized that the paint looks way better when you prime the parts black first. So this is what I did.

Spray paint the top of the can, the bottom of the can (as shown in the third picture), and the pull tab.

Step 9: Adding the Script #1

It is easier to just use vinyl for all of the script, but I wanted the word "Tomato" to be exactly the same colour as the top of the can. Therefore I cut a stencil and spray painted the letters on it, as you can see in the pictures.

The "Tomato" stencil should fit right over the foot paddle.

I also spray painted the shadow of the Campbell's logo black, since it is thinner than using vinyl and this way the borders don't show up under the white letters. There is a small line in the middle under the Campbell's logo in the stencil. It is suppose to make positioning it easier. The top of the stencil should be aligned with the top of the trash can. Don't forget to cover the small line before spray painting.

Step 10: Adding the Script #2

Once the paint is dry all you need to do is to apply the vinyl stickers, as shown in the pictures. I honestly just eyeballed the position.

The fleur-de-lis are positioned to the left and the right of the foot paddle. You can see a picture of them in the next step.

Step 11: Foot Pedal

As I have written before, I tried removing the embossing from the foot pedal but failed. All my attempts left were indents, as you can see in the first picture. So I decided to simply cover it up with anti-slip tape. Afterward, I spray-painted it white so that it matches the rest of the trash can.

Once it was dry I reattached it to the trash can.

Finally, apply clear coat, and you are done, congratulations!

Step 12: Failures

On my last instructable, I posted a step showing all the troubles I had and a lot of you seem to like it, so here we go again.

This was the second time I made this trash can and I was a bit impatient. As you can see in the first picture, I tore off some of the paint with the masking tape (and managed to leave a finger print...). I didn't wait long enough to let the paint dry. I was able to fix this by leaving the trash can over night and using sanding paper to smooth the area. Afterwards, I had to repaint it.

The second picture shows what happened after I used clear coat. The paint I used started to crackle and it separated from the surface. So make sure that the paints you use are compatible. In case you are wondering why there is still masking tape, I used the clear coat in between the layers to prevent the paint from bleeding.

The third picture shows another failure. I spend a long time redrawing the medal and wanted to showcase it. So I printed it way too big. After I was done I realized that it looked stupid and removed it. Sadly I had already spray painted a layer of clear coat and therefore it was tricky, but in the end, it was worth the afford since the smaller medal looked way better.

I hope you can learn from my mistakes and everything goes well. Have fun making it.

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