Introduction: How to Make a Simple Recycled Tin-Can Flower for Your Garden or Plant Pot

About: Waste materials recycled into jewellery, accessories, home decor, garden art.

This project is suitable for all ages, as long as assisted by an adult.
It does require a level of dexterity, and strength, and a basic knowledge of metal (or wood) working tools is an advantage.
The riveting tool can be too hard to use for small kids.

Safety precautions:

1: Please wear gloves when handling, and cutting the tin can, as the edges can be very sharp.

2: When using the riveter avoid putting your fingers in between the handles.

3: Beware of the ends of wire when cutting, and protect your eyes if necessary.


You will need:
1: A solid work table, and/or block of wood
2: Gloves
3: An old biro/pen that doesn’t work any more
4: Hammer
5: Centre punch (or a large nail)
6: Riveter
7: Pliers
8: Scissors
9: A pop rivet (I’m using 3.2mm diameter, 8mm long)
10: A washer (inner diameter hole needs to be the same size (or very close) to the size of rivet - I’m using 3mm x 9mm. (Outer diameter doesn’t matter so much)
11: A length of wire
12: 1 or 2 empty and washed aluminium drinks cans.

Step 1: Wood to Work On

This can be a log, plank, off cut, or even just your workshop table (if you don’t mind little holes being hammered into it)
It’s just a soft base for you to be able to hammer your punch into.

Step 2: The Wire

Any kind of wire will do, as long as it has the strength to stand up on its own.
Here I have some examples - galvanised wire (often found in workshops/sheds), stripped copper electrical wire, or rusty bed-spring wire from an old bed.
Cut a length with your pliers.
TIP: Cut a bit longer than you think you need, to allow for it to go in the ground. You can always trim it shorter if need be, but you can’t make it longer 🙂

Step 3: Cutting the Can

Put on your gloves, as the edges of the can will be very sharp as you cut it.

TIP: You can use ordinary scissors to cut the aluminium can as they are fairly thin. But DO NOT use your best sharp scissors, as they will get blunt.
It’s best to use old ones, that are already blunt.

To start - pierce a hole near the top of the can, and cut around the top. Then cut down the middle of the can to the bottom, and cut along the bottom, so that you end up with a large strip to work with.

TIP: Keep hold of the top and bottom of the can, for a future project (to be shared with you soon 🙂)

Step 4: Cutting the Petals

Using the pen that doesn’t work, draw a petal shape, and cut it out.
Use this as a template to draw around for the rest of the petals (Here I am doing 5, but depending on what type of flower you want to do, you can do as many as you like - for instance the daffodil (see below) has 6)

Step 5: Drawing a Pattern on Your Petals

Decide which side is the front of your petals (coloured or silver) and draw on the opposite side with the pen, some pattern or detail.
This will give you a raised pattern on the opposite side. (If you want a dented pattern then draw on the front of your petals)
I’m using the silver side as the front of my flower.

Step 6: Cutting the Centre Circle, and Making the Holes for the Rivet

Cut a small circle out of a contrasting colour for the centre of the flower.
In order to rivet everything together, we now need to make holes in the aluminium. This is where you will need your block of wood.
Using the centre punch and the hammer, hold the centre punch on the metal where you want your hole (not too near the edge or it will split)
Hit the top of the punch with your hammer, going into the wood underneath, so that you create a hole that is approx. 3mm diameter to fit the fat end of the rivet.

Step 7: Making a Loop on the End of the Wire

With your pliers, bend one end of the wire into a loop that will fit the rivet.

Step 8: Riveting It All Together

Now we can rivet all the bits together:

Starting with the centre piece, and holding the ‘stick’ end of the rivet, put the fatter end through the hole, then through all the petals, then the wire loop, and lastly the washer, which is very important to hold the wire in place.
It’s quite fiddly at this point as you must keep hold of all the components between your finger and thumb, on one hand, whilst fitting the riveter onto the ‘stick’ part of the rivet, with the other.

TIP: The handles of the riveter must be fully open when you first put it on, to ensure the nozzle tip of the riveter slides all the way to the bottom of the stick, before you start squeezing the handles together.

Once the rivet gun is firmly on the rivet, start squeezing the handles together, (ensuring your fingers aren’t in between the handles) with just one hand whilst holding the flower components in the other hand.
Once you have squeezed a bit, you can let go of the flower, as it will be partly secure.
At this point you can make adjustments to the petals etc, and then use both hands to squeeze the handles of the rivet-gun (as it requires quite a lot of force)
If the handles are squeezed fully together, and the rivet has not ‘snapped’ yet, open the handles completely (you should hear a click) ensure the tip is right at the bottom of the rivet again, and squeeze a second time, using both hands.
The rivet will snap, and might give you a jump, don’t worry that’s what is supposed to happen!
Make sure your fingers etc are out the way!

TIP: To get the ‘stick’ part of the rivet out of the riveter - open up the handles completely and it’ll drop out of the nozzle, or the back.

Step 9: Finishing Off

Use the pliers and/or your fingers to shape the stem as you wish, trim to desired length, and then stick in the ground, or a pot.
Why not make a bunch of them! 🙂

If you want to make a daffodil for Easter - do as above, with a few changes as shown in the following steps.

Step 10: Making a Daffodil

You’ll preferably need a yellow can for a daffodil (not essential - you could do a silver one, or any colour really), and they have 6 petals.
So cut 6 petals from a yellow can as detailed in the steps above.

Step 11: Centre of the Daffodil

Cut a larger circle for the centre than you did before, and make cuts all around so you can bend it up to make a ‘flute’ type middle to the flower.
Rivet it on as detailed in the steps above, and then bend it up into shape.

Step 12: Daffodil

TIP: Maybe use thicker wire than I have here, as daffodils have quite thick stems.

Good luck!

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