Introduction: How to Make a Cantern™

About: Error(New York, London, Paris, Tallinn) Error was born in Vilnius in June 2009 as part of a Capital of Culture project which deteriorated into a reality television show on Lithuanian National television.Monika…

The autumn is a wonderful season but as the days get shorter, there is less light to do be active outdoors. Make yourself a Cantern™ (can-lantern) and brighten up those dark nights...


What you need is a hammer, a box-cutter/Stanley knife an empty can, something to use for a wick, some oil, some wire or coat hangar and a nail...alternatively you could skip the oil and wick and use tea-candles inside. A pair of tin snips and pliers could also be useful depending on your Cantern™ design.


Begin by drawing out your design on the can and then cut it with the box-cutter/Stanley knife.

We'll use this design as an example for the rest of the steps but you could also make a design which uses a window to project the light or several windows.

For this design cut the can diagonally along the ribs at regular intervals.

*Do not cut below or above the ribs because the oil will need to be contained at the bottom and you will need to punch two holes at the top to make a handle.


With your can cut at regular intervals, you can now compress the can vertically and bend out the ribbed portion to create a curved surface. If your not strong enough to press down on the can, you can hammer the edges softly while pushing the sides of the can out. Use your pliers or fingers to even out the curves but watch out for the razor-sharp edges.

If you end up hanging your Cantern™ somewhere outside, it will spin.


For making the wick holder you'll need the top of the can.

Start by using the hammer and nail to punch a hole in the center of the top, just slightly bigger than your wick. While you're punching holes you might as well punch two holes on opposite sides of your Cantern™.

Use the pliers or your fingers to bend the top of the can into a pair of legs and feet with the center hole right at the apex of the legs.

Slide your wick through the hole... To make it easier, you can twist a bit of thin wire and the wick together to help stick it through the hole and also to give some support to the wick. Once your wick holder is finished you should be able to plop it into your nearly working Cantern™.

Also, with some thick wire or a coat hangar, make a handle for your Cantern™ by bending the wire/coat hangar into an arch with the two ends of the arch being just farther apart than the can and then bending a centimeter on either side inwards. Now the handle should fit into the holes you made earlier. If you want it more secure, you can also pieces that hook into the Cantern™ upwards so they cannot become free.

Step 5: OIL

Fill your Cantern™ with oil, right above the arch of the wick holder.

We are using oil which we took from a cooking oil recycling post, where restaurants drop off their used oil. We strained the oil through some cloth before using it.


Now that you have a finished Cantern™, you're ready for autumn's dark nights! Go out into the woods and let the Cantern™ light your way.

We taught a workshop on how to make Canterns™, rain-gear and mini camping stoves for attendees of Espoo Maker Faire on the 17th and 18th of October, 2015.

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