Introduction: Recycled Can Lilies

I have been making recycled can flowers for years. See my previous instructable here: . My son is engaged to a woman named Lilly and so I came up with a design for a lily from recycled cans to use as part of the table centerpieces.

Step 1: Select a Can to Use

Although any aluminum can will work fine, I find that cans with a taller aspect ratio than the standard 12 oz cans look a little better for the Lilies. This means pint or larger cans or those 12 oz water cans that are slightly taller/narrower than the standard.

Step 2: Make Yourself a Marking Guide

Wrap a strip of paper around a can and mark the circumference. Divide this by 6 and mark the paper at that interval. For the tall water 12 oz beverage cans, that would be an interval of 1-3/16" . To make marking easier, I also make the paper strip height equal to half the can height. This makes it easy to to the next step of marking the can around its equator.

Step 3: Mark Beverage Can Around the Equator

Mark the petal s at the equator (e.g., 6 equally spaced locations around) with either a scratch awl or permanent marker.

Step 4: Cut Off the Top and Bottom of the Can

Using a box knife, cut all the way around near the top and bottom of the can. Towards the end, the can will be losing its structure and may become difficult to cut.You can switch to the heavy shearers to cut the last bit, if necessary. Note, these cuts do not have to be neat or precise. None of these edges will survive to the final result as petals and flower base will be coming to a point at these cuts.

Step 5: Cut From the Bottom Up to Each Mark

Start your shearers mid-way between two markings along the bottom edge and cut up to a marking at the equator of the can. (Note, you don't have to get fussy and mark the locations on the bottom edge. Simply use the printing on the cans to gauge where the markings would project down to the edge where you start your cuts.)

Next, go back and cut from the same starting point as before, but going the other way to remove a little triangle so there won't be some much metal coming together at the base of the lily. The amount to cut is not critical. I cut to a point up from the previous cut by about 1/2".

Step 6: Join Flaps of Base to Neighbors

Tucking the edge with the second cut inside the lily, hold two flaps together at the points and fasten them together. My preferred method for speed is to use a hand stapler such as shown in the image. (I just happened to already own one.) With this, one is able to get the "anvil" part of the stapler inside. Alternately, one can use pieces of tape to join flaps as shown in the next step.

Continue around, joining 5 of the 6 petals together with the stapler.

Step 7: Join Last Pair of Base Flaps With Tape

I use tape for only the last (6th) joining. I cut a 3/8" - 1/2" wide strip of tape to use. I like to use foil tape that I get from a home center (in the HVAC section), but any good tape would work. When done one should have a nice cone on one end such as shown.

Step 8: Cut the Petals

Now, starting from a point at the top edge midway between two of the equator markings, cut one side of a petal in a graceful arc until it meets the previous cut. Continue around doing the other 5 petals.

Then, I cut the other side of each petal in the reverse direction.

Step 9: Curl the Petals

Get a piece of a dowel or other cylinder of 1/2" to 3/4" diameter. Roll each petal, one at a time, around the dowel. You can start by rolling it tightly and then by hand open up the curl until the petals have the desired curvature.

Step 10: Connect a "Stem" to the Lily

Get a piece of wire 9" or so. For my wedding decorations, I used 20 gauge florist wire from a craft store, but drop-ceiling mounting wire, unbent wire coathanger or other wire could be used.

Put a small loop in one end of the wire and cut a piece of tape about 1-1/4" wide coming to a near point at one edge, as shown. Remove the tape backing if it has one, stick to the loop of the wire, thread the other end of the wire into the lily from the top and pull it down snuggly inside. Then, reach in and press the tape down against the inside of the lily. (I use the handle end of an old toothbrush to reach way down inside to press the tape.)

Step 11: Paint Them If You Like

You can choose to paint these lilies if you want. For the wedding, Lilly requested that the insides ONLY be painted with wedding colors, leaving the outsides unpainted and showing that they obviously were made from recycled material. Since I was using cans that were mostly silver on the outside, this has a nice look (See photos at top of the Instructable.)

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