Can Art:Pebble Cans and Other Delights




About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

Due to interest in my instructable:; I was prompted to find another use for tin cans.  This instructable shows the end results of the creative process...from empty tin cans and plastic jars to complete, usable art/garden objects.

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Step 1: Collect Cans and Plastic Jars

Plastic jars? Yep, I found that they work fine and fill the need very well!  Who'd have thought that you can utilize plastic containers in this manner?  I wasn't so sure at first, but so far, it seems to be very doable.

Step 2: Other Materials and Tools

To complete these projects, I used three different adhesives to attach pebbles, glass baubles, broken tiles, etc. First was regular thin set, a mortar like material for setting tiles; 2: Tile adhesive, which accomplishes the same thing, but is a latex product, ready to use, and 3: A product called Flexall. This is a filler type agent to use for filling gaps, holes, etc in various materials.  It seems very similar to the tile adhesive, and it worked exceptionally well.  the usual trowls, sponge, mixing containers, a paint brush, hammer, etc.

Step 3: First Pebble Can

Here I've shown the first can I did.  On this can I used tile adhesive and applied the stones directly onto the adhesive.  I cover all steps later on.

Step 4: Second Pebble Can

On this can, I wanted a larger circumference than the can itself, so came up with a method to apply a thicker coating of material.  Basically, I first  glued some broken pieces of tile onto the can.  Around these pieces, I applied chicken wire, much as you would in lath and plaster work.  Then, the tile set mortar was applied to this supporting grid of wire, and allowed to dry.  A second coat of black sanded grout was then spread over all the surface and smoothed out with a damp sponge.  This gave a very smooth, uniform exterior coating to which I would then attach the tile pieces.  To do this, I used regular tile adhesive.  Then, the tiles are applied, the piece is allowed to cure at least over night, then the tiles can be grouted.

Step 5: A Plastic Jar Becomes a Vase

Here I show how I used Flexall and an empty peanut butter jar (plastic), to make an unusual vase/planter.

Step 6: A Can With Broken Tile As a Mosaic

Here the same techniques are used, but left over travertine tile was broken in to small pieces and adhered to can with tile adhesive.  Can is then grouted as with the others and is ready to use.

Step 7: Make a Stand for New Project(s)

To make a stand for various vases and planters i use throughout the garden and on the patio, etc., I wanted some square stands as I like to elevate various planters while arranging them in the different areas that I use them in.  These pieces are simply cast out of concrete in easy to make molds.  My molds are about 5in. x 5in. and of two varying heights.  To make intermediate size pieces, I use the larger mold, but only fill it half or three quarters full. These stands can then be used as is, or decorated as I have done to a few of them, as shown.  I will do another instructable on how to decorate/paint these pieces.

Step 8: Basic Steps for All Items

!.  Collect materials and cans, and bottles you will use.
2.  Spread adhesive on the piece following general instructions found on the adhesive packaging.  I've done a lot of tile setting and it is basically the same procedure.
3.  Apply your covering material of choice into the adhesive as soon as possible.
4.  Let set/cure over night or longer. You want the material to be completely dry and or set totally.
5.  Grout those items that need it, such as the glass tile and broken tile piece.  The pebble cans are not grouted.
6.  For the pebble cans, I went back with a dark brown paint to go over the adhesive that shows around the pebbles.  You don't have to be too careful doing this, just take a damp sponge and wipe over the stones to remove any paint that adheres to the rocks.  After this step, I applied a gloss polyurethane varnish, water based, and that was it. 
7.  Holes can be drilled into the cans to use as planters, or left as is to be used as vases.

Step 9: Pictures of Made Pieces

And this is what they all look like when assembled after completion!

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    18 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Hi I love this idea !!! It looks lovely , iv got bags if stones I don't know what to do with , and some horrible big plastic planters , so I would love to try this , just wanted to check I understand you correctly ,

    In regards to putting tile adhesive or filler on to the plastic tub , should I paint a primer on it first ? Then the adhesive then do I just stick the stones to the adhesive , then leave them to set over night and that's it?

    I might sound stupid but just wanted to be clear on the instructions .

    Great idea they look expensive !!

    Love Sarah x

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I don't believe a primer is necessary...just apply your adhesive/tile set, etc. then embed stones. Don't do too large an area to begin with you can always add more adhesive later. Good luck.


    7 years ago on Step 5

    This is really beautiful. About this flexall stuff. I have a persistent crack in a plaster wall. Will this fill it and not crack out in the future? I have tried many products and nothing has worked. Deb

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi deb, Used an outdoor polyfilla ---it's in powder form. (a South African product,--- there must be a similar type product available everywhere.) Then added lightly beaten egg white with some of the required water and used it in the plaster cracks in my walls. It worked like a charm and was super strong and never cracked. Found this hint in a magazine somewhere, long time ago. Sure it will work for you. Try it anyway and see what happens.Good luck


    Thanks the flexall. they claim it will, you can google it and see all of it's uses. sounds like you might have a foundation problem. here in calif., I have been patching the same cracks for 35 years! they seem to always come back, and I heard it was due to "expansive soil"...I dunno...if the house settles a hair, then cracks might ask an expert, good luck.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    OOOOOOOOHHH !!!! just LOVE this idea. Will look around for things to use to "stick " onto cans etc.,-- Thanks for sharing, sweetie.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    beautiful vases! but I have a question. On the cans you have used wire, why not on the plastic jar ?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks breumer. I wanted to make a thicker walled vase and thought the best way to do that is with the wire as shown. It worked, but took a couple of days to dry, and may not be the best way, if simplicity is necessary, to do this. the other methods work as well, just don't have the thickness.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    do you prime the it can be pasted on?
    i generally use wall filler.
    What did adhesive did you use for the pebbles? I like the look of it.
    I've done the rest...after i saw the same article you did... :-)

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    shazni, thanks...I have primed some cans but think it doesn't matter; the tile adhesive was used, see step 4.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing, so simple and the effects are so professional looking, when I get a second or too I am going to do this. Thanks for sharing!

    1 reply