Can Lanterns




About: A very hairy manchild studying illustration whilst playing around with as many different strange and intersting techniques and still trying to have a good time while i am at it (much to my tutors horror). I ...

Recycle your used drinks cans into potential fire hazards!! A modern take on the paper lantern... now even shinier _

Step 1: Materials Needed

You will need:
Any size or shape of drinks can (Preferably unopened as of yet as we need the flat top to balance the tea light on)
Something to put said contents of can in.
Our friend Mr Stanley the Knife.
Pliers (I find Snub nosed easier of this)

Also needed but not pictured:
A small length of wire ~10cm
A tea light (those lil lights in a metal pot)

Step 2: May Cause Disorientation.

Turn the can upside down and puncture the domed bottom with the stanley knife. Contents liable to a splode so do this in a sink or a swiming pool, possbly even a bath. Tip the remaining liquid into the cup for you to sup at leisure (it helps if you turn the can rightside up ontop of the cup and make a small hole at the top - that way the liquid can flow away easier.

Step 3: Remove the Top Part

Carefully cut around the dome using the stanley knife so that the middle part falls out. Then use the pliers to bend the sharp edges back in on thenselves so they are flush with the can (it also helps to cut radial lines going to the lip so the metal co-operates better)

Step 4: Just Hanging

Make two holes at opposite ends of the top on the other side of the rim. Loop wire through thease and secure the ends by twisting back on itself. Now you can hang burning doom above people _

Step 5: Cut Lines

Carefully cut lines all the way aound along the length of the can using the stanley knife. I wasnt being particularly neat for this one but to help with uniformity and doing interesting diagonals lay strips of masking tape down the length of the can so that they overlap and one edge is visible (this is the one you are going to cut along). Another aid in your quest for neatness is to use scissors to cut these lines as they leave a relatively straight line with no chewing on the sides.

Step 6: Squeeze!!

Push donw on the top and the bottom of the can so that the strips pop out. (some of them might go inwards but you can pull them out easy enough - or have it as a style feature) All you need to do now is to drop the tealight into the lantern (perhaps securing the base with blu-tack) light her up and hang it somewhere (not with string as its directly above the flame and is a sure sign that things will end in tears or the smell of bacon O_O) To aid in lighting this beast you might want to cut a small hole low down on one of the sides so you can poke a match through to the tea light without risk of burninating your fingers.

Step 7: Other Ideas

Below are some examples of what you can do to make your lantern more interesting. The plain vanilla version is on the right, next to it is a model using diagonal lines (to make them pop out all you do is twist the can slightly). Next to that i decided to play around with changing where the bends in the middle where (not that this can is "right way up" as it was made before i realised that using the top as a base is more stable). The last one has been liberally dribbled in glow in the dark paint (which didnt stick as its wall paint) in an experiment to see if it could charge itself (shich it doesnt as the paint is only on the outside - i was worried it might catch fire if i painted the insides).

Some other ideas i have done (not pictures) have been along the lines of cutting out stencils on the sides of the can but as i had to use a scalpel for this and the blades blunted really quick its hard to go into too much detail - stuff like stars and plantes work well.

Go on, play around with this and see if you can come up with any intresting ideas - send me pics of any you have made as well. I didnt take any night pictures because my digicam doesnt like them O_o.



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    43 Discussions


    I'm making my own version of these lanterns and I was wondering, what did you use to make the holes for hanging the lanterns? I have some ideas, but wouldn't mind the extra input. (this question is posed not just to the author, but also to fellow readers who have made something like this)


    13 years ago

    A very easy way to remove the base of a soda can cleanly is to score the edge of the concave section by "dragging" the tip of a screwdriver along its edge repeatedly. Doing this weakens the metal enough that (after cutting a few slits in an asterisk pattern) you can simply bend the metal flaps until they snap at the score line. It is very easy to do.

    The idea comes from:

    Another idea i had to embellish the cans is to sand them down with some high-grit sandpaper and a bit of oil or water. i figure this would eb easiest to do when the can is still full because that way there is pressure from the inside to help you avoid denting your soon-to-be glorious can lantern

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I took the lazy way out and used a belt sander, and voila, the thin aluminum got a hole and COKE everywhere... I was hoping to keep the can intact since i wasn't thirsty. Chalk that up to experience, glad i was outdoors.
    I primed and painted with spray, and mine are white - a little bit less enviro friendly, but very pretty, and i poked holes in them for patterns (more windproof) and put stickytack on the bottom (convex part) to keep my tea lights in. Still haven't experimented with handles, just put these on the railing of my deck. Beauty.


    10 years ago on Step 5

    eeeeeeewwwwwwwww lemon diet coke! even just normal diet coke is gross( not to mention bad 4 u )

    3 replies

    9 years ago on Introduction

    i really like this ...i just made one for when me and my friend go camping...thanks a lot..good job also


    12 years ago

    I did a few quick ones with my dremel and bench grinder. I used my bench grinder to remove the hard bottom.In the middle is a burning tea candle

    2 replies

    10 years ago on Introduction

    i sanded down a Dr. Pepper can, so you could still see the red, but there was a lot of silver.... it is TRIPPIN!


    Contents liable to "a splode"... LOL. Perhaps you could make some H*R themed can lanterns? = )


    11 years ago on Step 5

    A suggestion for getting clean lines for designs, or just avoiding jagged lines, fill the can about two thirds full of water and toss it in the freezer. That way you have a solid surface to work on and less risk of cutting yourself. I did lanterns like this for a wedding once. :)

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 5

    Great idea. I just used my fingers on the other side but your method is safer and painless!