I love making art from drinks cans! In a world where we consume so much, it’s always nice to be able to reuse something rather than throw it in the bin. The best thing is that you can create stunning effects really easily. This blog explores the journey from empty drink cans to beautiful artworks, providing inspiration and guidance for anyone looking to embark on their own creative upcycling projects.

To create these upcycled pictures you will need:

  • Empty drink cans (cleaned and dried)
  • an awl (for piercing the metal) optional
  • Scissors or tin snips (for cutting the aluminium) – please don’t use your best scissors for this!
  • Templates of the shapes you wish to create (optional) or you can draw freehand
  • Alcohol inks/pens, or Sharpies/permanent markers
  • Adhesives (I use double-sided tape or foam pads)
  • Protective gloves (to avoid cuts and staining from the inks. I use vinyl gloves)
  • Stylus tools for embossing
  • Decorative papers such as scrapbooking papers
  • A 3D picture frame
  • Protective eyewear (optional for extra protection against any fine pieces of can that may ping off)
    Note: I mainly use various papercraft tools these days to create my can art pictures. The list above is a basic list of items that you need to create can art. I use a Big Shot, Bigs Dies, embossing folders and paper punches that are not included in the list above (as well as some other bits and bobs).

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Can Art

  1. Prepare the Cans: Start by thoroughly cleaning and drying the cans. Carefully cut off the top and bottom of the can using scissors or tin snips, then cut down the side to flatten the aluminium sheet. You may want to use an awl to pierce the can first so it is easier to get your scissors in.
  2. Design Your Piece: Keep your designs simple. I like to think of it as creating a silhouette of the image. If your design needs other parts to it to bring it to life, you can add layers of separate elements. You could print designs from the PC, draw out your own designs on paper first and use them as templates, or draw freehand with a marker pen onto the can.
  3. Cut and Shape the Aluminium: Use your design/sketch as a template and cut the aluminium accordingly. Remove any wispy pieces and if you wanted, you could sand the edges to avoid any sharp points. I tend to find that once the cans are cut, they are not too sharp as long as all the edges are rounded with nothing sticking out. Just beware that they can catch you like a paper cut! Gently bend the aluminium as you would a rolled up piece of paper in order to get it as flat as possible.
  4. Add texture to your piece(s): Use stylus or other pointed tools to raise or dent the aluminium to emboss it.
  5. Colour your aluminium: Decide if you want to use the printed design of the can, or if you want to colour the silver side. There are various ways to do this such as using alcohol inks/markers, permanent markers, acrylic paints or spray paints. Play around and see what you like to use. Allow to dry before assembling.
  6. Assemble Your Artwork: Choose your background paper and cut it to the size of your frame. Play around with the arrangement of your aluminium piece(s) to see where it would look best. If your piece involves multiple parts, start assembling them using double-sided tape or foam pads. Attach the aluminium to the background paper.
  7. Add Finishing Touches: You can also add embellishments like beads, wire, gems, or other upcycled materials.
  8. Put the final piece into your frame.

Tips for Success

  • Safety First: Wear protective gloves and eyewear when cutting and shaping aluminium to prevent injuries.
  • Follow the safety instructions of the inks or paints that you use.
  • Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and designs. The beauty of upcycling is that there are no rules – let your creativity guide you.
  • Share Your Work: Join online communities or local art groups to share your creations and gain inspiration from others.

Other Inspirational Ideas for Drink Can Art

  • Sculptures: Create intricate sculptures of animals, flowers, or abstract forms. The lightweight nature of aluminium makes it perfect for creating detailed and delicate pieces.
  • Jewellery: Craft unique earrings, necklaces, or bracelets by cutting and shaping small pieces of aluminium. Add beads, charms, or other upcycled elements for extra flair.
  • Plant pots and Garden Ornaments: Cut off the top of the can and pop a few holes in the bottom, and you have a plant pot! Or cut the top off the can, cut down the sides into strips still attached to the base, add a stick or wire and decorate, and you have a garden ornament.

Upcycling drink cans into art is not only a sustainable practice but also a rewarding and creative endeavour. By transforming trash into treasure, you can contribute to environmental conservation while expressing your artistic talents. So next time you finish a drink, don’t throw away the can – turn it into a masterpiece instead!

If you like the idea of creating this kind of art but would like a bit more support, why not join me for a Can Art Demonstration Workshop? I’m hosting one online in the 19th June 2024…. You can get tickets via Eventbrite here: https://bit.ly/3V2ktWA