Recently, when my daughters were looking for something to do, I pulled out an old craft idea that I had done as a kid. This project turns an ordinary tin can into a decorative paper clip or pen holder.
- clean tin cans (e.g., tuna or soup cans, candy tins, etc)
- fabric scraps
- ribbons, lace, ric rac, buttons, bows, etc
- glue (hot glue gun, white glue or craft glue)
Decorate a Tin Can
1. Use the tin can to trace a two circles on a piece of fabric. Glue these circles to the bottom and inside of the can. If necessary, let the glue dry.
2. Trace the edges of the tin can and again cut two pieces of fabric, one for the inside and one for the outside of the can. For the tuna cans, I found that a piece of 2-inch ribbon was the right size to wrap around the tin can without requiring cutting. For the other can, I tried to use the finished edge of the fabric to reduce fraying. (The picture below has ribbon inside and fabric outside.)
3. Finish the top edge of the tin with lace or ribbon. Choose a piece of lace or ribbon about 1/2-inch wide. Cut it as long as the circumference of the can. Glue around the top edge of the can and fold the lace over to cover the edges of the fabric or ribbon on the inside and outside of the can. We used a decorative bead edging for this.
My girls (ages 6 and 4) had a lot of fun decorating their tin cans. We did this project in about twenty minutes (and then had to wait overnight for the glue to finish drying) and they would have decorated another set of tin cans if I hadn’t taken the recycling out the day before.
For this project, I used scrap fabrics from my sewing projects and leftover ribbon I’ve collected from birthday presents and other places. I found the bead edging in a free bin and scooped it up to use for a craft with my girls (they were delighted with it). If you don’t have your own fabric scraps, most fabric stores sell leftover ends for a few dollars. You could also use buttons, glitter, and other things to decorate the cans.
These are pretty enough to sit on any desk or to give as a gift (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas!). You can also use any size tin can for the craft. We used tuna cans, which make a great holder for paper clips or binder clips (or other random junk on your desk). A taller tin would make a perfect pencil holder. Or you could decorate a candy tin or another tin with a lid and give it to someone filled with candy.