I have a lovely little backyard that I never take for granted because when you live in a city like San Francisco where the homes butt up right against each other and your front door opens pretty much directly onto the sidewalk, having a little patch of earth in the back of your home that you can enjoy is really a blessing. Lately, I’ve been wanting to add a bit of DIY outdoor lighting to our little patch of earth.
When the sun goes down the backyard can get pretty dark and although we have electric lights we can turn on, I so love the look and feel of candlelight. This month I finally got around to making tin can lanterns. I’ve loved them for forever and admired them in other people’s yards, but wasn’t sure I was up to the task of making holes in tin cans. Turns out it’s actually pretty easy and kind of a stress reliever.
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Let me show you how I made mine, in case you’d like to make some yourself.
- Tin cans
- A hammer
- A nail
- A towel
- Spray paint (optional)
- Tea lights
- Get together as many tin cans as you like. Make sure you have removed the labels and cleaned all the gunk off of them inside and out.
- Fill each can with about two inches of water and put them in the freezer until those two inches are frozen solid. Remove the cans from the freezer and then fill them the rest of the way up with water, put them back in the freezer until the whole thing is frozen solid. The frozen ice keeps the cans from getting misshapen when you hammer holes into them. The reason I did it in two steps is that supposedly, if you fill the entire can with water all at once and freeze it, the bottom of your can pops out and gets warped. By freezing it in two steps, your can retains its shape. Anyhoo….
- Once your cans are filled with solid water (i.e. ice), take them out and work on a surface that you’ve laid a towel on. You are going to need a hammer and a nail. I tried three different sizes of nails and found that the biggest size worked best and needed the least amount of effort to puncture holes in the cans.
- You can use a Sharpie pen to draw a pattern on your cans or you can free-hand it.
- Start hammering. Place the nail on one of your cans and give it a forceful tap with your hammer, if the nail doesn’t go through the tin on the first tap, give it another until you can see that you’ve made a hole. Keep on hammering holes until you’re are happy with your pattern.
- Then once you’ve let the ice melt from the cans, you can put tea lights in them immediately or you can gussy them up a bit with paint.
I’m a sucker for spray paint so, I painted my cans with a couple of coats Valspar flat black and then added a few layers of Valspar glitter on top. Now, that they are done, they look like this in the daylight:
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It’s hard to appreciate the glitter in the picture, but in person it is all kinds of sparkly wonderful, I promise. I set the tin can lanterns up on our wooden fence with velas interspersed between them and this is the finished result:
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*Disclosure: As a member of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas Blogger Network, I was provided with a gift card that I used to complete this project. All statements and opinions are mine.