A really cool, and fun idea for recycling those empty soda cans! You know the old adage “April showers bring May flowers”? Well I have got some pretty May flowers for you, made entirely out of aluminum soda cans!
I think I’ve done enough windspinners…..Yes, I love them but I need to find a different type of project for outside…Looking at the barren fence, I had a brilliant idea. It was actually based on a windspinner design, I saw how it could be adapted to something else.
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Yes, I pick up empty soda cans on the side of the road. Go ahead and snicker if you want to.
It’s a win-win for me, because they’re FREE after all. Years ago, I was always picking up cans, (and yes I include the 12 packs we got on our own too, I’d collect as many as I could and take them to the local recycling center, where I’d probably get a few dollars for the privilege. When I think about those times, and how I could have turned them into yard art instead, I’d give anything to take all those many hours and bags of cans back!
Here’s my most recent collection…that’s a total of 18 cans in all, I didn’t need to go hog-wild for this…
They have all been rinsed thoroughly (the ones that held beer, needed an extra good wash with white vinegar to get that smell out) and are ready to go.
Next thing to do will be marking off what will be the “petals” of the flowers. You can have narrow petals, wide ones, and those that flare out more at the sides, but the most important thing you’ll need is some measuring tape (the kind sewists use that is flexible like ribbon – not the hardware kind, those are too stiff.) Use the tape and go around the diameter of the can to get the full measurement and make a note of it somewhere.m
To create symmetrical petals that are equal in size and width will take a little guesswork on your end, but to make it as accurate as possible I will offer a little reference guide:
- A 12 oz can – 8.5″
- A skinny 8 oz can (like the kind Red Bull comes in) – 6 3/4“
- A 24 oz tall can – 9″
Use a skinny Sharpie to mark off the petals. Now the part about cutting the shapes. You know how empty cans have this way of crinkling and crunching when you push on them? It makes it harder to make the cuts, right? Well here’s a hack you’re going to love…
Fill up the cans halfway with water and put them in the freezer for awhile. This will give the cans more of a “shape” and they will be easier to cut. Sure, they’ll be cold to handle, but much easier, and an x-acto knife will not buckle once. Remove the entire top area that contains the pull tab, as we won’t need this part…
Just want to stress that you don’t need to leave the cans in the freezer too long, and don’t overfill them, either…I had a few of the cans to “bust” on me. They’d been in there over a day. Or maybe I overfilled those …You remember from science class that water expands if it freezes. You can see a single split down the sides, (which is part of the end goal, but you want to do this yourself!)
Leave the water in the cans to melt in the sink… You can take your x-acto knife to start making the cuts. I chose to make only preliminary cuts down the middle, because – well, it’s cold, and if your fingers get numb it’s harder to wield a knife safely.
After the ice melts down somewhat, it’s best if you use your knife to cut off the bottom of the cans. It’ll be less laborious, as once you remove that part it will get a lot easier to cut the petals. I used scissors to shape the petals, some I made wide, some narrow. Can edges are sharp so take your time. let them dry…peel back the petals so they flare out. Try to cut petal shapes with contours, as I have done here – You look at most flower petals in real life and you notice they are not linear. Try to imitate life 🙂
We’re going to spray paint them, I put down this piece of cardboard to protect my work area. I’ve got some I’m trying to use up. I’ve got five colors at the moment. Use long sweeping strokes on each petal so the paint doesn’t clump. I also used one of the ends I cut off to “mask” the center as I gave them a different color.
I thought I’d make one flower kind of layered, so I used the 24 oz can on the bottom and a 12 oz one over it. Also I made the centers green, as far as I know, you never see flowers with green petals. Right?
In case you’re curious about the kind of paint I used…
- Krylon Shimmer Metallics (blue)
- Krylon Fusion Paint + Primer (yellow, green)
- Rust-oleum Satin Enamel (red)
- Rust-oleum Neon Marking Paint (orange)
The Krylon Fusion seemed to offer the best coverage out of all of them, so I would recommend you get some of those in pretty spring-y colors. They work great and will adhere to tricky surfaces like aluminum and metal. Afterward I gave them all a spray-on coat of sealant and proceeded to let them all dry.
To craft the hangers for them, the pull tab on the tops (seen from the back view) can be used to thread your material through. You can use strong cord like jute or like me, wire instead. Also loop the cord through the pull tab and wrap around the can rim so the whole flower won’t bow out.
Hang them on your fence, your trellis, on your privacy screen, wherever your garden could use a little adornment.