Canned Luminaries

I want to step out of the mason jar box for a bit. I know, I know, every rustic wedding should have mason jars for everything. But I want to step out of that box…just for a second…and make some different luminaries. I found these really early on in the planning phase of things, and have really thought they would make a better (and safer) type of luminary than those bag luminaries we always see.

These people are VERY ambitious, I was not so ambitious, but since I am doing A LOT of cans, the simpler the design the better.

So of course here we go…Materials:

1) Cans, we are using Progresso Soup Cans, mostly because they are larger. When you get the cans you need, fill them with water and put them in the freezer overnight. This is a pretty important step!

2) Paper, probably a thicker weight

3) Pencil

4) Marker

5) Scissors

6) Hammer

7) Nail, you want it to be big enough to hold, but small enough to only poke small holes. You can use a big nail and just make sure to hammer in only the tip. I wish I had a slightly bigger nail for this endeavor.

8 Paint of desired color, and brush

After you gather all of your stuff together, you need to decide on what picture you want to be illuminated. I decided on butterflies, which is quickly becoming a side theme for me. My butterfly tattoos were the template for the butterflies made for the cans. So create a template and then trace it on your paper.

If you cut a regular piece of paper in half that should be the perfect size to fit your can. Once you trace the outline of your image, it helps to go over it with marker, so it’s easier to see.

The dark line really helps when you begin to make the holes. Now that you have your pattern…make more…a lot more. Well I guess it depends on how many of these you want, you will need a new pattern for each can you decide to make. Once you have enough patterns, grab a frozen can from your freezer.

Here is where things might be a little tricky for you. If your cans reacted like mine, the water expanded downward, not upward, and popped the bottom of the can a little. Also, when the can expanded outward, some of the cans busted their sides. None of this is worrisome. You can still do the project with a ripped can, unless the whole can split up the side. Also, the expanded bottoms can be banged in with your hammer after all is said and done.

Next, tape your pattern around the frozen can with some tape. Sorry! Once again I have not pictured something you need in the Materials picture…but yeah…tape…you need it…

Now it’s time to break out the hammer and nail. It’s a good idea to cover the floor in towels as well as have an extra towel to help hold the can. Take your nail and tap it a few times around the outline of your desired shape. The ice is there to give your nail some resistance so it doesn’t bend the aluminum.


Here is where things got funny. My dad and the boy wanted to work on this as well, but thought they had a much more clever and faster way to do this. They pull out the power drill with a small bit all ready to conquer the can project. Not only did they break TWO drill bits, but the end result leaves a rough edge where the drill pulled out of the hole. Men. They think they know everything. 🙂 So word to the wise…do not use a drill.

You’ll notice, as you move forward, that the can starts to collect condensation and the marker starts to run, the paper can also start to rip. Don’t worry too much. The ice will never melt enough where hammering becomes impossible, and you just have to be really careful to not rip the paper. Once you have traced your pattern(s) you can remove the paper, and you pretty much have a finished luminary.

Before you can do anything else to it, you have to melt the ice. You can do this the slow way, or the quick way. The quick way being running the can under the hot water and watching the ice melt.

Now you can leave your can like this, for a more industrial feel, or you can jazz it up a bit with some paint!

I chose to use blue, but I think I will also paint some yellow! Once it is all painted you are truly done! If you would like to use a real candle, there is really no fire hazard, or you can just use those battery operated candles that will burn all night long. Either way, I think this will be a delightful luminary to light the way to the reception area!

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3 thoughts on “Canned Luminaries

  1. Pingback: Projects Progress and Recap | Flat Broke Bride

  2. Pingback: Vacation Is Great For Completing DIY Projects! | Flat Broke Bride

  3. Pingback: In Which Chaos Ensues & DIY Recap | Flat Broke Bride

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