‘Tis the season to create and decorate on a budget – at least it is for me – and I recently whipped up some darling ornaments made from empty Diet Coke cans. With just a few simple materials and a bit of time I was able to create several ornaments, and am thrilled with how they turned out! Please keep reading to see how you can make some aluminum star ornaments of your own.
Empty aluminum cans (I used 12 oz. cans)
Small, sharp knife with a pointed tip
Fine grit sand paper
Gesso or white craft paint*
Ball Point Pen
1/8” hole punch
Caution – sharp edges!
Please be careful: the edges of aluminum cans can be very sharp, so it would be wise to wear gloves – especially when first cutting up the cans. I do not recommend this project for children. The finished ornaments should be used and/or displayed in a way that children, animals, and accident-prone adults won’t be able to harm themselves on any pointy edges.
Beginning Your Ornaments
Begin by using a small knife to cut a slit in the aluminum can near to the top. Make an opening big enough to comfortably fit the blades of your scissors into. Use your scissors to cut along the top rim and remove the can top completely. Cut vertically down the side of the can, and then cut along the bottom until you have three pieces: the top, the bottom, and a rectangular piece of aluminum that was the “body” of the can. Carefully discard the top, and rinse the body of the can with water. If desired, put the bottoms aside for use at a later time.
Carefully dry the rectangular piece of aluminum, and trim off any particularly jagged edges that might grab at you while you’re working. Use the fine grit sand paper to sand off any of the can’s coloration or label that you don’t like. I sanded off the smaller Diet Coke logo, but left most of the large red and black shapes. Sand the plain silver side, too, being sure to sand it multiple directions. This will give the metal a nice finish.
Place a piece of aluminum can on on top of a soft surface, like a sofa or a bed, and hammer the piece lightly until it’s flat-ish. (Lay a cloth between the can and your soft surface to avoid scratching anything.) You can strike the piece randomly, and it doesn’t have to be perfectly flat. The goal is just to flatten the rounded curve of the original can to a flatter surface.
Next, dip a paper towel into a small cup of gesso or white craft paint, and smear a thin layer onto the surface of your metal on the printed side, making sure the application is relatively uniform. Let dry for a minute or so, then use another paper towel to wipe off a bit more of the gesso. Let dry completely.
A Star is Born
Use a star stencil that fits on your gessoed aluminum pieces and trace the star shape with a ball point pen. Cut the star out, cutting just inside the inked lines so they don’t appear on your finished piece. Punch a hole on one of the star’s points. You can hang your star with ribbon, fishing line, or an ornament hook.
*Please note: If you’ll only be showing the silver “inside of the can” side of your ornaments, you don’t have to sand the outside of the can or apply the gesso/paint.
I used 6 aluminum cans and made 12 star ornaments, but your results may vary depending on the size of your stars. Please let me know if you have any questions. As always, I’m happy to help and love hearing from you, dear readers! Oh, and be sure to read Tuesday’s post – I’ll be sharing photos of my work cubicle’s 2011 holiday décor, and these star ornaments are among my decorations…