Beautiful Tin Cans Before And After


Hello everyone!  Hope you had a swell weekend.  We did.  We saw our friend Kate performing in a great classic Goldoni play out in a park in Lake Oswego.  She is part of Masque Alfresco this summer, and the show rotates Park locations and runs through August if you’re in the area.  Then we got invited to the cast party, and had a great time meeting new theatre friends and getting caught up with old ones.  Not that they’re old, at least not all of them, but our friendship has endured for some time!


I am on a quest to use up crafting materials that I already have on hand, and so I made a list of what I had hanging around and remembered that I had several #10-size cans that at one time held Costco-sized tomato sauce.  (We transfer it to 2-cup sized containers and bags, and then freeze it for use–less than half the price of smaller cans.)  So I had these big empty cans, and something told me to save them.  I washed them and kept them.


For quite a while.


Today I decided that I should do something creative with them, using what I had available here at the house.


I went on Pinterest, of course, for inspiration.  I got sidetracked (imagine that, on Pinterest!), and I started reading about homemade Mod Podge.  And that is when I came up with my idea for my tin cans.


Here is the before of the cans:



And here’s what they look like after:



It was pretty simple.  I started by spray painting the top and bottom edges with Krylon spray paint in Blue Ocean Breeze–love that shade.  I then had one extra can that still had the label on it, so I carefully took that off and used it as a pattern to cut out the decorative papers that I used.  The green-striped and the white-patterned ones are wallpaper, and the antique map one is giftwrap.


I made homemade Mod Podge, consisting of half white school glue and half water (although some recipes called for an optional 1 teaspoon of varnish, I omitted this), which I measured into a glass jar with a lid, and then shook it well to mix it.  I used a 1-inch brush to brush the Mod Podge mixture onto the back of the paper, and then I glued the paper to the cans, and let them dry.  The heavier wallpaper was a little easier to glue in place than the giftwrap, so just take a little extra time and patience if you choose to use a lighter-weight paper.  I plan to use these indoors for decorative purposes, so they are fine as is.  If you want, you could give them a coat of clear satin waterbased polyurethane to protect the paper.  If you like, you could also add paper glued to the inside of the can and you could hot glue some grosgrain ribbon to cover the inner top edge of the can, which does have a couple of sharp spots on it from the can opener.


Here are a few different looks you can try if you want to make some decorative tin cans of your own:



This map paper reminded me of ancient Greece with a nautical feel, so I went with it, and added in a copy of Homer’s Iliad, a basket and some sea shells, as well as pretty bottle with an “Athena” label on it!  A friend gave it to us one night when we were singing at a local piano bar, and I loved it and use it to decorate.


I love everything about peacock feathers–gorgeous colors–so that was my inspiration, along with some natural shades of tan, as well as smooth and rough textures in the other items to balance everything out.


I knew I wanted some bright pink with this when I saw that white decorated can, so I ran out to the garden and picked a handful of roses, and a white filler called Clethra.  The other items were thrift store finds, and the blue bottle on the right was a gift from my Mother one Christmas years ago.


I hope this post causes you to look at a tin can in a new light!


What creative things have you done with tin cans or Mod Podge, store-bought or homemade?  I’d love to hear all about it in the comments, so stop by for a visit!


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Till next time, 


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About AthenaMG

Athena McElrath is a Master Gardener with a love for gardening, decorating and cooking inexpensively. She enjoys working out in her urban garden in Southwest Washington State, watching the hummingbirds and other birds and insects, eating the wonderful vegetables, fruits and herbs that she produces from her garden, and just having a great time hanging out under the pergola with her family and friends (that is, whenever it stops raining long enough).
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23 Responses to Beautiful Tin Cans Before And After

  1. Love the use of the cans….practical and pretty – especially the map can – wouldn’t that look fantastic on a desk holding pencils! Great idea! Linda

    • AthenaMG says:

      Hi Linda: Thank you so much for the kind comments. Yes, I think you could cover any size can you like with this method. My mom used to cover orange juice concentrate cans with pretty paper to become a pencil holder!

  2. Athena,

    I love your cans. They are lovely. My aunt made a mod podged can for me from one that was very tall, which I have used over the years for umbrellas, waste basket and storing stuff. I love it. I have pinned the mod podge recipe myself off of Pinterest. One of my favorite Pinterest pins is the one for dark chocolate frozen bananas. Those have become a staple around my house.

    Yael from Home Garden Diggers

    • AthenaMG says:

      Hi Yael: Glad you liked the decorated cans, and I like how your aunt reused a tall can–that’s a great idea. And Dark chocolate frozen bananas–yummy! Perfect for a hot day. Have a great week!

  3. this is a great idea for recycling objects. they really turned out beautiful.

  4. Liz says:

    Hi Athena, look at all the great vignettes you created with your covered cans! They really add a great touch. Good idea taking stock of what supplies are on hand and using them. I know I certainly have tons of stuff I should make good use of. Thanks for the reminder! And thanks for stopping over at my place and leaving me such a thoughtful comment. I do appreciate it as well as your visit. Hope you’ll be back!

  5. These cans are really lovely. I especially love the white wallpaper one with the gorgeous pink roses. Great idea and beautifully done! You also have a real knack for staging a photo.

  6. Poppy says:

    Wow! These look so beautiful ! I love the vignettes you created with them, especially the “Athena” vignette and the white can with red roses…so beautiful they look! Thanks for sharing the home made mod podge recipe and the helpful tip of using the label as a template for the decorative paper. Love how you spray painted the edges with aqua….lovely way to finish them off:).Beautiful project! Thanks for sharing and for your sweet comment. Always a pleasure hearing from you. Happy Saturday!Hugs,Poppy

  7. I am loving the tin can projects that I am seeing on blogland! Yours look fantastic!

  8. Danni Baird says:

    Those are wonderful! I like the map one best!

    • AthenaMG says:

      Hi Danni: Thank you for the feedback. I love that map paper–it’s gift wrap I got for a gift for my hubby–he loves history, and it was just right!

  9. Donna Wilkes says:

    I love it when a project re-uses an item that would otherwise be thrown out. Plus you managed to use up some of your craft supplies – something I cannot seem to do. These would make an excellent storage!

    • AthenaMG says:

      Thank you, Donna, for the encouragement–I like to use what I have on hand rather than going out and spending money, if possible!

  10. Well I will not look at cans the same way anymore, because now they are beautiful. Love all of them, but especially the map one, look oh so vintage! How do you feel about the made hodgepodge, I’ve heard different things, are you happy with it? You staged your vignettes so prettily! I’m going to have to get a can of that Krylon ocean breeze, looks like a very pretty color! So glad you shared your creative inspiration with Sunday’s Best – your creativity helped make the party a success! Now following you on Facebook!

    • AthenaMG says:

      Hi Cathy: Thank you for stopping by for a visit! So far, I like the homemade mod podge. I would like to try it with the varnish added to see what that’s like. I didn’t coat the cans after the paper was applied, and I would like to try that to see what the finish is like as well–I just ran out of time this time around. I like the Ocean Breeze color as well–glad you liked it!

  11. This is a great idea!!! I am hosting a Giveaway to win a 50 dollar gift card to the store HomeGoods. It would be great if you stopped by and entered. Thanks Anu

  12. Jana says:

    Love the look that you did on your tin cans too. Thanks for stopping by my little blog and leaving a comment. I couldn’t email you back to say “Thanks” it shows no reply blogger. So I wanted to come by your site. What a nice surprise to see that you did some transformations of you own on some cans. I’ve been saving cans for a couple of weeks to do some more projects with. I noticed in the photo you did some with wallpaper, I have some wallpaper boarders that I might try on mine too.
    Anyway, thanks again and I’m off to view some more of your blog.
    Have a great weekend,