I often head for the children’s craft section at the library and find the old 1970s craft books with the coolest projects. The tin can lantern is a project from one of the very best books from that era – Making Things – that you might remember if you grew up then. My neighbor remembers making them in cub scouts.
You gather some tin cans of varying sizes, wash them and then take off the paper.
Then, you fill them with water and put them in the freezer for a day. The idea is to pound holes of varying sizes into the can to make a design, but if you don’t have frozen water in the can, the nail bounces off or else dents the can. Don’t worry about the swelling at the bottom. It doesn’t affect the working of the lantern.
Next, you mark a design on the cans with a Sharpie.
Then, you find nails of varying thicknesses.
And hammer nails into the cans. The kids loved doing this part. When the ice melts at the top of the can, you can refill it and put it back in the freezer.
After that, let the ice melt and dry the cans.
You can also give the cans a coat of paint. Katie loaned me her can of the gold spray paint she recently used on her kitsch lamp.
When the paint dries, you can use tin snips to cut lines around the top and then bend down the pieces to make a decorative top (this step is optional — be careful if using around children, the edges are sharp).
Once you add some wire, they’re ready to hang.
With a pillar candle inside you have a lovely outdoor lantern to add some 70s charm to your home. I plan to use them for an al fresco meal sometime soon.