luminaries for all + free pattern printables

tin can lanterns

People have been making lanterns from tin cans for a very long time.  Plain or painted, these punched tins will add a little extra glow to your back yard this summer.  Imagine filling your yard with luminaries for an evening BBQ or an outdoor movie screening.  So wow your guests this summer and start saving those tins!

All you need for this project is a washed tin can that has been filled with water and frozen solid, a few nails, punches and a hammer.  Freezing the can with water will all the can to keep it’s shape while you punch all the holes.  I chose a few different sizes of nails.  Don’t forget to wear safety glasses… just in case!

Print out one of the patterns I have provided (links at end of post) for you or create your own.  Tape it to the can, place the can on a thick towel and start hammering.  You’ll be surprised at how easy the nail will go through!

*If you want to hang the tins, put two holes at the top of the tin on opposite sides so the tin can be tied with hanging wire.

When finished, run the tin under some hot water to remove the ice block from inside the can.  Be careful as the inside will have sharp burrs sticking out.

Place tea lights inside.  Battery operated tea light candles are an excellent choice especially if hanging in trees or using near dry plants or fabric.

Large apple juice cans are a great choice as they allow you lots of room to do big designs.  Soup and bean cans work well for smaller designs.  Find the patterns I used, and more, below!

Small can patterns 01
Large can patterns 01
Large can patterns 02

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  1. says

    They are a fresh, lovely and current take on this old craft. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing the patterns! Now we can all make these beauties!

  2. aiasma says

    Doesn’t the ice inside start melting during the process?I tried it once a few years ago and that’s what happened before I was done, so i had to then cover up the holes already made with dough and refreeze with more water.That was quite a pain to be honest.Is there any way to prevent that from happening?

  3. aiasma says

    Oh and I absolutely love the templates!The patterns I made were somewhat wonky but these would be such a great help.Thankyou :)

  4. Inspire Me Heather says

    Your luminaries look great! Thanks for posting the printable templates and for your tutorial and I’ve got this linked to my DIY luminaries post too today!

  5. Pat says

    Thanks for the patterns and clear instructions. I’m wondering if there is something that can be done about the burrs left on the inside. Worried about my grandchildren putting their hands in and getting cut.


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