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How to Make a Tin Can Luminary

A tin can luminary is a fun, easy craft project for all ages. They are great for any holiday and only limited by your imagination! You can transfer any simple shape onto a tin can to create a beautiful candle holder for any occasion.

I chose to make luminaries for Christmas this year. You can choose any simple design to transfer onto your tin can. I used a favorite clip art program on my computer to look for easy Christmas designs to print out. I chose a Christmas tree, a snowman, and a pair of gingerbread men.

Here's what you need to get started:

- Empty tin cans (washed and labels removed)
- Design to transfer onto can
- Hammer
- Large nail
- Tape
- Dish towel

It is easiest to punch the holes in your tin can if you freeze some water in it first. Fill the can with water, leaving 1/4 inch space at the top for the ice to expand. Place in freezer until frozen. Your can may bulge a little at the bottom while in the freezer, but after you remove the ice you can use the hammer to flatten out the bottom of the can.

You might want to freeze a couple more cans then you think you'll need in case you make a mistake and have to start over again.

After the ice has frozen, take the tin can from the freezer and tape your design to the can. I used packing tape, but you can also use duct tape. The tape won't stick to the cold can, but you can wrap the tape all the way around the can so it will stick to the paper.

If you don't have a design on paper, you can also draw a design on the can freehand with a permanent marker. You can also just punch the design freehand without drawing it first.

Lay the can on a folded dish towel so the towel will catch the ice chips that try to escape. It will also hold the can in place. Using the hammer and nail, tap holes around the border of your design, trying to punch holes evenly and not too close together. You want a simple design so that when you see only the holes in the can you will be able to tell what it is!

After punching the holes, remove the paper and tape and admire your design. It is really so easy! If you plan to hang your luminary, also punch two holes at the top of the can. You can make a handle out of wire (from a craft store) or a wire coat hanger.

Place the tin can under running warm water to melt the ice. Dry the can with a towel and place a votive candle in the bottom. You will need a long lighter or match to light the candle.

To further decorate your tin can luminary, you can spray paint the can any color you wish. Be creative!

This is a great family project. Just make sure kids have adult supervision while using the hammer and nails. Have fun!

Copyright 2011, Creative Homemaking, LLC.




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Rachel Paxton
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