A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

(not so) Heavy Metal - Part 5 - Tin Can Alley

Ok...so it's not REALLY tin...but aluminium.  However, Aluminium Can Alley just didn't have the "ring" to it.

Just in time for the weekend!!  Want a project for the next few days?  How about gathering up a few (or a bunch) of those aluminium beverage cans???

I'll get you started and then we will make 'em all beautiful the first of next week!

Metal part 5 - Tin Can Alley

Aluminium beverage cans
Heavy duty scissors ("not for fabric" ones)
Cutting Mat
Non-Fabric Rotary Cutter (the one with the duller blade you use for paper, etc.)
Cutting Ruler

After you have gathered up several aluminium beverage cans, wash them thoroughly and let them drain dry. Or...if you are like me and have absolutely NO patience.  You can begin working with them a bit wet. Here's the one I'm working with for this demo. (We don't drink canned beverages but thankfully, I have a neighbor whose kids have their share. They kindly donated theirs to this project.)

Main instruction for this project...

BE  VERY  CAREFUL!!!  These cans are thin metal and can be quite sharp. You probably should work with leather gloves on. (I can't work like that but then...I have the cuts to prove it.)

Now with that said...on to the fun part.

Step 1 - Off The Top (and bottom)

You need to cut off the ends of the cans. I use an old but very sturdy pair of scissors. I don't think they will cut paper even any more but they are great for cans and other metal!

First poke the end of the scissors into the can just under the curve of the top.

The cut all the way around to remove the top of the can.  Or you can use your scissors as a "saw" to go around the can.  Until the last bit which is easier to remove by cutting it off with the scissors used the way they were meant to be used.  ;-)

Now do the same to remove the bottom of the can. You will end up with three pieces.  Two ends and a metal "tube"

Step 2 - Open Wide

For now we will just be dealing with the body of the can (the "tube" part).
Next, cut down the length of the "tube" to open it up. Lay it out as flat as you can on a cutting mat.  Again - BE CAREFUL!!! There are burrs on the edges and they can really poke you!

Now to make it a bit safer to work with, cut off the burred edges. I want a straight line for this piece so I use my non-fabric rotary cutter to remove the rough edges. I suggest you throw them in the garbage right away. It is NOT fun to find them in a pile of various bit later on.  It can be a painful surprise!

Step 3 - Flat as a Pancake

The final step in this preparation is to try to flatten it out more but without creasing it.  I use a "fat" glue stick and wrap it around the opposite way from it's now natural bend.  Then secure it with a rubber band.  Leave it wrapped like this until it flattens out as much as it can without curling in the opposite direction too much.

For the work we are going to do with this the beginning of next week, we need it as flat as possible.

So, go off an gather your aluminium can while you may.  You might want to prep several for next week.


  1. Now I might just have to try this! You had me at "tin can"!

  2. Wow - all the things you are doing with metal are fabulous! In this and prior posts. I would definitely cut myself.

  3. I saw an entire wall installation of cans like this that had been printed on an Epson printer


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