Upcycle aluminum cans like soda cans, and beer cans into quirky vases using spray paint.
Today the Thrift Store Team is upcycling and recycling all kinds of plastic containers, coffee cans, wine bottles, and more to celebrate Earth Day. The projects are amazing. My upcycled can vases are a knock-off of popular West Elm vases, which are very pricy.
I started my upcycle project with these beer cans but soda cans or any aluminum cans will work just fine.
My inspiration for this project is the Pretti.Cool Soda Can Vases from West Elm. They are made out of concrete, and the cost is $45 per vase for a total of $225 for all five vases. Seems a bit steep to me, even for concrete. I made my five vases for less than $25. After reading my project tutorial, let me know how you feel about mine vs theirs'.
I think mine turned out great, better than expected! Get ready for the tutorial. Also, the Thrift Store Team project links are at the bottom of the post.
The aluminum cans are much lighter than concrete, so I filled my cans with sand, only about halfway full. The weight of the sand should keep the cans from tipping over; since the cans are only half full, the sand shouldn't spill out if they do tip over.
After I filled the cans with sand, I crushed them with my hand. They crush easily and you can make various crimped and crumpled shapes just by squeezing different areas of the can. I didn't do anything special just tried to make each can look a bit different from the others.
These are the three cans I started painting. After I painted them, I pulled more cans out of my recycle bin and spray paint colors from my stash and decided to go with an all-out copycat project of the West Elm Vases.
I ordered the Rustoleum Chalked Charcoal and the Rustoleum Cinnamon in anticipation of this project. I had the other paints on my shelf already.
The individual colors in order are; Cinnamon, Chalked Charcoal, Wildflower Blue, Tuscan Sun, and my all-time favorite off-white spray paint Heirloom Satin. All of the spray paint I used for this project is Rust-Oleum brand.
In order to keep the spray paint from running, I applied several light coats to the cans letting the coats dry in between applications. It did take a bit of paint to cover the bold writing on the cans.
Once I had the aluminum cans spray painted and dried, I pulled out several colors of acrylic paint. I selected a really light yellow, a pale gray, maroon, navy, black, tan, and white.
I've used a baby bottle brush to add specks of paint to furniture before, so I started working with the bottle brush on the cans. I poured the acrylic paint colors onto a paper plate and dipped the brush tips into the paint. Then I wiped some of the paint from the bristles using a paper towel.
Next, I touched the brush to the painted can until there was no more paint coming off of the brush, then I repeated the process, dipping the brush in the paint, wiping some off, then applying the paint to the can using the brush.
I went through three different brushes, including a vegetable cleaning brush and a wire brush, because the bottle brush was not working exactly like I wanted. But, for putting paint speckles on the cans, the bottle brush seemed to do the best job.
And that is all there was to this project. Seriously, it was not time-consuming and not a difficult project at all.
The total project time was probably 3 hours from start to finish. I was working on other projects while the cans were drying.
I wasn't trying to match the West Elm Soda Can paint colors exactly, just the general color and paint idea.
The spray painted and paint speckled can vases make me smile.
It's hard to figure out the cost of my can vases because the cans do not need a whole can of spray paint for coverage, and I used very little acrylic paint for the speckles on the cans.
All 5 of the West Elm vases would cost $225.00 plus tax and shipping costs. I'm going to say that all 5 of my DIY Upcycled Aluminum Can Vases cost $25 to make—pretty good savings.
Please leave me a note if you have time before you take off on the tour. Tour the other recycle/upcycle projects in honor of Earth Day by clicking the text links below the "before" makeovers photo collage.
Thrift Store Decor Tour, Recycled and Upcycled Projects....
DIY Upcycle Ideas from Your Recycle Bin - My Repurposed Life
How To Upcycle Aluminum Cans Into Vases - Petticoat Junktion (you are here)
Upcycling a Coffee Canister with Cork Fabric - Sadie Seasongoods
DIY Wine Bottle Tiki Torch - My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Recycling Bin Propagation Station - Organized Clutter
Recycle Bin Craft - Shop At Blu
As always, thanks for being here, Kathy
Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com