Today I'm going to share with you how I made some Halloween Luminaries
from tin cans and Christmas lights. They turned out even better than I thought
they would and had me on a craft high for two days ; )
I had been hoarding empty tin cans for a few months, with the intent to use them in an
Angry Birds birthday party game...but then I had this Halloween idea and had *just* enough
cans to do it so that each can had one letter and they spelled out "Trick or Treat."
Will have to come up with something else for Angry Birds!
I used a word processing program to print out large letters. I went with Albertsthal Typewriter font, which I downloaded from DaFont for free, but you can do the same technique with any font that you like. You just have to play with the font size to get a good match for your cans. I think mine may have been 350, but I can't remember exactly, and it may be different for different fonts. Mine were so large they ended up printing one letter per page.
You will also need a hammer and at least one large nail, and some scrap wood.
I trimmed my printouts and taped the square of paper to the front of each can as a guide.
If your cans are different sizes, you may have to use certain cans for certain letters.
I had a few smaller ones, and it helped to line them up first.
Then get your hammer ready!
*TIP* I also needed a few pieces of scrap wood to insert
into the can while I hammered. Without this, the nail just sort of bounced
and it would have taken forever and dented all the cans. The support of the wood beneath the
surface helped a lot. Hubs had to tape together a few smaller scraps for the skinny cans.
Another note - I used two different sizes of nails for my cans, because I wanted variation.
You can do the whole thing with the same nail if you like, and the longer the nail the easier it is to hold!
I hit my thumb. A lot. Ha! I would do two or three cans and take a long break and then come back again.
So, I put the wood inside the can, held it between my knees, and hammered, hammered, hammered.
Instead of just hammering a straight line for each letter, which you could do just by drawing them on first, I wanted my luminaries to have the look of the font. So I filled in the black area of my printed letter with an irregular pattern of my two different sizes of nails. Afterward, I just peeled the paper template off.
It looked like this.
And my first few cans looked like this when the hammering step was completed.
I chose to paint my cans with spray paint. It really changed the look of them a lot! I used black, but they could be any color. You could even tape them off and do candy corn stripes!
I used a black gloss paint, but only had enough for minimum coverage. The gloss came out faded and spotty on some cans, with just the one coat, but I think it's a good look for Halloween so I'm pretending I did that on purpose ; ) Look how much the letters show up just by painting the cans!
They look fab even in the daylight.
You could display your luminaries in various ways.
Line them up on a walkway to create a trick or treat path to your door, and put real or battery candles inside. I went the electric route by using white Christmas lights, saving the expense of buying lots
of mini battery candles, and keeping the safety factor for unattended luminaries on Trick or Treat night.
I felt ok about plugged in lights on our porch while we went around the 'hood as a family,
but I was hesitant to leave burning candles without us there.
So I dug out two strands of white icicle lights from our holiday stash,
which worked perfectly for the number of cans I had. We were going to drill a hole in the back
of each can, but our test proved that this would take a LONG time and create really sharp edges
that could be a hazard with lots of wires.
SO, I just lined my cans up in order and gathered three sections of dangling icicles at a time,
rolling them together and putting down in the top of the can. On down the line.
I had three sections of lights per each can.
Moving them into place on the porch was a little tricky at this point. A few strips of black duct tape would help keep each balled up section of lights in the cans, but once in place and tucked in there, it's fine.
I had considered hanging them along the sidewalk by tomato plant stakes, or along the front
of the porch roof, but that would have required a little more work to wire them with hangers.
I ended up just lining my luminary cans on the railing.
This is what they look like at night. So fun!
You know, you could put any kind of design on cans like this and make great luminaries!
Outlines of fall leaves? Bats? Snowflakes for Christmas time would be really pretty : )
Come back again, because I'm going to share the rest of my outdoor decor in the next post!