Earth Day Jewelry From Aluminum Cans!

Upcycled Aluminium Can Jewelry

Since Earth Day is just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to make some jewelry from upcycled materials. I love working with metal, so I thought making something with aluminum cans would be super fun!

I hope you enjoy these projects as much as I do. Don’t be shy – let us know what you came up with!

Tools and Supplies:
All you need to make some upcycled jewelry
There are a variety of tools you can use based on your budget. I showed a couple of the more expensive tools above, but if you keep reading, you’ll see there are other low-cost alternatives that will create pretty much the same effect. For the first few pieces I made I used a disc cutter with a brass hammer (a regular household hammer would work fine), metal hole punch pliers, metal shears and an emery stick. I found some soda cans use in the recycling bin and went looking for additional cans with fun patterns at my local grocery store.

Take a break, have a drink
First, you need to empty out and clean the inside of your can. I drank my mango drink while I was working (it was delicious) and then rinsed the can out with water. I placed the can upside down on a folded piece of paper towel so that any excess liquid could run out. It’s a good idea to get rid of as much moisture as possible, as any liquid could rust your tools!

TIP careful which can you use
Do be careful if you are buying cans from the store! I found this cool grape drink but realized after I got home that the design was a plastic coating and was not printed on the aluminum. Sadly, this won’t work for my project.

punch the can with an awl
Once your can is as dried out as possible, you need to make a hole in the side using an awl. Make sure the hole is high up and not in the middle of any part of the design which you might later want to use. From here on, you want to work slowly and extra carefully as the cut aluminum can get very sharp!

Cut the top off can
Once you’ve made a hole you can enlarge it a little and then get in there with your metal shears (scissors might even work OK too as aluminum is pretty thin). Carefully cut off the top of your can. (I made sure to trim my edges as I went so as to avoid cutting myself).

Cut down the side and cut off the bottom too
Once the top is off, cut down one side, and then cut the bottom off. Again, trim any jagged edges. You could also file them to make sure there is nothing to accidentally cut you.

Flatten out the can
Lay out the piece of aluminum as best you can, wipe it down if you need – some liquid could still have been inside (make sure to wipe your tools too).

Carefully place the sheet in the disc cutter
Now, carefully place the metal into the disc cutter. You can view the sheet from above to choose the layout of the pattern. I did three different sizes of disc for my charm bracelet. For more detailed instructions on using a disc cutter, take a look here.

gently cut out different size circles
Gently cut out the discs using your hammer. Since the aluminum is super thin, you don’t actually need to hit the hammer very hard.

Now you have lots of circles to play with
I cut out as many circles I could from one can of soda. If your edges are too sharp, go ahead and file them with an emery stick.

punch holes in the sheet using metal punch pliers10
To make the discs into charms, I added a little hole at the top of each disc using the metal punch pliers.

Charm bracelet with punched out circles
Here is the first charm bracelet I made with my soda discs. To make this bracelet, I used chain, jump rings and a toggle clasp and this technique.
I think one of the best parts about this bracelet is the tinkling sound it makes when I wear it!

If you find a more unusual can pattern you can choose your cut outs much more carefully
The mango soda I found had such a unique pattern that I ended up being far more particular when choosing the areas I wanted to cut with the disc cutter.

You could try this design if you want a variation on a charm bracleet
For this bracelet I chose the orange, white, and green areas. (This is a great alternative design to a charm bracelet). Again, I used chain, jump rings and a toggle clasp and this technique to make this bracelet.

Earrings work well too, and they are not heavy at all
For the earrings, I tried to match up each disc so the earrings would look almost identical. I love these earrings, since they are so light and such a fun design!

a make a cute heart
I got so into making upcycled aluminum jewelry that I took it to the next level with this little heart necklace!

 You can cut the can with a paper punch
Since I didn’t want to draw a heart freehand, I chose our heart punch to cut out my shape. This is a great inexpensive alternative to the disc cutter! You can see all the different kinds of punches we sell here.

make sure to apply pressure evenly when you punch
When using the paper punches, it is important to get even pressure. If you don’t, the punch won’t punch properly.

the punch can make really cute shapes
Look at that perfect heart shape. I couldn’t cut it out like that if I tried!

Punch out a lot of hearts
I ended up punching out 6 hearts. Since the aluminum is so thin, I thought stacking them would give the pendant more weight.

Cut out a long strip of metal
To make the banner that runs across the front of the heart, you want to start with one straight strip of metal.

bend one corner
Place the strip metal side up and fold one corner backwards and downwards.

bend the end of that piece up
Fold that same end upwards to the right.

cut out a triangle shape from the end
Cut out a small triangle at the end of the fold.

squeeze with pliers
To make them straight and clean, squeeze over your folds with a pair of chain nose pliers.

Repeat on the other side, and rotate
Repeat those folds and cuts in the same way on the other side of the sheet and rotate 180°. Look at that cute banner!

place the banner over the heart and mark spot for the hole
Now you want to get your spacing right. Place the banner over the heart and figure out the exact position you would like it to be in. Using the awl (or a pen) mark where you want your first set of holes to go.

punch your holes
Using the marks you made, punch your holes using the riveting and piercing system.

Gently stamp your word
Once you’ve punched your holes you can stamp in any text or message. I used a metal alphabet stamp and the same hammer I used with the disc cutting. To learn more about metal stamping, click here. Make sure you stamp softly as the aluminum is very thin and you could easily stamp all the way through.

color the word with sharpie
To make the words stand out, I used a Sharpie marker to fill them in.

polish with a pro polish pad
I then polished up the banner with pro polish pads.

look how cute it looks
It’s starting to take shape!

use the banner as a template
Now, place the banner over the heart you want to use on top. Measure out the second round of holes. (You can always avoid making holes with the punch pliers and not use rivets at all. Instead, you could use glue to secure the sheet to itself).

Stack and layer your heart
Gather all the layers of the heart and line them up with each other.

Punch and add the rivets
Using the riveting and piercing system, punch out the two holes while going through all 6 hearts at one time. Add the banner to the stack and rivet the eyelets through the two holes you just made. To learn more about riveting, click here.

mark where you want the other rivers
You still need a couple more eyelets to connect your chain to and stabilize all the sheet you have used.

add rivets
Add your final three eyelets – two on the top and one at the bottom of the heart.

Love Pendant Made From Old Soda Can
You can attach chain and a toggle using jump rings to the two open eyelets at the top of the heart, and voilà! You have an adorable handmade upcycled soda can pendant!

IMG_5364

I really love how these pieces turned out and I hope you do too!

Happy Earth Day! – Sam
Sam

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