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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
To make the discs into charms, I added a little hole at the top of each disc using the metal punch pliers.
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!
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.
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.
To make them straight and clean, squeeze over your folds with a pair of chain nose pliers.
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.
Using the marks you made, punch your holes using the riveting and piercing system.
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.
I then polished up the banner with pro polish pads.
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).
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.
I really love how these pieces turned out and I hope you do too!