Monday, February 28, 2011

Tin Can Frames Tutorial

Here's a little tutorial on how to use tin can lids to frame images and then go from there to making who-knows-what. This how-to project relates to a previous post (Tin Can Door Charm) and involves making simple door charms. In this case, they are Darwinian door charms designed to ward off Creationists.

1. Select an image. For these Darwinian door charms, I'm using a photo I took in Campeche in the Yucatan of a dinosaur exhibit held inside of a desanctified cathedral. Feel free to use this image to make your own Darwinian door charm.

2. Save and wash tin can lids. Keep a bunch handy for future projects. Glue image in the middle of the lid. You may want to glue the image onto another sheet of paper first (see lower left lid) to assure that when the frame is complete you don't have unsightly gaps of tin showing.

3. Image centered and glued to tin can lid.

4. Use needlenose pliers (a toolkit must-have) to bend one edge of the can towards the image.

5. Once you've got the bend started, use the pliers to mash down on the bend, flattening it against the lid.  Press firmly with pliers all along the bend.

6. Bend opposite edge of can lid in the same manner, and proceed to flatten the bend firmly in the same manner.

7. Bend lower edge over and press firmly into place with pliers. Pay particular attention to mashing down the corners so that you don't have sharp edges sticking out.

8. Bend and flatten final edge of can with pliers. At this point you've completed your tin can lid frame.


9. Now you'll employ a soda can flip-top tab as a hanger. First, flatten the tab with your pliers to mash down any sharp edges.

10. Glue the pop-top tab to the back of your frame, with the nicer, smooth side of the tab facing front. I use silocone glue for everything, but use any glue that will work with metal-to-metal bonding.

11. Here I've taken some broken bits of jewelry and glued them to the bottom back of the frame. I then suspended a charm and a little crystal (from my junk jewelry boxes) from them.

11a. Another assemblage of broken jewelry parts glued onto the back of a frame. Note how messy the glue looks on the back. Happily, it doesn't matter.

Here are the finished Darwinian door charms:

Here, the jewelry has been glued onto the front of the piece.

This one fits nicely into my ongoing "What about the cow?" theme. See the postings under the topic area "god" to see more cow pieces.


  1. very clever, i'm gonna have to start collecting my can lids now.

  2. LOVE it! Both the technique and the whole warding off creationists thing! I feel these a-comin' in my future. I will never look at dog food cans in the same way again :)

  3. very cool. Like mexican tin ex-votos


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