How To: Make Soda Can Flower Lights

How To: Make Soda Can Flower Lights

Last week I showed you how to make a mini window Japanese garden using 3M's Command Brand Medium Caddy. Today we're going to reach back into the 3M goodie bag and make soda can flower lights, which we'll install using their oh-so-handy Clear Decorating Clips

To start our project, we'll need to gather up the following:
  • 1 - package of Command Clear Decorating Clips
  • 1 - string of clear twinkle lights 
  • Aluminum soda cans rescued from the recycling bin (The size of your flowers and the number of lights on the string will determine how many you'll need)
  • One standard-sized hole punch 
  • A scissors
  • A knife with a serrated blade, optional
  • A paper shaping/die cutting machine (I used a Cuttlebug) and a flower die OR a flower paper punch OR you can cut the flowers by hand
Start by cutting off the top of the soda can with the serrated knife. I find using this kind of knife much easier than getting started with a scissors. (By the way, if you've never cut an aluminum soda can, it super easy and there isn't any sharp edges, really, but if you're worried about such things, you might want to don a pair of gloves.)
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Then, using the scissors, cut down the side of the can and cut off the bottom. You'll end up with something that looks like this: 
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Next, you'll want to wash your aluminum sheets to get all the sticky, leftover soda off the inside.
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After you've dried your aluminum sheets, cut them into manageable strips that are sized to fit the die/punch you're using. I cut these large sheets into fours for my project:
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Now comes the fun part, punching out the flowers. I used a random flower die (about 1-1/2 wide) and my Cuttlebug to do this part, but like I said, you CAN use a regular punch too or even cut them out freehand. If you do use a punch, I wouldn't use an intricate one like a flower with lots of petals. They'll just get hung up in your die. 

Here's a shot of the die I used coupled with the aluminum strip and the plates you use to 'sandwich' them all together.:
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Then you put the 'sandwich' into the Cuttlebug and crank it through. The machine does all the tricky work as it cuts out the image from the aluminum.
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And here's what the aluminum looks like after it's been cut:
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Now, a warning about using a punch for this project. Here's a picture of the flower I made next to a tree I made using a standard punch. Notice how the tree has funky edges and the flower's edges are smooth? That's the difference between using a die cutter and a punch when punching aluminum. So, keep that in mind if you do go with a punch.
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Okay, now back to business. Grab your standard hole punch and punch a hole in the center of your flower.
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Now do that over and over and over again, until you have the same number of flowers as you do bulbs on your string of twinkle lights.
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Next, grab your string lights and pull out the bulbs. Fit one flower over each bulb. Don't worry if it's a snug fit--mine were--just gently push the aluminum up until the flowers are flush with the upper rim of the bulbs. Make sure the leads (those little wires sticking up at the bottom of the bulb) are clear of the aluminum. If they touch the aluminum, don't worry, they won't shock you when you turn on the lights, but if the aluminum does touch the leads, you could short out the bulb. So, trim or fold down the leads a bit, if necessary.
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This is what your soda can lights might look like when they're all finished. Now, what to do with them? I had planned on putting mine outside, but they were so cute, I decided to install them in my craft room. I can always use the light, plus these will make any project I tackle in there much more joyful.
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I decided to use them to frame the workspace around my desk, so, using a 4 foot level, I grabbed my sweetie and the clear Clear Decorating Clips and got to work. He held the level while I positioned the clips about a foot apart. This keeps the lights nice and taut so they don't sag. 
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And here they are, all lit up! Now, you could slip the flowers on the bulbs printed side out for some color, but I LOVE how the light bounces off that lovely aluminum. Another great thing about using aluminum is if you DID use them outside, the aluminum is impervious to the elements unlike, say, paper flowers or cupcake liners. 
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Again, what's great about these new clear Command products is that the adhesive strips are clear so you don't see those white tabs sticking out. Imperative for such an installation!
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DIY Maven on Nov 09, 2012:

@Jesse--Aw, gee....THANKS!!!!

Jesse on Nov 09, 2012:

I adore this project! This is fantastic, I just HAD to share it with my readers today, and I sent them all over here to see the full tutorial.  Great work as usual!


DIY Maven on Aug 16, 2012:

@Robin M---YEAH! Alcohol dyes!! That's a great idea!

@D.M.--Yeah, they do kind of round the edges a bit, unlike standard punches, which makes them wavy. 

DesigningMom on Aug 16, 2012:

It looks as though the cutter rounds the edges when it cuts the shape.

Robin M on Aug 16, 2012:

I am definitely trying these out - planning on using the colored side of the cans (blue, red, orange), or using alcohol dyes to tint the silver side - the wheels are turning with all the possibilities - thanks for posting this great idea!

DIY Maven on Aug 16, 2012:

@Robin M--You'd think so, but, no, they aren't. The only things that are sharp (more like 'pointy') are the corners when you cut out the square. 

Robin M on Aug 15, 2012:

Are the edges sharp? 

Suzie on Aug 06, 2012:

So cute.  I'm lucky enough to have a diecutting machine and dies, as I'm an avid scrapbooker... and I even happen to have some extra packages of little lights.  (I Just need to buy those Command clear holders... what a neat product...I haven't seen those before.)  We've been donating all our cans and bottles this summer, so I'll need to save some for a while...I think I'll need to try to get hubby to drink a few more beers while it's hot out, as I don't drink, and I'm not a soda fan, lol.)  :)   Chug, Sweetie, Chug!  I need those cans!!  :)  Thx for sharing the idea with us.

DesigningMom on Aug 06, 2012:

Sharon, I believe those are the little magnetic spice cans in the frame. I would guess they fabric is covering a piece of sheet metal. Most likely flashing cut to the frames size backed with cardboard so it would fit snuggly in place of the glass.

Sharon H on Aug 06, 2012:

Very nice way to use those soda cans! I've been making brooches and my daughter makes earrings, so now we can dress up the house too! Thanks for sharing! Is there a tutorial for that wall display too? It looks like cans attached to a fabric covered frame, but I can't zoom in close enough to see it.

eli on Aug 06, 2012:

wow your are vey creative. thanks a lot

DesigningMom on Jul 31, 2012:

Very cute idea. I bet you could use scrapbook punches too.

Monsterscircus on Jul 31, 2012:

That's really a brilliant and low cost idea, it looks stunning! Thanks for sharing.

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