Ultimate Guide to Recycled Aluminum Can Crafts

Recycled Aluminum Can Jewelry

To turn aluminum cans into necklaces, bracelets, brooches and earrings, you'll need a few supplies:

  • Jewelry findings, such as pin backs, clasps, wire, jump rings (the rings that attach pendants to chains), pendant chains and earring hooks and backs (available at most craft stores)
  • Needle-nose pliers to attach the findings to the cans and each other
  • A hole-punch tool

You may also want to play with eyelets or rivets, for which you'll need a riveter or eyelet setter. To create circular pieces of aluminum or to cut perfectly round holes, you may want to invest in a metal disc cutter, which can double as a hole punch. Aluminum discs can turn into pendants, earrings, charms on a bracelet ... the possibilities are endless.

Almost any part of a can can be turned into jewelry. Designs range from the low-budget and funky to the avant-garde. Crafters have linked together pop-tabs into a modified chain, played mischievously with the can's familiar pop graphics and icons, turned the can's natural curve into a cuff bracelet and reshaped the metal into delicate floral earrings [sources: UrbanWoods, FunkyRecycling, D-Licious, Ramsay]. You might want to start with a simple design and work your way up. As you get a feel for the material and the tools, you'll be able to experiment more.

Because jewelry comes into contact with clothing and skin, you must be extra careful to finish every edge and remove all sharp spots and snags. One crafter presents a clever alternative: using the manufacturer's design on the aluminum to add color, and mounting the aluminum on a precut metal disc with duller edges [source: The New New].

If you decorate your jewelry with paint, seal it with a clear lacquer or sealant. Unsealed color can easily rub off onto skin and clothes. Spray lacquer will give you a light matte or glossy finish. Use a sponge brush to apply brush-on lacquer, which provides a thicker (and sometimes more "vintage-y") finish.

You may be tempted to sell your work. If you've come up with your own designs, go for it! If you've been closely imitating another artist's designs, though, you may want to read about the ethics of DIY design and copyright infringement [source: Jewelry Making].

On the next page learn how to put the "can" in "candleholder."