A Beautiful Mess

abeautifulmess.com · Nov 25, 2014

Tin Punched Votive Candles

I have absurdly fond memories of childhood crafts. Paper bag puppets, woven baskets, pop-up cards, and yes, even colorful beans glued to a paint-stirrer in the name of a Mother's Day gift for my poor mom. My heart raced with each craft I made. But perhaps my favorite craft was taught to me by my third grade teacher, Mrs. Kendall. She brought in canning jar lids and templates and allowed us to tin-punch ornaments as Christmas gifts for our parents. I loved it!

Recently I saw these charming tin-punched candle holders at Crate and Barrel and immediately drifted off to that exhilarating third grade craft day. I thought making my own version of these candle holders would be terrifically nostalgic, not to mention a great almost-free way to decorate our holiday table.

-tin can (opened and emptied)
-gold and white spray paint (or multi-surface acrylic paint)
-tape (preferably duct tape)
-printed template (I simply printed out large letters to spell a word, though you can find lots of tin-punch patterns with a quick Internet search.)

-mallet or hammer
-punch or nail
-brush (if not using spray paint)

Step One: Remove the labels and adhesive from the cans, thoroughly clean each can, then dry completely. I removed the label adhesive with a mixture of olive oil and baking soda.

Step Two: Fill each can with rice and water to the top. Freeze completely. This will provide a stable can for punching, preventing the can from denting or collapsing.

Step Three: Tape a printed template onto the can by wrapping the can with duct tape. The tape will not stick to a frozen can, but the tape will stick to the paper—hence the wrapping of the can. Use a punch tool or nail to hammer nail-sized holes along the border of the template. Make sure the holes are at least the diameter of a standard nail, or the light will not properly show through the finished candle holders.

After punching the rice and ice filled cans, defrost them in a container of warm water before proceeding to the next step. You don't have to completely defrost— just a few minutes in the warm water will allow you to dump out the rice ice cubes.

Tip: Punch both sides of the can if you plan to place the candle holders down the center of a table— but if you do, plan for the letters being in a different order!

Step Four: Prime the cans. Then paint the inside with gold paint and the outside with white (or the color of your choice). It's important to prime the cans to ensure the adhesion of the paint. While the image above shows brush painting, I found through trial and error that spray paint worked best. I sprayed the insides of the cans with gold spray paint, then after that dried, turned the cans upside-down and sprayed with light coats of white paint.

Safety Tip: It's safe to burn real candles inside of the finished candle holders, though you should make sure the spray paint has cured for 24 hours. If you are planning on using these before that time, I recommend using LED votives or tea lights.

This is a great craft to do with children age 9 . You can spell out any word that holds special meaning for your family, or maybe print out some decorative tin-punch templates you find online. Stars or snowflakes would be so charming! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.

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