Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg.
We’re going to recycle a soda can by turning it into earrings.
We’ll use a scrapbooking paper punch to cut out shapes from the can:
Then we can make chandelier earrings with dangles:
. . . or simple earrings with long graceful earwires:
- An empty aluminum beverage can (soda can, etc.).
- Regular household scissors with pointed tips – for cutting the can.
- Eye protection (safety goggles / glasses) – to wear while cutting and punching your metal can.
- Protective glove – for the hand that holds the cut-up can (I used a stainless-steel fillet glove – very useful if you often work with sharp materials. Find these gloves in fishermen’s supplies, outdoor / camping stores, Amazon, Walmart, etc.).
- Decorative paper punches (often found in scrapbooking supplies) – with a punch design that’s a good size for earrings.
The decorative punches I used have a design that’s about 1″ (25.4mm) at the widest part.
- Small-hole paper punch – I used 1/16″ (2mm) size (it’s smaller than a standard household paper hole punch). You could also use a metal jewelry punch.
- Super-fine tip Sharpie marker – for marking where you’ll make the holes for earwires, dangles, etc.
- Earwires – in this tutorial I use these earwires:
Easy Fancy Earwires Tutorial
Long Earwires Tutorial (the medium size, 45mm earwires).
You can also use pre-made earwires.
- Small charms – to use as dangles.
- Small jump rings to attach dangles to earrings.
- Chain nose / flat nose pliers – to open and close earrings.
How to Turn an Aluminum Can
into a Metal Sheet
When we cut up the can, the metal edges will be sharp.
I recommend wearing safety goggles / glasses for eye protection, as well as a protective glove on the hand that holds the metal.
As I mentioned in the Supplies list above, I used this stainless-steel fillet glove:
When you punch the shapes out of the aluminum sheet, the punching process blunts the edges of the shape, so it’s not sharp anymore.
We’ll start with an empty aluminum drink can that’s been thoroughly rinsed out with soapy water and air dried:
Put on your safety goggles and glove, and get ready to cut up your can:
We’ll use regular pointy-tipped household scissors.
Keeping the scissors closed, stab the point of the scissors into the side of the can, just below the top of the can.
To preserve the best part of the can’s design for your project, the scissors should puncture the least interesting side of the can:
Pull the scissors out of the hole you just made in the can.
Now open the scissors and insert the bottom blade of your scissors into the hole you made in the can.
Then cut the can straight down the side to the bottom:
Your can should look like this:
We want to turn this can into a flat sheet of metal.
So we’ll use the scissors to cut along the top and bottom edges of the can, removing the tapering ends of the can as well as the top and bottom surfaces of the can.
Now you should have the main part of the can by itself, and the top and bottom of the can still attached to the tapering ends of the can:
Your aluminum can probably has rough, splintery edges from the cutting:
Use your scissors to trim off all roughness so the metal edges are straight and unblemished.
Now your can should look like this:
Your sheet of aluminum will probably want to keep curling up.
Here’s how we’ll get it to flatten out:
Being very careful of sharp edges, roll up the metal sheet from one end to the other, with the colored side on the inside.
Now roll it up (again with the colored side to the inside) from top to bottom.
You may have to do this a few times to get the metal to relax enough to use it for your project:
How to Make
Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings:
Now that you have a nice flat aluminum sheet, it’s time to punch out our aluminum shapes.
So get out the decorative paper punch you’ll use for your earrings:
Turn the paper punch upside down, so that its punching end is pointing up:
Now you can easily choose exactly the part of the can’s design you want to punch out for your earrings.
(If you punch with the the punching end pointing down, you can only guess whether you’re punching the area you wanted from the can’s design):
Punch out two pieces from your aluminum can:
Now decide where you want to punch the hole for your earwire – plus holes for any dangles you want to add to your earrings.
Use a super-fine tip Sharpie marker to mark where you want those holes:
I used a 1/16″ (2mm) paper punch to punch the holes (it’s smaller than a standard household paper hole punch). You could also use a jewelry metal punch:
Go ahead and punch the holes where you marked them on your aluminum shapes:
I used three small brass charms to dangle from the bottom of each earring:
Here’s how to attach dangles to your aluminum shapes.
The instructions for each step are below this photo:
- Photo 1:
Use your flat nose and chain nose pliers to twist open a jump ring for each charm; then thread the opened jump rings through the holes in the charms.
- Photo 2:
Twist the jump rings shut.
- Photo 3:
Attach as many additional jump rings as needed to make your charms face forward when hanging from the aluminum shape.
- Photo 4:
Thread the last jump ring on each charm through the holes in the bottom of the aluminum shape; twist the jump rings shut.
Now we’ll attach the earwires to the holes you punched in the top of each aluminum shape.
For the red earrings, I used my Easy Fancy Earwires Tutorial.
For the green earrings, I used my Long Earwires Tutorial (the medium size, 45mm earwires).
Use your chain nose pliers to twist open your earwire.
Thread the earwire through the hole you punched in the top of your aluminum shape.
Here I’m threading the Easy Fancy Earwire through the hole:
When you get the aluminum shape in place on your earwire, twist the earwire shut:
If you’re using the Long Earwires tutorial, your earring will look like this:
Your finished pair of earrings should look something like this:
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By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.
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