Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

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:

Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Then we can make chandelier earrings with dangles:

Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . or simple earrings with long graceful earwires:

Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Supplies:

  • 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

IMPORTANT:

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:

Stainless steel fillet glove for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Soda can for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Put on your safety goggles and glove, and get ready to cut up your can:

Soda can for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Puncturing the aluminum can for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Cutting the soda can for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Your can should look like this:

Cutting down the side of the soda can for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Cut off the top and bottom of the can - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Your aluminum can probably has rough, splintery edges from the cutting:

Rough edges on the cut up soda can - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your scissors to trim off all roughness so the metal edges are straight and unblemished.

Now your can should look like this:

Cut up soda can with smoothed edges - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Flattened aluminum sheet from soda can for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Flower shaped paper punch for Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Turn the paper punch upside down, so that its punching end is pointing up:

Turn the paper punch upside down - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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 your desired part of the can - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Punch out two pieces from your aluminum can:

Punch out two pieces from the soda can - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Mark where you want the holes to go - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

1/6" paper punch for holes in Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Go ahead and punch the holes where you marked them on your aluminum shapes:

Holes punched in aluminum shape - Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

I used three small brass charms to dangle from the bottom of each earring:
Charms to dangle from Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Here’s how to attach dangles to your aluminum shapes.

The instructions for each step are below this photo:

Attaching the charm dangles to Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

  • 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:

Attaching earwires to Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

When you get the aluminum shape in place on your earwire, twist the earwire shut:

Attaching earwires to Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

If you’re using the Long Earwires tutorial, your earring will look like this:

Attaching earwires to Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Your finished pair of earrings should look something like this:

Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Repurposed Aluminum Can Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Want to Learn the Basics of
Designing Your Own Wire Jewelry?

Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components Class In my Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components video class, you’ll learn how to get great ideas for wire jewelry designs – and then follow my easy system for turning those ideas into successful pieces of jewelry.

By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.

You’ll also learn my tips for making wire jewelry more easily, with more professional looking results.

 

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  • Joybelle says:

    What a novel idea. Aren’t the edges sharp? Maybe I overlooked the smoothing process, did I?

  • Hi Joybelle, I used gloves to protect my fingers before punching the shapes – and the punching process blunts the edges of the punched shapes so they’re not sharp at all. Thanks for asking! 🙂

  • Judith says:

    I like this idea. The same question came to my mind when I read through the tutorial–the sharpness of the edges. I will try this. Thanks for the idea, Rena.

  • Kathy says:

    I am saving this. I just need to find my punch! (It’s still packed from a recent-ish move! (We are fixing up the house and then we’ll start on the back garage–where my workshop will be.)

  • While reading through, I was inspired to try with beer cans for more brown and golden hues and also to randomly bend the shape to create dimension in the focal section. I’m not sure that beer can earrings compliment my style aesthetic, but I bet one could sell them all day long at craft fairs! hahah

  • Sue Shade says:

    Rena, what an easy idea! I purchased a machine to cut out shapes from a can. All along I could have just used my punches. Thanks for the tip.

  • Dana C Smith says:

    And beer is food, Terrie! So much better for you than soda-as has been reported- at least that’s what I’m going with! I like your thought about the craft fair cachet too! Gonna try it! Like these “Bud-s” are for you! heheheh…

  • Pauline says:

    I made earrings and necklaces just last week featuring aluminium cans. I only had two different sized circle punches. I did do a a bit smoothing of the edges with sandpaper though. For the holes to put jump rings I used some very sad hole punching techniques, and finished those holes with rivets. I also sand papered and embossed some of the outside metal. I rubbed some shoe nugget to give a slight vintage look, then finished with several coats of modpodge and spray of a gloss laquer.
    My efforts are going in a small art exhibition – tomorrow is set up day!

  • Trish says:

    These are so cute. Love them.

  • Laurie says:

    Rena – these are so fun! Thank you so much for sharing with us at Brag About It!
    ~Laurie

  • Crystal says:

    I’ve made lots of things with recycled soda cans and most people don’t realize how easy they are to cut. Thanks for sharing. These are just adorable

  • Wow! The paper punch really punches through?? So cool! I can’t wait to try.

  • Jann Olson says:

    What a super cute idea! I love them! Thanks for sharing.
    hugs,
    Jann

  • Veronica says:

    What a cool idea. And a great way to re-purpose.

  • Rose says:

    Yes, it is fun to try!

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