Easter Cross Made From Recycled Soda Cans


Michele Made Me ... do it!

To be honest, I had pretty much given up on the idea of doing any more "recycled/reuse" crafting. And then I began following Michele, the brilliant mind behind the Michele Made Me Blog and the Tute 'n Pattern Shop. (I share more of her story here.)

As you can see above - she has become my "recycle/reuse" muse renewing my interest in using materials destined for the recycle bin or the dump to create new art of lasting value!

So before going any further - THANK YOU MICHELE!

So! What do you think of my Easter Cross made from the bottoms of soda pop cans?


The shape of the can bottoms reminds me of something that, growing up in Santa Fe, I frequently saw encircling the waists of men and women or carefully displayed on beautifully woven blankets spread out under the portal of the Governors Palace on the plaza at the center of town - Concho Belts.

Concho belts are made by American Indian Silversmiths - Navajo, Zuni, Hopi - living in the Southwest USA . Even as a small child, I was amazed at the skill and craftsmanship required to create the perfect symmetry in the designs.

So with all these converging influences - Michele, love of punched metal art, conchos, recycling, Easter coming - I decided to try my hand at making simplified, "punched tin" conchos out of aluminum soda pop cans to create an Easter cross.

If you are not into cross shapes, you might prefer to fashion your soda can bottoms into what I am sure would be a gorgeous wreath or even a mobile like I did here.

The instructions below will work for many decorative applications. Just don't try to fashion these into a belt or some other form of wearable art. The edges could cause a cut finger if not handled with some degree of care.


1. So - to get to here...


you start with a can bottom that has been cut away from a soda can. Remember! Wear gloves for this step.

2. Once you have decided on a design to be punched into the aluminum, use a Sharpie to draw it freehand onto the surface. (I have placed the full set of steps for drawing this design in my flickr photostream for those of you who want to use this design.)


3. To punch the design into the aluminum, nothing more complicated than a nail and a hammer are needed. (Note: Use the smallest hammer you have available because a heavy hammer will wear out your arm after punching 6 disks!)

I admit, it is a bit tricky punching a little hole into a sloping surface - but with a little practice, you will get the feel of it. The best tip I can give you is to "set" the point of the nail into the surface where you want to make a dent by applying pressure as you hold the nail point against the aluminum. Then tap it lightly - just enough to create a slight indentation. Then go ahead and tap lightly two or three times more. It seemed to help me to rest my little finger on the raised rim for support while holding the nail.

4. Although there is no reason you can't punch all the way through the metal, I prefer to simply make deep indentations. But I ALWAYS end up with a few holes!


5. Now get out those plastic goggles to protect your eyes. VERY IMPORTANT!

And select a pair of small sturdy scissors. I use heavy duty toe nail scissors as I find the curved shape useful for rounded edges.


Hint: I have begun using this little safety "tool" to prevent pieces of very sharp metal from flying off into parts of the room where they will be found by unsuspecting bare feet!


6. Holding the disk with the design side facing you, make a series of small cuts all around the outside edge as shown. Start just to the left of the line and cut in a curve to the small dot.

Continue all the way around the disk.


7. Now, turn the disk over so that the design side is turned away from you. Cut the other side of the curve as shown to complete the little "petals".

Note: I am so accustomed to working with aluminum that I do not wear gloves for this step. However, those little triangles you are cutting away are very, very sharp so you may wish to wear gloves to prevent cutting your fingers - at least until you are used to working with the material.


All six disks punched and cut!


8. Your disks must be attached to some kind of frame - I had a few scraps of 1" pine molding which I cut to size. The long center piece is 9" and the shorter side pieces are 2 3/4" long. The brace (on the left) is about 5".


9. Play with positioning the conchos onto the wood cross form to determine the location for the two cross pieces. (They must lay directly underneath the cross wise conchos.) Carefully lift the conchos and mark the placement of the cross pieces on the long center piece.

10. Glue the cross pieces to the long center wood form. I used hot glue - you may prefer another glue.


11. Place the brace as shown and glue.


12. Depending on how you want your cross to hang, you can leave it as is with just the one brace or you can glue braces at the top and bottom of the long center piece as shown so that it will sit flush against the wall.

Note: It would look nicer if the braces were the exact same length as the frame sections, but keep in mind - I used SCRAPS I had left from another project. Once the cross is assembled and hung - honestly it makes no difference.


13. Spray paint the wood silver - or not - your choice!

14. Glue the conchos in place. Again, I used hot glue. It gave me just enough time to tweak the disks into place and then dried to a firm hold.

15. I happen to have some turquoise chips we found at a garage sale years ago so I picked through and found 6 that were about the right size and shape. I used hot glue to mount them in the centers of the conchos.

But you might prefer to make tiny flowers out of the soda can sides. Or perhaps glue particularly interesting beads in the centers - Erin has some here!

Millefleur designs in Fimo or Sculpey would be pretty. Or perhaps you are a paper artist - tiny paper flowers would be very pretty nestled in the center of each concho - or perhaps only the concho at the center of the cross

One thing I discovered while positioning the conchos on the cross I want to pass on for your consideration. Just one single concho in the center of the wood cross was absolutely beautiful and so simple.

So I am thinking a cross made of some kind of exotic wood, or a pine wood cross painted in turquoise or any other color, or a woven cross of some kind - any of these would be beautiful with just one concho sitting right in the center.

As always, if you have any questions, I will be most happy to try to answer them by e-mail.

And if like me you happen to love playing with metal and "punched tin" you might like to check out any of the tutorials listed in the "metal" catagory under "How-to" - found in the menu bar near the top of the page!

My personal favorites (besides this cross) are a 1850 wall sconce made entirely out of tin and aluminum cans, butterflies and dragonflies!

That is GORGEOUS!!! Of

That is GORGEOUS!!! Of course, I am not surprised Michele is behind it- that woman is a crafty recycling genius! Thanks for sharing this! My boys would love to do something like this over Spring Break. I will have to visit Michele's tute shope because I have my eye on those denim bowls she made!

Pam - you are just amazing.

Pam - you are just amazing. The cross is beautiful and I'm so impressed by your process.

I thought of you this weekend - I was out and about with my mum and we saw these beautiful handmade punch tin sacred heart mirrors. SO pretty. Wish you and Diane were there!

Love the idea, but I will use

Love the idea, but I will use my can bottoms for Christmas tree trims ... a heap of these on a tree would look great, and can be used on outdoor trees!

Judy B

Dear Pam It is wonderfull,

Dear Pam
It is wonderfull, love it, love it, love it.
I have been very busy last days and next weeks but if I have the time I will, surely, make on to celebrate Easter and will then send you photos.
all the best

Pam, you really are amazing.

Pam, you really are amazing. This is so cool. You could easily do a punched tin book. ;) I love this and think it's awesome that they were soda cans. The wreath would be stellar, too. Reminds me of a metalwork cross from Haiti my mom brought back to me where they do a lot with the old shipping drums. I'll try to remember to take a photo and show you sometime!

So beautiful Pam. I think

So beautiful Pam. I think your soda can cross is amazing. You know what I also love? I love reading about your adventure making it. As usual I learned something brand new: conchos. So COOL! The "shield" your fashioned is such a great idea, as I would for sure get one of those shards in the foot with my luck. Goggles definitely a must too. i was wondering what the pretty blue-green bits were in the center of the flowers... Thanks for clarifying. They work so well.

Thanks so much for the link and for crediting me as one of your muses. I'm so honoured... I'm seriously blushing over here!

Pam! Happy Solstice. I have


Happy Solstice.

I have your punched-tin butterfly proudly displayed in my living room every single minute! Sometimes, every second!

It's beautiful.