DIY Tin Lantern Pinterest Fail

Thanks to Etsy and Pinterest, I’m starting to worry about hoarding items previously dubbed ‘trash.’ I hear a little voice in my head cry out, “No! Don’t toss the empty coffee tin or mason jar; you could craft that into something marvelous!”  This weekend, bored by volleyball, I decided to make a gift for a friend.

Here are the inspirational photos and instructions. All it takes is hammering holes into a piece of thin metal. How hard could it be? This lovely photo is the goal for my finished product:

The site called for a thick nail or two (which I didn’t have), clamps (which I also didn’t have), a tin coffee can and hammer, plus some other stuff I dubbed extraneous.

I drew my design on paper and taped it to the can, thinking that an intricate pattern of waves and stars and vines, plus my friend’s name would be perfect. I used a screw instead of a nail, which ended up cutting my thumb and forefinger, but what’s a homemade gift without a little sweat right?

Turns out, they really do mean that clamps would be useful – you might even say clamps on a sturdy table are an imperative for this project. But who has an extra shed and workbench in these times? Not to be deterred, I improvised – using my feet as vice-like clamps while sitting on the floor:

The process of hold screw-hammer it-hit finger- suck finger-readjust feet-crack neck-decide I don’t need THAT many holes-look for a better screw-try a tiny nail-return to screw-repeat – continued for oh, two hours. I was also sipping whiskey which may have contributed to the length of effort, but mostly I think it helped numb the finger pain and body cricks.

I pulled off the paper for a peek and realized: 1) not all the holes went through; 2) I needed more holes; 3) I should have painted the can before I started punching holes; and 4) damn, I wish I’d just bought a gift card instead. By this point I’d cut my forefinger on the screw threads and depressed myself by dropping in a candle and only seeing measly dots of light. I decided to keep going. I nabbed a bottle of black acrylic paint and dabbed it on the tin to hide the über shininess.

I re-wrapped and taped the paper around the dry tin, aligning it JUST SO. I punched old holes, added a few new ones, and realized that spelling out her name was pointless as it was illegible. About this time I realized that the can was getting bent out of shape so I tried to bang out some bumps from the inside of the can. Highly ineffectual. Whatever. I popped a candle inside to see the beauty revealed. I proudly present my coffee can lantern:

To the untrained eye, this appears to be a beat up, slightly rusted tin can pulled from a dumpster. Not so! It’s a labor of love! A gift from the heart! An upcycled, Eco-friendly home decoration!

Riiiight. Pinterest fail. Apparently those who have gone before recommend using a power drill, and/or freezing water in the cans so they don’t bend when hammered. Ah.

I’ve decided to give my friend the lantern…but I’ll also toss in a gift card and a bottle of wine. Sorry, Kelly! It’s the thought that counts sometimes.

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