My husband has never carved a pumpkin. Never, ever. He grew up in Miami, where the warm weather would surely rot a Jack O’Lantern in days, plus they’re just not a Cuban thing. Here in Hawaii, pumpkins would rot even faster so I haven’t tried to introduce the tradition. Hopefully next year on the Mainland we can finally carve a pumpkin together! Until then, we have to content ourselves with faux pumpkins. I’ve played around with several pumpkin ideas this year, but these upcycled can pumpkins are my favorite so far! This project combines several of my favorite things – upcycled cans, found items, and chalk paint – to create budget-friendly, cute, rustic tin can pumpkins. I hope you enjoy the tutorial!
As usual, don’t fret if you don’t have chalk paint – you can use whatever paint you’d like! I love chalk paint for this project because of its somewhat ‘rustic’ appearance and the fact that it tends to be VOC free. I’ve always preferred to find non-toxic alternatives whenever possible, but now with Baby on the way it’s more important to me than ever.
Materials needed for tin can pumpkins
- Clean, empty cans
- Orange paint – as mentioned above, I prefer chalk paint
- A paintbrush
- Sticks or driftwood (for info on cleaning driftwood, please check out this ultimate driftwood crafts roundup)
- Wire to create tendrils – I used this wrapped wire. Green floral wire would work, too!
- Wire cutters and/or pliers with wire cutting jaws
- Scissors with strong jaws or a hobby knife
- High-temp hot glue & glue gun
- Twine, ribbons, rafia, etc. to decorate
If you’re not sure about the differences between low-temp and high-temp hot glue or how to pick the correct glue for the job, please stop by top 10 hot glue gun tips & tricks post!
To make upcycled can pumpkins
Make sure your cans are completely clean and dry, inside and out, and that the labels have been removed then paint away! Especially with chalk paint, multiple light coats are best. If you over-work chalk paint by going back over the same area while it’s still wet the paint tends to come off. Allow the paint to dry fully between coats and keep adding paint until you’re happy with how your cans look. I applied four coats of paint! Bonus tip – wrap your paintbrush in plastic wrap between coats so you don’t have to wash it every time!
Once you cans are painted and dry, cut your sticks or driftwood pieces to length, if necessary, to create the pumpkin stems. I recommend using a hobby knife to make a nice, flat cut on one end so it’s easy to glue in place.
Create vine tendrils by loosely wrapping a piece of wire around one of your stems. If you’re using wrapped wire, it’s usually easiest to use plier jaws to cut the wire and then cut the wrapping with scissors. The exact amount of wire needed depends on how long you’d like your tendril to be and how large you pumpkin/stem are, so you may want to make a few wraps, slide the stick out, and then cut the wire.
Arrange your wire vine however you’d like on a stem. I put one or two wraps around the stem’s base, then bent the wire so a couple more twists could stick out to the side. The piece of driftwood was not cut yet in this photo, but you can see what I mean:
Use your hot glue gun to secure the stem and wire in place on top of a can. If you’re worried about burning your fingers, consider a set of silicon finger protectors. They’re super inexpensive and a great way to protect your fingertips!
Make more tendrils & stems and glue them in place to top each of your cans:
To finish off your pumpkins, decorate the stem bases with twine, ribbon, raffia, etc. It’s cute and helps hide any visible hot glue!
That’s all there is to it! These upcycled can pumpkins are so easy and practically free to make.
While I have to admit to feeling a little silly making fall decorations when it’s hot with a zillion percent humidity, it’s also fun to at least try to celebrate the seasons!
Have you made any fall decorations yet?
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