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Upcycled Can Pumpkins – Recycled Tin Can Pumpkin Tutorial

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!

Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins 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!

rustic tin can pumpkins

That’s all there is to it! These upcycled can pumpkins are so easy and practically free to make.

recycled tin can pumpkins

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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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • BeadedTail September 12, 2017, 15:22

    Very cute! That’s a sweet idea for fall displays! We haven’t carved a pumpkin in years but we do get a pumpkin to sit on the front deck during the holidays. I just draw a face on with a Sharpie. That’s the only decoration I’ve done for fall although I’m attempting a new crafty project next week so we’ll see if I have a scarecrow to add to my fall display!

    • Natashalh September 12, 2017, 16:18

      A scarecrow sounds fun! Honestly, it’s probably safer for me not to carve pumpkins, but I don’t usually do too much damage to myself with those tiny serrated ‘knives’ you get in carving kits. Around here even setting one out with a drawn on face probably wouldn’t work too well – it’s just to sticky and hot this time of year!

  • marieken September 13, 2017, 21:22

    Those are really cute, I haven’t done any fall decorating, I am still holding on to the last bits of summer!

    • Natashalh September 17, 2017, 11:23

      If I lived somewhere that actually got cold I’d feel the same way!

  • Pamela Baker September 14, 2017, 05:18

    Great decorations for the Fall Season. I think I am going to have to teach your husband how to carve then clean out the inside of the pumpkin. After carving out the face – then placing a candle inside! Suggestion – don’t put the top on while candle is lit!!!

    • Natashalh September 17, 2017, 08:50

      Cleaning out the pumpkin is my strong point. I’m not very good at faces, but I will put a lot of work into getting it as clean as possible!

  • Sarah September 15, 2017, 08:38

    These are super cute and so easy to do. I love your photos too.

    • Natashalh September 17, 2017, 08:30

      Thank you! I actually had a lot of trouble photographing this project because the orange color kept messing with my camera.

  • Julie September 19, 2017, 17:16

    That’s such a good idea!! As without a doubt, pumpkins will rot super fast here. Though I don’t think my neighbors would understand the meaning of it!!

    • Natashalh September 19, 2017, 19:51

      Probably not! Even in places that celebrate Halloween, different countries seem to have very different ways of doing things. When I was a kid in Great Britain, people would give out things like pennies, apples, and pencils that you don’t see for Halloween in the US!

  • Erlene September 27, 2017, 20:28

    I saw someone do a Frankenstein head with tin cans too. I’m going to have to save some cans to make a few of these pumpkins for fall.

    • Natashalh September 28, 2017, 08:46

      Oh, cute! I haven’t seen that. I bet my husband would have fun helping with Frankenstein cans.

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