Tin Can Luminarias

Brighten your deck or patio with these inexpensive punched-tin lights.
Tin can luminaries: close-up of luminarias
Enlarge Image
These simple luminarias are an
inexpensive decorative accent
for garden entertaining.

Even on a breezy summer evening, these inexpensive luminarias will set a festive mood on your deck or patio. Constructed from discarded cans, they can be any size that works for a votive candle. Although they may seem rustic to our modern eyes, punched tin lanterns have a long and distinguished history.

See below for instructions for creating these lovely night lights.

Tin can luminaries: luminarias on a porch
Enlarge Image
Use luminarias wherever light
is appreciated, such as on a
buffet table.

Remove the labels, tops, and bottoms of the cans. (For our project, we used 26-ounce cans.) Wash thoroughly. Use an old-fashioned beer can opener to make triangular holes around the perimeter of the top and bottom of each can. Wear work gloves, and beware of sharp edges. Curl the flaps of metal loosely around the rims of the can.

With a hammer and a sharp nail or awl, carefully punch additional holes in a pattern on the surface of each can. Aim for simple, stylized patterns. Work with a spare can or two for practice. If the can creases, insert a block of wood into the can to provide support while making the punch holes.

Place each can in a terra-cotta saucer with a votive candle inside. For taller bases, glue a pair of saucers bottom to bottom. Vary the tall and short bases on your deck, patio, and tabletop for lively decorative interest.


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