Punched tin has long been used for lanterns to light the way on dark nights. In fact, it is rumored that a local farmer made Paul Revere’s lantern from punched tin. Although using a recycled tin can probably will not match the intricate beauty of real punched tin, it does make an attractive luminary to brighten your Christmas windows.
Prepare the Tin Can
Remove the labels from empty vegetable or food cans and wash in hot soapy water to remove any traces of food. To remove traces of glue left behind from the label, soak the tin can for 10 to 15 minutes and scrap with a plastic spatula to remove. Thoroughly dry the can.
Fill the tin can with water, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Place the can in the freezer and freeze until the water is solid.
Choosing a Design
While your water freezes, decide on a design for the tin can luminary. For Christmas, snowflakes, trees, bows, stars and bells make cute designs-but simple scrolls are attractive as well. Look through children’s coloring books for a simply design for your tin can luminary. Simple outlines of PEACE, JOY and LOVE make a simple, but tasteful statement.
Marking the Punch Holes
Use a permanent marker to create dots for the punch holes following the outline of the pattern. Space dots evenly, typically ¼ to ½ inch part depending on the size of the hole you intend to punch.
Gather a hammer and nails. Keep in mind that small nails make tiny holes and are ideal for intricate patterns, whereas large nails make bigger holes suitable for bold shapes and patterns. As an alternative, you may wish to use an awl for punching holes.
Positioning the Pattern
Tape the pattern around the tin can with masking tape or duct tape to hold the pattern in place and prevent slipping. Your marked dots should be facing outward as you will use them to guide your work.
Punching the Luminary Pattern
Lay the can down on a soft cloth and begin punching holes following your marked pattern. When all holes have been completed, remove the paper and allow the ice to thaw. Empty the can and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Place a candle inside the tin can luminary.
Display Your Tin Can Luminaries
Consider lining your front steps or the porch railing with tin can luminaries to welcome your guests and create Christmas cheer. The delightful little luminaries make a wonderful gift for friends and loved ones and provide them with hours of enjoyment on cold winter nights.