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Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins Tutorial

Four tin can pumpkins on a table.

It’s never my intention to make so many upcycled holiday decorations. Or maybe it is. See, I love making holiday decorations that you can keep forever. But if you make them from upcycled materials, like these Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins, and something happens to them, you won’t worry.

These rustic tin can pumpkins are just like that.

They’re cute and adorable, but not irreplaceable.

Actually, when I was making these, I set them on our screened in porch to dry. And a gust of wind came and knocked one of them onto the concrete floor. Of course, the top edge of the tin can is what hit, and the impact took a little of the paint off.

But, these tin cans were rescued from the garbage. So they’re okay with a few bumps and bruises. Plus, now they’re rustic pumpkins that way.

Speaking of pumpkin crafts, if you like these, be sure to check out our list of Halloween pumpkin crafts for other fun ones to make.

Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins Tutorial

Supplies to make a tin can pumpkin laid out, including a stick, tin cans, spray paint, artificial leaves, glue, and scrap paper.

Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins Supplies:

How To Make Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins:

A can of spray paint spraying a tin can.

Wash the inside of your tin cans. Be really careful because if you used a can opener to open the can originally, the inside of the can is going to be a lot sharper than you expect. (Trust me. I learned that the hard way when I made our Homemade Football Flatware Holder from a tin can).

Pull any labels off your tin cans. Try and remove any adhesive left behind.

If you can’t remove all the adhesion, that’s okay. Just make sure the adhesive faces the wall and no one will know. If you’re determined to, Goo Gone is really good at removing it.

Put the tin cans open side down on a piece of scrap paper and lightly spray a coat of orange spray paint on them.

I stress the word lightly.

You can do many coats of light spray paint to get the desired color and thickness. But if you start with a heavy coat, it will drip and form droplets and paint lines down your tin cans that you can’t remedy. Thin coats don’t drip like this.

Let the thin spray paint layer dry about 15 minutes. Spray a second thin coat and let it dry about 15 minutes.

A can of spray paint spraying a tin can.

Flip the cans over so the open side is up.

Spray a layer of spray paint and let it dry 15 minutes.

Flip the cans back so the open side is down.

Let the cans dry overnight.

Four stick pieces on a table.

Take a stick — just a regular old stick you found in the backyard. Use a miter saw to cut off the edge of the stick so you start with a flat, straight end.

Cut off a two-inch chunk of stick for each of your spray painted tin cans.

Stick with glue on it with a spray painted tin can in the background.

Add a dab of wood glue to one of the ends of the stick chunk and affix it to the middle of the closed side of your pumpkin.

If you don’t have wood glue, E6000 glue will also work.

Let it dry.

Artificial leaf.

Pick two artificial maple leaves per pumpkin. Rub sticky dots to the leaves, then affix the leaves to the pumpkin.

Four tin can pumpkins on a table.

Set them up wherever you need some decorations.

Tin Can Pumpkins: Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use acrylic paint on tin can decorations?

If you don’t have orange spray paint, but you have orange acrylic paint handy, you can use that to paint the pumpkins instead.

Use a foam brush, as opposed to a bristled brush, so you don’t end up with streaks.

You’ll need the paint to dry completely before moving on to the next step, and that might take longer than the 15 minutes required to wait for spray paint. So just keep that in mind.

Do you need to weight down these tin can Halloween decorations?

Luckily, these tin can pumpkins don’t need any weights to stay down. I set them on an outside table as is, and even through hurricane winds (literally, I had them out through a hurricane last year to test my theory), they stayed put on the table.

Tips For Affixing The Leaves To The Tin Can Pumpkins

There was a lot of trial and error to get these leaves onto the tin can pumpkins. So, honestly, the act of sticking the leaves on deserves it own breakout section.

So here we are.

My original plan was to use wood glue to glue the leaves onto the stick. Because the stick is wood. The wood glue worked fine sticking the wooden stick to the top of the can.

It doesn’t work at all when you’re trying to glue fabric leaves onto a stick. I held them together for a long time and still, the leaves fell off almost instantly.

Artificial leaf with glue on it.

So then I went with super glue, which is a misnomer. Because it’s not that super. The leaves still wouldn’t stick.

At this point, I tried a combination of both wood glue and super glue, and that held, but only for a couple hours. Eventually, one of them dried and stopped being sticky.

So I happened to have sticky dots, which are small diecut adhesives. You place the back of the leaf directly into the sticky dots, then rub the plastic backing and the small sticky dots “permanently” affix to the leaf. I put permanently in quotes because, well, the bond wasn’t as permanent as the package has you believe. It is what I used, and the leaves hold together great, but they don’t stick so well to the stick.

But, when I was photographing these, I realize that I didn’t love how the leaves looked on the stick anyway. They look really flat and unless you’re looking at them from the top down, you can’t even tell that the leaves are leaves. And who is going to be looking at these from the top down? No one.

So. I ended up taking the leaves off the stick (which is what the leaves wanted to do anyway) and sticking them onto the side of the tin can, then turning the can on an angle. That was perfect. It looks a little bit better on the larger cans than on the smaller can.

And the sticky dots are able to be removed. So if you’re not 100% committed to where you set the leaves, you’re able to pick the leaves up and move them.

If you really wanted to stick the leaves to the stick, my best suggestion would be to use mini Glue Dots. That’s actually what I was looking for when I found the sticky dots in my craft stash. If you use those, choose the mini dots over the full-size dots. The full-size dots would be too thick and the two leaves would never lay on top of each other in an airy way. They would kind of cover each other. And same with the stick. The leaves would kind of block it and not be able to be wispy, like leaves.

Halloween Bat Candy Tubes.

Want more upcycled Halloween crafts?

We actually have a bunch of upcycled Halloween crafts. Don’t ask me why. It’s my claim to fame, I guess.

Yield: Tin Can Pumpkins

Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins

These DIY Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins are super easy to make. And there's a good chance you have everything to make these rustic pumpkins at home already.

These DIY Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins are super easy to make. And there's a good chance you have everything to make these rustic pumpkins at home already.

Active Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 1 day 40 minutes
Total Time 1 day 1 hour
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • Scrap paper
  • Empty tin cans
  • Orange spray paint
  • A large stick
  • Wood glue
  • Artificial maple leaves
  • Sticky dots

Tools

  • Miter saw

Instructions

    1. These DIY Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins are super easy to make. And there's a good chance you have everything to make these rustic pumpkins at home already.Wash the inside of your tin cans. Pull any labels off your tin cans. Try and remove any adhesive left behind. Put the tin cans open side down on a piece of scrap paper and lightly spray a coat of orange spray paint on them. Let the thin spray paint layer dry about 15 minutes. Spray a second thin coat and let it dry about 15 minutes.
    2. These DIY Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins are super easy to make. And there's a good chance you have everything to make these rustic pumpkins at home already.Flip the cans over so the open side is up. Spray a layer of spray paint and let it dry 15 minutes. Flip the cans back so the open side is down. Let the cans dry overnight.
    3. These DIY Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins are super easy to make. And there's a good chance you have everything to make these rustic pumpkins at home already.Take a stick. Use a miter saw to cut off the edge of the stick so you start with a flat, straight end. Cut off a two-inch chunk of stick for each of your spray painted tin cans.
    4. These DIY Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins are super easy to make. And there's a good chance you have everything to make these rustic pumpkins at home already.Add a dab of wood glue to one of the ends of the stick chunk and affix it to the middle of the closed side of your pumpkin. (If you don’t have wood glue, E6000 glue will also work.) Let it dry.
    5. These DIY Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins are super easy to make. And there's a good chance you have everything to make these rustic pumpkins at home already.Pick two artificial maple leaves per pumpkin. Rub sticky dots to the leaves, then affix the leaves to the pumpkin. Set them up wherever you need some decorations.

Did you use this Easy Upcycled Tin Can Pumpkins Tutorial to upcycle tin cans into Halloween decorations? Let us know in the comments.

sandy Brasington

Friday 30th of October 2020

I can't wait to join

NINA LEWIS

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

What a terrific idea! Thanks so much for sharing this!

kristie

Sunday 18th of October 2020

Your upcycled pumpkins are the cutest ones I've seen this year.

April J Harris

Sunday 18th of October 2020

What a fun, frugal and very pretty decoration! Thank you for sharing.

Linda S

Friday 16th of October 2020

how fun and festive! A great craft idea that will last all the way until December!

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