Tin Punched Votive Candles

Tin-punched candle holders— they're practically free to make!I have absurdly fond memories of childhood crafts. Paper bag puppets, woven baskets, pop-up cards, and yes, even colorful beans glued to a paint-stirrer in the name of a Mother's Day gift for my poor mom. My heart raced with each craft I made. But perhaps my favorite craft was taught to me by my third grade teacher, Mrs. Kendall. She brought in canning jar lids and templates and allowed us to tin-punch ornaments as Christmas gifts for our parents. I loved it!

Recently I saw these charming tin-punched candle holders at Crate and Barrel and immediately drifted off to that exhilarating third grade craft day. I thought making my own version of these candle holders would be terrifically nostalgic, not to mention a great almost-free way to decorate our holiday table.

Make these charming candle holders— they're practically free!Supplies:
-tin can (opened and emptied)
-primer
-gold and white spray paint (or multi-surface acrylic paint)
-rice
-water
-tape (preferably duct tape)
-printed template (I simply printed out large letters to spell a word, though you can find lots of tin-punch patterns with a quick Internet search.)

Tools:
-mallet or hammer
-punch or nail
-brush (if not using spray paint)

Make these charming candle holders— they're practically free!Step One: Remove the labels and adhesive from the cans, thoroughly clean each can, then dry completely. I removed the label adhesive with a mixture of olive oil and baking soda.

Step Two: Fill each can with rice and water to the top. Freeze completely. This will provide a stable can for punching, preventing the can from denting or collapsing.

Make these charming candle holders— they're practically free!Step Three: Tape a printed template onto the can by wrapping the can with duct tape. The tape will not stick to a frozen can, but the tape will stick to the paper—hence the wrapping of the can. Use a punch tool or nail to hammer nail-sized holes along the border of the template. Make sure the holes are at least the diameter of a standard nail, or the light will not properly show through the finished candle holders.

After punching the rice and ice filled cans, defrost them in a container of warm water before proceeding to the next step. You don't have to completely defrost— just a few minutes in the warm water will allow you to dump out the rice ice cubes.

Tip: Punch both sides of the can if you plan to place the candle holders down the center of a table— but if you do, plan for the letters being in a different order!

Step Four: Prime the cans. Then paint the inside with gold paint and the outside with white (or the color of your choice). It's important to prime the cans to ensure the adhesion of the paint. While the image above shows brush painting, I found through trial and error that spray paint worked best. I sprayed the insides of the cans with gold spray paint, then after that dried, turned the cans upside-down and sprayed with light coats of white paint.

Tin-punched candle holders— they're practically free to make!Safety Tip: It's safe to burn real candles inside of the finished candle holders, though you should make sure the spray paint has cured for 24 hours. If you are planning on using these before that time, I recommend using LED votives or tea lights.

Tin-punched candle holders— they're practically free to make!This is a great craft to do with children age 9+. You can spell out any word that holds special meaning for your family, or maybe print out some decorative tin-punch templates you find online. Stars or snowflakes would be so charming! –Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.

  • I’ve never made these before but they look so darn cool and relatively easy to make. I love that you can personalize them and that something as simple as a tin can, can potentially make life long memories.

    Thanks for sharing ladies and take care.

    Lyle

  • These look gorgeous! I’ll definitely have to try it out – even though I totally lack the artistic qualities you so clearly possess 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    thebalancedtraveler.com

  • I assume the rice is going to be useless after this, is it worth it? thow away food in order to recycle a can? Sorry but i’m not up for it.

  • These are super cute!
    I’m definitely going to give these a go with my boyfriend and my initials to decorate our fireplace! x

  • I love the soft golden glow from inside of the cans. It’s great rediscovering crafts you did when you were younger isn’t it? These are really up to date after being painted white and would look great on any table.

  • Hi! I tried making these over the summer for our back porch, but when I filled the cans with water and froze them, the water expanded and THAT ruined the shape of the can. How can I prevent that from happening?

    Thanks!

  • I’ve always found tin can candles so endearing, but have never made them. I don’t really have time to make these before Thanksgiving (unless I get a snow day…fingers crossed!), but I may try to translate these over to Christmas or Valentines day.
    -E

    http://amie-eo.blogspot.com

  • This is so charming and adorable!! I can see these in a rustic style wedding as well. I wish I did pretty projects like these in elementary school. I was over the macaroni art by age 7!
    Thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to try my own.

  • very cute! question though. Is it really necessary to fill the cans with water and freeze? Will it not work if you just fill it with rice and seal it with tape at the top? Maybe even small pebbles if you don’t want to waste rice?

  • Why the rice? Does it keep the water from expanding too much and distorting the shape of the cans as Lisa said above? I use Nellie’s Laundry Soap and it comes in great tins. I had planned on using those for Holiday votives but am curious about the rice…Thanks!

  • i LOVE this idea!
    but its weird that i was instantly sad about all the wasted rice! lol.
    can wait to try this!!!!

    i think this is great for xmas!

  • Beautiful! I wish this was posted earlier – probably won’t have time to make these for our table this year. Oh well – pinned for next year :).
    One thing to note, and I can totally see myself doing this and then being so annoyed :)…
    If you are going to run them down the center of the table make sure the other side isn’t backwards, “SKNAHT”. Because thats what will happen if you put the same letter on both sides of each can. Whoops!

  • My tins didn’t get hot, though when I moved my hand close to the top of them, it was fiercely hot! Any votive holder will get warm, though, so if you’re worried about it with people passing food, etc, then I would use battery powered LED tea lights. They usually even flicker! -Mandi

  • You could certainly try! The rice+ice method worked wonderfully for me. I did some punching without the ice (but no rice), and the can collapsed. If you don’t want to waste rice, you could fill it with sand and water, probably. -Mandi

  • If you just filled them with water, they would be too hard to pierce. But the rice allows it to give a little when you punch the tin. You could use sand or other porous materials too! -Mandi

  • Did you add anything to the water, or did you just use plain water? The use of rice will help this. My water/rice expanded still, but upwards, not outward. Although, even if you didn’t add anything to the water, it’s odd that it would destroy the can. Usually water looks for the path of least resistance when expanding, so I would have thought it would expand upwards. -Mandi

  • No, my rice barely absorbed any water, and it can still be cooked (even in the same water) when you take it from the can. It will be a lot of rice, though, so you’ll want to freeze the excess or else have a big family dinner. 🙂 If you don’t want lots of rice on your hands, you can use sand or another porous material. -Mandi

  • i saw a previous comment so i see what you mean! (:
    i love this idea but while we do eat a lot of rice i dont think we eat that much so i can settle for making a can a week! that’ll also give me time to collect cans!

    thanks for the idea! <3

  • Ha! Good point! You’d need to do some extra planning and use a different letter on the back. I didn’t do the back of mine, but would’ve been bummed if I had probably! -Mandi

  • Great idea for pressies! A few months of saving cans would’ve been handy. I now have to work in many canned items into my family’s meals over the next few weeks……”Not baked beans again, mum!”

  • I used tomato sauce so I could just dump the sauce into a container and pop it into the freezer. I did two containers, which worked out to be enough for two pasta dishes for the next couple of weeks. -Mandi

  • I’m in the market for diy Christmas gifts this year and this definitely fits the bill! I’m excited to make these! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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