How to Make Earrings from Recycled Aluminum Soda Can Jewelry Tutorial
By Natasha Hoover
Aluminum Soda Can Crafts
Are you ready to stop pitching cans and start upcycling them into creative, eco-chic jewelry? There are many different aluminum can crafts, but earrings are one of the easiest things to make and the perfect beginner project. Working with aluminum cans can be tricky, and even a little dangerous, so it's a good idea to start out with a relatively simple, easy project and 'work your way up.'
A single aluminum can makes several pairs of similar, but not typically identical, earrings. The earrings are fun, fresh, and very lightweight, which makes them perfect for people like me who cannot wear heavy earrings. Upcycled can earrings are a great beginner project because they do not require many specialized tools - chances are good you already have most, or all, of the needed supplies at home. If you don't, the additional items will only cost you a couple of dollars.
Supplies for Making Can Earrings
All you need for this project is:
- An empty, clean can
- Scissors or aviation snips (metal cutters)
- A paper hole punch
- A thumbtack/pushpin
- Jump rings or fine chain
- Needle nose pliers. A pair of tweezers will also do, in a pinch
- Earring backs
Please note: this project may damage your scissors and/or hole punch. I have broken inexpensive hole punches by using them to cut aluminum cans. I was able to make several pairs of cute earrings before breaking the punch, but it did stop working. On the other hand, my higher-quality hole punches are still going strong after dozens of uses. Scissors may become dull after cutting metal, but shouldn't actually break.
If you do not want to buy an entire package of earring backs or jump rings for one simple project, consider dismantling another pair of earrings for parts. If you have a pair you never wear, why not recycle them, too? Holding on to earrings after a mate has been broken or lost is another great way to accumulate free jewelry supplies.
If you are allergic to inexpensive metals with a high nickle content, consider purchasing sterling silver, niobium, or surgical steel earring wires. You don't want to break out in a rash from wearing your new earrings!
How to Make Soda Can Earrings
- Cut the aluminum can to turn it into a sheet of metal. I usually find it's easiest to jab the scissor tip into the can to start a hole, cut around the top of the can, cut a slit down the side, and then cut the bottom off the can (as shown to the right).
- Use your hole punch to cut shapes from the can. It can take a lot of pressure to cut through a can - make sure you cut against a table or other hard surface instead of just using your hands.
- Be careful - cut aluminum edges may be sharp. Usually, the punch dulls the edges. If you find the edges are sharp, use fine grit sandpaper, or even an emery board, to sand down the edges.
- Play around with your cut pieces to decide how you want them to hang. Do you want a single, large piece? Do you want to hang several pieces to create a dangle earring? The pink and yellow earrings shown higher on the page have three small butterflies, each, but the earrings in the tutorial have one large butterfly. The choice is yours!
- After deciding how you want your pieces to hang, use the pushpin to make a small hole where you need a jump ring to attach to the piece.
- Use your needle nose pliers or tweezers to bend a jump ring (or end of a small length of chain, as shown) open just wide enough to slip into the thumbtack hole.
- Close the ring to keep the metal shape from slipping back out.
- Open the loop on the end of your earring back.
- Slip the open loop through the jump ring or at the other end of your length of chain.
- Close the earring's loop.
That's all there is to it! Aluminum can earrings are amazingly easy to create.
Tips for Making Jewelry
- Separating rings can be difficult with only one pair of pliers. Grabbing opposite sides of the ring with two different pairs, or a pair of pliers and a narrow pair of tweezers, can make both opening and closing rings easier.
- Round nose pliers are less likely to damage metal rings and leave unsightly marks. While it is more difficult to grip items with round pliers than flat, needle nose pliers, I prefer them because they do not damage the jewelry as often.
- Make sure to close all rings and tightly as possible. Aluminum can punch-outs are very thin and can easily slip out of partially-open rings.
- Stalking the Wild Snark on Etsy
Find my upcycled aluminum jewelry and more on Etsy
Do you make your own jewelry?
Enjoy Making your own Recycled Jewelry
Making upcycled aluminum can earrings is very easy and the possibilities are almost endless - just think about all the brightly-colored cans and cool designs you see at the grocery store. The wide variety of available hole punches means you can create earrings in just about any shape or size. Handmade earrings are fantastic gifts, too, and you can usually buy earring gift boxes at jewelry or craft stores for less than a dollar each, so dressing up a pair of earrings to make it look like a 'real' gift it easy.
I have to admit - I've gone a little overboard with my empty can collection and it is unlikely I'll even turn all of them into earrings. Hubber Jamie Brock has a fantastic round-up of aluminum can craft ideas that I've linked to the right. Some of them, like the aluminum can purse, are a little too intense for me, but I've been thinking about making the lanterns because they look so darn cute! Do you have any other suggestions for aluminum can crafts? I'd love to hear them!