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Book Review - Colorful Aluminum Jewelry

Sure we can make jewelry from aluminum cans. But if you were thinking that such jewelry will not be the kind of bling you like, think again. Kalmbach Publishing just sent me one of their latest releases,  Create Colorful Aluminum Jewelry by Helen Harle. The designs Helen came up with are truly delightful and inspirational!

The book features 21 project designs ranging from simpler projects to statement pieces like my favorite, the wisteria necklace. I marvel at the author's creativity as she uses simple paper punches to cut out the metal shapes. An aluminum can, once cut open, is quite a large piece of sheet metal and thus will yield many pieces.

Helen, who is a life long crafter from Devon, England,  must also be a splendid gardener because many of the projects are floral inspired - rose, fuchsias, daisies, snowdrops and wisteria. For the simpler projects, the cut out pieces are transformed into charms, links and small earring findings.

Where her designs really shine are the layered creations. The pieces are not soldered or fused but riveted together using simple eyelets. For one project, she also sewed together some pieces with beading thread and needle!

There were a few issues the author could have mentioned but did not. Firstly, if you are going to cut up cans, I would highly recommend you wear protective gloves.  Fortunately, these work gloves now come in women's sizes! She uses a short blade knife to hack into the can. Other metal workers I know use tin shears which you can get from the hardware store. The author uses a needle punch to make holes in the cut out shapes which necessitates cleaning out the scrap bits from the hole.  If you have a metal hole punching pliers or tool, they will be easier to use.

This book is so inspirational, I have been rooting in my recycling bag for cans. I also checked out the soft drink section of the local supermarket! Definitely a must for eco jewelry and crafting enthusiasts!


More aluminum jewelry posts:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 


  1. What a fabulous book. Please share any designs you try. If you find some colorful cans, please let us know the brand.

    I have a question - if you use scrapbooking punches will the edges be sharp?

  2. According to the author, yes. Aluminum cans are quite thin. She also said that her punches don't seem to dull either after 2 years.

    Just check your grocery aisle. There are different kinds. I dare say, people in different locations will have different types.

    The no name brands seem to have less writing if you prefer solid colors. But creative punching of even the patterned or boldly lettered parts will work.


  3. How do you dull the edges of the aluminum?

  4. Hi Wirewrapper - I find that a simple nail file is perfect for dulling sharp metal edges. You can get tiny ones for getting into small spaces (like wrapped loops) and larger ones for larger bits of metal. I like the disposable kind, as it means I don't have to worry about breaking the good crystal file I use on my nails (!), but for really tough or thick metal the diamond dust files are brilliant, and they last forever.

  5. Very interesting to read this review. I just spotted this book yesterday and thought it looked fab. I love flowers of all sorts, especially when they are more realistic like these. The book's on my beady wishlist now.

    I've cut myself on thin sheet metal several times so I do hope anyone using this book is being careful. It happens so easy, with cut edges being much sharper than they look. Ouch!

    The only downside to the idea of "recycling" cans is that I'm a bit uncertain about using aluminum, I'd rather see it kept in the the recycling cycle, seeing how much energy it takes to produce new aluminum compared to recycling existing refined metal. As the demand is unlikely to diminish, new aluminum needs to be produced -- something that not only consumes energy, but can lead to accidents like the horrible one in Hungary. That said I do like aluminum a lot. Love my anodized aluminum scales for example. And I haven't any LCA reports that say aluminum would be "worse" than other metals.

    PS! I know it's possible to buy anodized sheet aluminum, but don't know if it's sold in the same thickness as the sheets used in cans. If it is, that could be an option to trying and find nice cans with the right colours. Or one could just buy "plain" sheet and then paint the metal. I'm thinking about getting copper sheet to make flowers from. Perhaps too thin to enamel, but it'd be fun if it was possible.

    (Sorry for the long, rambling comment... I'm too fond of writing, I fear. :p )

  6. Wire wrapper, I use needle files which you can get from the hardware store.

    Maneki, we recycle aluminum here quite well. It was unfortunate that the Hungarian mine did not have a secondary containment wall which is required by many countries.

    I have bought plain aluminum sheets - they come in different gauges. I am sure there must be a source of anodized aluminum sheets but surely pop cans are much more convenient and "free"!

  7. Great tip about the diamond dust files, T=MC2!


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