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Easy Recycled Aluminum Can Earrings Tutorial

There are pros and cons with using recycled aluminum cans for making jewelry.  The pros include reducing wastage by reusing what is only a single use item as well as being inexpensive.  But the metal is thin, warps easily and the colored coating is easily scratched.   So how can you overcome the negatives and take advantage of the positives?  Beth over on The Mermaid's Den has a couple of tutorials on how she make earrings.

Her instructions are in two parts. The first tutorial shows how she used metal shears to prepare small metal sheets.  An extra tip - I wear women sized work gloves to handle very sharp metal edges when I cut up cans.

The second tutorial shows how she cuts up round shapes, embosses, domes and colors the discs with alcohol inks.

As you can see from her experience, she did not always have clean edges when she used a disc cutter.  I have found using paper punches works well.  Discs cut with punches have dulled edges and can be handled safely.  You can always sand the edges some more if you wish.

The embossing part not only gives a fun texture to the discs but also serves to work harden the metal (as does the doming step). Backing the discs with other metal discs or perhaps polymer clay discs will further protect the discs as well as add another design element.

Protecting the final colored pieces will mean the colors will stay!

Before You Go:

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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  1. What gauges of metal would you be comfortable cutting with a paper punch? I saw your suggestion to use the paper punch and started getting ideas. Also paper punches are way cheaper than disc cutters, especially for non-circular shapes, and much easier than using a jeweler's saw!

    Lillypilly has some cool anodized aluminum sheets but they seem like they might be too thick for paper punches (thinnest gauge I see for aluminum is 24).

    1. Paper punches work well for the aluminum used in soda cans - which is about 36 G. I think 24 G is too much for such punches.

    2. Thanks, that's what I figured. I might try it with some 36 gauge copper I have on hand.

  2. Sneaky Burrito has me wondering what gauges of metal paper punches are good for as well.

    I've seen plenty of different punches in different shapes but they are costly.

    This idea has got me thinking about different possibilities with aluminum cans. I'm thinking start with something that isn't wearable to experiment with(wind chimes?) and go from there...

    1. Best for aluminum can thickness of around 36 G. You can get some craft aluminum sheets in the 30's. Disc cutters are costly and shapes are limited. I've also used the Sizzix dies on aluminum cans.


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