26 November 2011

Soda Can Embossing Tutorial

Pinterest has solidified in me the notion that people out there are extraordinarily talented.  If you're like me, you can queue things up on your boards that one day you need to do until you realize there just isn't enough time in the world for it all.  So, I've been trying to focus on starting and completing projects all the way (which is much harder for me than it sounds).  

Therefore, when I find really awesome, quick craft projects I can do entirely, I jump at the chance.  This particular project--Soda Can Embossing--is ridiculously easy!  You just need an empty aluminum soda can, a ballpoint pen, sandpaper / sanding block, and cardboard.  Soda cans are perfect for embossing because the aluminum is so thin, it holds a nice shape, and you don't have to buy extra materials.

One thing I love about the idea of embossing soda cans is how versatile this craft is.  You could use them for Christmas ornaments, gift tags, bookmarks, notes, scrapbooking embellishments, etc.  

Depending on how intricate your design is, this project can be done in under an hour.  I love that.  I'm planning on getting my whole family in on the idea of making some fun ornaments this year by embossing soda cans.  

Want to emboss your own aluminum cans?



  • Aluminum soda can
  • Scissors
  • Sand paper / Sanding block
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Cardboard (or soft mousepad) and scotch tape

Preparing the Soda Can
  1. Get all of your materials together (empty aluminum can, sand paper, pen, etc).
  2. Sand the outside of the can down (over a garbage can!).  This is mostly done to make embossing from the wrong side easier.  If you are planning to be able to see both sides of the aluminum in your finished product, you'll want to sand the front completely.  NOTE:  It is possible to sand the can down too much.  As soon as you don't see any color left, don't continue to sand unless you want to tear the aluminum. 
  3. Use a pair of scissors to cut the tops and bottom off of the can.  Don't use your best pair, because this will dull your scissors.  Be careful of ragged aluminum edges!  They certainly can cut you.
  4. Cut all of the raw, ragged edges off and round the corners for safety.

Embossing the Soda Can 

  1.  Tape the piece of aluminum down to the cardboard surface (or mousepad, or otherwise non-rigid, semi-spongy material).  The surface needs to be somewhat cushy to allow embossing; a hard surface will not work.
  2. Emboss the design on the wrong side into the aluminum with a ballpoint pen or embossing tool.  Remember that this side will be seen in reverse, so any words, symbols, etc. will need to be written backwards.  (TIP: Draw the desired design in sharpie on a piece of white paper and flip the paper over.  Use this as a reference while embossing.)
  3. Turn the piece of aluminum over to the right side and tape it back down to the surface.  Trace around the insides and outsides of the embossed lines.  This will make the relief show up much stronger.
  4. Flip the aluminum over once more to the wrong side and retrace the design with a ballpoint pen once more.
The embossing is now done!  Cut around the design as desired, taking caution to round the edges.  I put eyelets on the sides of mine and tied some embroidery floss to the sides so that I could use it as a tag.

Here, I added some eyelets to the sides of my tag.

 I am imagining these tags on all of my gifts and letters I give out for the next few months.  I'm super excited!

Of course, I'm ridiculous enough to have given this to my fiance.  Did you know that fiance is spelled with one e if you're referring to the male counterpart and two e's if it's the woman? 
Regardless, I'm just happy that he's so sweet as to tell me he loves it.  He's wonderful.

Happy soda can embossing, all!


  1. Oh, thank you so much for sharing - just in time for Xmas and I have spent the summer collecting tin cans! Lis

  2. A wee suggestion....after you've enjoyed the drink, fill can with water and freeze, that gives a stable based in the can for the sanding, I use stello pad's to sand with....sooo easy

  3. If you know anyone who works at a print shop, lithoplate is better than soda cans and already relatively flat. It also comes in 2' x 3' plates or larger, so much larger projects are possible. Also the rubber press blankets are an ideal surface for working on.

  4. Very Cool, I'm going to do this. So many possibilities. Fairly easy and it looks great, plus all things that re-purpose our trash are terrific.