Garden Markers Made From Soda Cans

This has been done before, but I learned a few tips I thought I could pass along. These little garden signs are quick and easy to make, and not expensive.
First, cut the top and bottom off several soda cans. They surprisingly cut easily with regular scissors.
Then choose your material to attach the metal signs to. I decided to use CEDAR SHIMS. They are tapered at the bottom, making them easy to drive into the soil, and the cedar makes them resistant to rot. They come in bundles of 25 for about $3. It's good to have these now, so you can plan the size of your lettering.
I used graph paper to do my lettering, sizing the letters to fit my sticks. You could also type them in your favorite font and print them out.
Tape your words onto the back (silver) side of your aluminum soda can scraps, lay them on a magazine to have a softer surface, and trace and fill in the words, pressing hard to emboss your letters into the metal. (I first tried doing this in reverse, pressing into the printed side of the soda can so the letters would be raised, but the ink wouldn't cooperate and that didn't work.) (OMG!! My hands are so rough! And DIRTY after doing all the inking!! Sorry!)

Next I rubbed a generous amount of StazOn ink onto the embossed area, making sure to get it into all the details of each letter. Then I rubbed off the excess ink around the flat parts outside the lettering.
The ink wasn't as dark as I wanted so I used a stylus and deepened the embossing, pressing against a magazine again, like the first time. Then I re-inked it and wiped off the excess again and then it looked a LOT better.
I trimmed the jagged edges and sharp corners, and used my stylus to score along the edges of my shims to wrap the metal tightly around.
Fastened it on the back with a staple gun. Easy Peasy!
I think they are cute, but I'm obviously going for the primitive distressed look!
Here it is in my garden. I made 6 in about 2 hours, start to finish. These are just for the herbs in my little kitchen garden: Parsley, Thyme, Sage, Chives, Oregano, and Basil. I am spraying 3 of them with sealer (Krylon Chrystal Clear Acrylic), but also experimenting with leaving 3 of them plain to see if they last without sealer. I think the StazOn ink will be fine. Total cost $6 (shims and sealer.) I had the StazOn on hand.
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Shari Lindberry
    on Apr 2, 2018

    Great idea! How to keep from sharp edges?

    • Melissa
      on May 7, 2020

      I wonder if this would work on the metal and copper garden

      tags you buy? I usually write on those with a Sharpie, but it does eventually wear off.

  • Anna Smith
    on Jan 12, 2019

    Could you use something than the cans. Dogs like to chew on sticks,my friends dog chewed on something like this and the sharp tin sliced his throat and he bled out. I would worry if a dog wanted to get the sticks to chew on.

  • Nancy
    on May 7, 2020

    Aren't the edges of the cut pieces of cans extremely sharp?

    • Lovesunique
      on Jun 11, 2020

      I've made cutouts using the soda cans. So thin, no worries about getting cut (unless you're handling like paper and I suppose it is remotely possible to get a slice in your finger). Now a dog grabbing the shims and chewing that could lead to something. My dogs chew the dog and cat food cans all the time.

Join the conversation

3 of 45 comments
  • Krafty Kathy
    on May 8, 2020

    Your calligraphy is beautiful!

  • Jackie
    on May 8, 2020

    This is a great idea! I love the look of galvanized metal and this would be an affordable solution to make metal signs to match. Thanks for sharing

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