Repurposed Vintage Milk Can/Painted for a Christmas Gift

12 Hours

This painted vintage milk can project features a summer scene with humming birds on one side and a proud bluejay on the other.
I did this project for one of my dad's cousins and cousins wife. Denis and his wife Shirley asked if I would paint something on a milk can they had so that they could give it to a friend for Christmas. Of course, I said yes.
This is the Milk can finished.
The milk can itself was in very good shape with very little rust. Only a small amount of sanding was required to get it ready for the paint.
Once the sanding was done I used up some partial cans of spray paint to prime the surface and provide a sealant. Then Zinsser primer was applied over the dry spray paint. This provided a single base color after having used up three different color spray paints.
A light yellow- green was mixed using acrylic paints to provide a background. The paint was applied with a 2 1/2'' utility brush and dabbed on.
Not having a full scene in mind yet some fence posts were started and the front part of the painting would be developed from here.
There was to be hummingbirds in the scene so 4 were placed on the can. Though they can not be seen well yet their placement let me know where flowers and grasses could be added.
These were going to be decorative birds rather than actual Hummers. Once the birds were developed a bit more it was time to workaround on the other side.
A Bluejay was decided on and this photo shows him at the point of completion.
He is a little larger than your typical Bluejay.
Left side of the Hummingbird painting
Right side. The detailing and highlighting was done to bring the scene to life.
This again is the first photo. To tighten up the scene because there was so much open space I spray painted the dark green on which really helped the picture stand out.
Acrylic gloss was applied to the painted scene first then two coat of Rustoleum clear gloss was added. Denis and Shirley delivered the present and it was very well received.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Tex21773744
    on Aug 29, 2017

    Where does your aunt live in Texas. We are outside of Ft. Worth.
  • RebeccaHupp
    on Aug 31, 2017

    Did you paint the hummingbirds or use decals?
  • Neva.levings
    on Sep 9, 2017

    What about using old nail polish? I have bottles discarded coloursr.
    • Phillipcardjr
      on Sep 11, 2017

      Nail polish can be used to paint something. The polish is oil based so it will not mix with acrylic paint though you can use oil on top of acrylic.

Join the conversation

2 of 61 comments
  • Ardale
    on Aug 30, 2017

    Phillip you are a true artist! This milk can is stunning! Shirley's friend is one lucky lady! Love the scene you painted and the birds are beautiful! Wish I a tenth of your talent. Thanks for sharing!
  • Cheryl Lewis
    on Aug 25, 2018

    Mind blown. I literally picked up a few extra bottles of paint yesterday to paint an Autumn scene on my milk can. In the 20 years I've had it I've painted it black with an American Eagle & flag, a countryside scene & a covered bridge. I hate to paint over some of the other things, but love that I can.

    You did a great job. Hope mine turns out at well as yours.

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