How to Recycle Graffiti Paint Cans

5 Materials
NEW! We're going to give a Hometalk LIVE tutorial for one of the recycled book art projects featured in our post at the link below on November 9:
Hope you'll join us!
Did you know that the insides of graffiti paint cans are like mini pieces of art? Find out how we saved a pack of forgotten spray cans from the wild and turned them into a ooak art lamp.
I don't know about you guys...but we never seem to be in sync with the holidays in time to have something with the right hashtag. I have to be stresses me out! I guess that's why we just share our favorites when we think of it :)
This time around it's our ooak repurposed graffiti spray paint lamp.
Tips on how to make one for yourself:
1. First wrap the wire into whatever circular (barrel) shape you want. I chose a pretty wide oversized shape...'cause that's how I roll.
2. Take those graffiti cans and empty the of all paint - and gas! That means you gotta find yourself a scrap sheet of wood, head outdoors, and press that cap down until you don't hear the 'hiss' of the gas anymore. It can take 3-5 minutes per can. Another tip...after you've sprayed out everything in an upright position, turn the can upside down and keep spraying! This step is super important...if in doubt, keep spraying far after you think it's empty.
3. Put a puncture hole in the can - just to make sure that all gas has been released. This can be done with a sharp pointed tool of any kind...and a hammer. Alternatively you can use a metal borr.
4. Here's where I nearly lost a finger! I hand cut each and every panel out with heavy duty scissors. It worked, but caused my finger to really swell up bad since it took so much pressure to do the cutting. I cut off the top of the can...and the bottom of the can. Next time I think I'll use some kind of metal saw and see how that works.
What's left are these beautiful....
...little panels of one-of-a-kind art!
You see, when you open the graffiti spray cans you never know what you're going to get inside. Those little balls that you hear when you shake a can? Sometime they leave the most incredible patterns on the inside of the can! I was in love with each can that I opened.
I punched a hole (can also use drill) in each corner of each little panel. Then found a simple silver wire to 'hang' them in open spaces around the wire fencing.
I then used a thin twisted wire in three points around the form to hang from a hook in the ceiling. The inner round lamp was purchased at a thrift store.
I also like honoring the material when I always try to leave traces of the original. In this case it was to leave the outsides of the cans untreated - and now they are the insides of the lamp. That way you see the labels when you look up and into the lamp.
I also the metal wire hanging down at the reminds me of little tassles.
Time to hop to it and make one for yourself! Be adventurous with your shapes...and be careful with your fingers!
This project doesn't cost much, but it definitely takes time. All good art does!
If you want to see more of our stuff, hop over to our website:
Reuse - Repurpose - Relove

Suggested materials:

  • Wire fencing   (salvaged)
  • Graffiti spray paint cans   (salvaged from a graffiti wall area)
  • Face mask   (home builder store)
See all materials

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

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  3 questions
  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Sep 22, 2016
    I am curious as to how you would cut them?Do they not explode?

  • Rosa B Rosa B on Sep 22, 2016
    What is the difference between regular spray paint and grafitti spray paint. I don't think I have ever seen grafitti spray paint.

  • Tanya Marks Tanya Marks on Sep 22, 2016
    How did you treat the edges of the metal?


Join the conversation

2 of 47 comments
  • Erlyelly Erlyelly on Nov 20, 2016
    Seems gorgeous. I would be too chicken I think to do this but might try it with dried out empty paint cans. Instead of throwing away and maybe after I've let them rust for awhile and then cut with tin snips and hammer flat or run over them in my gravel driveway. I want to clarify I am talking about regular non aerosol paint cans. Or maybe just use the round lids you pry off the small tins that are all patina'd from stain or paint.