Altered Paint Cans
by Ramona Greenspan (Apr 15, 2005)

Crafters are always looking for new and innovative ways to use their supplies. The latest craze is altered paint cans--yes, the empty paint cans that you can purchase from your local hardware or home improvement store. They are a fun, easy and inexpensive way to create a one-of-a-kind gift. The process is easy, and only takes a few steps:

Purchase a clean empty paint can at your local hardware store.

Measure around the diameter of the can with a flexible sewing tape measure.

Cut the background paper you’ve chosen to the measured size. Several different coordinating papers can also be layered together for a unique look.

When you cut the paper, remember to allow room for the handle. An easy way to do this is to use a circle punch and punch out a half circle where the handle will be. Do this for both sides of the can. (This step is not necessary if your can does not have a handle.)

Adhere the background paper to the can using a liquid adhesive such as Mod Podge. Use a foam paint brush to be sure that all edges of the paper are covered with glue.

Once the paper is attached to the can, flatten out any bubbles with your fingertips.

Finally, apply a top layer of Mod Podge to protect the can from damage.

While you can certainly stop there, most crafters know that embellishing is the best part. This is where you can really jazz up your paint can. Below is a list of embellishments that can be added to the can or the handle to give it that special touch.


There are all kinds of ways you can use altered paint cans. They make great storage containers for your scrapbook supplies or you can use them as fun re-usable gift baskets. Some gift ideas include:

Chocolate Lover - Fill with a favorite chocolate and chocolate-scented candles.

New Baby – Fill with onesies, a rattle, baby bath products, wash cloths, and a mini photo album.

Book Lover - Include a gift certificate to a bookstore, a bookmark and an itty bitty booklight.

Get Well - Fill with magazines, puzzles, candy, pens and pencils.

Bon Voyage – Fill with travel-size toiletries, a journal, a disposable camera, postcard stamps and film.

Teacher Gift – Fill with note cards, pens, candy, paperweight, stickers and rubber stamps.

Spa in a Can – Fill with soap, lotion, candles and bath salt.

A Night at the Movies – Fill with microwavable popcorn, assorted candy and a gift certificate to movie rental store.

Garden Party – Include packets of seed, a small bag of soil, garden gloves, and hand-held garden tools.

These are just some of the many ideas for things with which you can fill your altered paint cans. The recipient not only gets to enjoy its contents but will have this one-of-a-kind piece of altered art to cherish for years to come.