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Transforming Tin Cans and Containers

by Janet Ashford, author of The Arts and Crafts Computer

I sometimes choose a brand of olive oil based solely on my desire to have the beautiful decorated can in which it’s packed. But the many ordinary tin cans and containers that come into our homes can be transformed with computer-generated art and used as pencil or brush holders, letter boxes, storage containers, and so on. Thrift stores are a good source for tin boxes with lids, of the type used for holiday cookies and candies.

Creating art for candy tins

I like Altoids peppermints and consequently have a collection of empty tins that seem too cute and potentially useful to throw away. To decorate a batch of them, I masked off the lids with masking tape and painted the bottoms green, using high-gloss latex paint. While these were drying, I scanned another tin by placing it directly on the scanner, and in Photoshop removed all but the borders to create a template.

Then, still working in Photoshop, I imported square and round ornaments from Celtic Designs CD-ROM and Book (Dover, 1997) and used the template as a guide for sizing and positioning them. I cut one design in half and rotated the halves to create ornaments for the outside edges of the lid design.

I added color to the white spaces in the designs, using the paint bucket tool.

I lined up four lid designs in a grid and printed the designs on glossy photo sticker paper.

I cut out the stickers with scissors and applied them to the box lids, where they Þt snugly inside the red and gold borders already printed there. These handsome little boxes with their hinged lids can be carried in a pocket or purse and make handy containers for guitar picks, matches, vitamins, and other small odds and ends (see the last figure on the next page).

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