Not all aluminum cans have beautiful printed graphics, so this aluminum can wall hanging makes the best use of upcycling the plain unadorned silvery metal!
Phyllotaxis Patterns in Nature
Nature is full of wondrous patterns. All you have to do is look at the seeds of a sunflower to see a set of two spirals forming in opposing directions to each other known as the Fibonacci sequence. Today’s upcycle project (shown below) is based on the beautiful Fibonacci pattern immortalized in can and developed by the artists Hannah and Nemo. So if you’d rather buy than DIY, please go support them!
By the way, in case you’re interested, the Fibonacci sequence is based mathematically on the golden ratio. But since I couldn’t do math if my life depended on it, I’ll show you step-by-step how to create your own template using an easy cheat with GeoGebra’s Disc Phyllotaxis generator. I wasn’t sure what the difference is between Phyllotaxis and Fibonacci so this is what I found on Google:
A phyllotaxis is the arrangement of leaves around a plant stem. This is a natural pattern that utilizes the golden angle or fibonacci spiral pattern. A fibonacci spiral is a general pattern of numbers arranged around a center, as well as the sum of the previous two numbers.
Now that we have all that straight, let’s move onto something more fun than math – upcycle art!
Do It Over Designers
Today we’re taking part in the Do It Over Designers blog Hop hosted by Ann at The Apple Street Cottage.
We’re a group of bloggers who take something old and/or unused and ‘do it over’ into something new. These items can be found in closets, barns, garages, yard sales, thrift stores, you name it!
Check out the other ladies’ projects at the very bottom of this post. And be sure to drop back in throughout the week to visit them all!
aluminum can wall hanging Video
If you’re a visual learner, watch our video. Or read on for the full tutorial!
Gather Aluminum Cans
We scrounge the neighbourhood on recycle day for eye catching aluminum cans with bright, colourful graphics. But just when you think you’ve found a gorgeous graphic like this Rose cider can….
… it turns out to be plastic wrapped. Wah-wah! After removing the plastic you’re left with this plain shiny metal:
But, as you’ll see, this shiny metal can look just as spectacular in its own right as all-out colourful designs like the cabinet door art you see below! You can find the video for this more advanced project here if you like a challenge.
Aluminum Can Wall Hanging Supplies
[If you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered (disclosure): As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Clicking on the links in this post means we may receive a commission. But don’t worry, you don’t pay a cent more. Thanks for helping to support our blog!]
- X-Acto knife
- Titanium Scissors
- Aluminum cans
- Black paint
- Paint brush or foam brush
- 3/4” thick birch wood round (we cut our own from scrsp plywood, but you can also find various sizes and thicknesses pre-cut online)
- metal french cleat (to hang)
- Microplane cut resistant glove
- Rubber coated glove
- 3/4″ rabbit punch or available in 3/4″ EK tools circle punch (which also comes in different sizes like this 1/2″ EK Tools Circle punch)
- 1.5mm Beadsmith metal hole punch plier
- Uvex Safety Googles
- Microfibre cloth (for cleaning spots on cans)
- Nail Guide or needle nose plier
- 1/4″ Spacer (diy from wood or plastic)
- 18 gauge 5/8″ nails
- Awl or metal push pin (only for pilot holes in soft wood)
Before we get into the tutorial, don’t forget to get your craft mojo on at Birdz of a Feather and subscribe to our newsletter:
Create the Phyllotaxis Template
You may be wondering why we don’t just give you the template. After all, we do have a freebie library at Birdz on the Fly if you are a subscriber (where you’ll find a template for our innovative DIY tool to cut cans!). But this Fibonacci design is an idea developed by Hannah and Nemo, and as such, they may want to sell their own template one day. As a matter of fact, they just started selling templates with some really pretty mandala patterns, so check that out if it interests you! Anyhoo, if I show you how I did it, you may learn something about making your own templates if this is a craft you want to pursue for personal use.
First, go to GeoGebra the website. When you open it up, you’ll see a spiral with 100 seeds. I experimented to see what would fit into my wood round. I did a few different sizes (15″ and 22″) using a 3/4″ circle punch. If you’re using a 1/2″ punch, you might have to experiment more by changing the size of the magnitude and the number of seeds. Truth be told; it may take a bit of trial and error.
I’m using Illustrator as my graphics software.
Step 1. Set up the size of your artboard. In the example below, the artboard is set up for a 22″ wood round, but my final artwork for this project is actually 15″.
Along with the artboard, I create a 22″ inch circle and fill it with blue (it can be any colour). Set that aside for later.
Step 2. Create a circle to represent the discs. In my case, I create a 3/4″ circle in Illustrator using the Ellipse tool. That’s because I’m using this rabbit, from my days as a fashion designer, that punches 3/4″ circles. But if you have another size punch, you’ll want to adapt your own particular template accordingly.
In Illustrator, you can hold down the shift key to get a perfect circle, but it’s not really necessary. Since you can use the transform tool to enter in the exact width and height you want, just enter your size, as you see below.
Now, create another circle for the nail hole. Since I’m using a 1.5mm metal hole punch plier, this circle will be close to .059″.
To position, I create a 1/8″ box to space it and ensure it’s 1/8″ from the edge of the circle. Once the nail hole is where you want it, delete the box and group both circles together so they move as one.
Scale the Artwork
Step 3. Place the Phyllotaxis you generated at the GeoGebra website on the artboard. Then scale it to the size of the artboard, holding the shift key to scale it up evenly.
IMPORTANT: create a second layer before proceeding to the next step.
Step 4. Copy and paste each circle over the green circles generated by the Phyllotaxis generator. Because you’ll eventually delete the graphic, leaving just the circles, be sure you are pasting on the second layer. Once done, that makes it easy to trash Layer 1.
For the 15″ wood round I’m doing today, there are 244 discs to copy and paste (and 534 discs for the 22″ round). Yes, it is tedious to drag and drop hundreds of circles and I’m sure there’s a faster way. But this is how I did it.
Step 5. Delete the original graphic on Layer 1, leaving just the pattern of the discs with the nail holes. Move the blue circle onto the artboard (move to back if it covers it) so you can see the pattern and ensure it looks good.
Step 6. Print Template. You can now remove the blue background (you don’t need to print that) and create a tiled PDF which you’ll have to tape together. Or, as an alternative, print it at a place that can do large scale prints, like Staples. I set up an artboard with several other patterns to maximize the largest size blueprint that Staples can print. It was worth it; it cost around $10 for one sheet with five templates which is only $2 a piece.
Aluminum Can Wall Hanging
Now that you have a paper template, find aluminum cans that are plastic wrapped.
Remove the plastic to expose the plain aluminum.
Or watch the video below that explains how to punch the discs into circles and assemble. It has everything you need to know if you’re a beginner aluminum can artist (but includes our older, slightly slower method of cutting cans).
We have a separate video on how to make your own DIY can cutting tool for our new and improved way to break down the cans for crafts!
You’ll also need this 1.5mm Beadsmith metal hole punch plier to punch for the nail hole after you cut the discs.
Preparing the Wood Round
Paint the front of your wood round (in our case we painted dark grey).
We always install the hanging mechanism on the back first and then remove it so the piece will lie flat while working on it. Also, doing this first will make sure it won’t interfere with any of the nails on the front.
If you tiled your paper template, tape it together and then tape it to the wood round. Again, this one is 15″.
Use an awl or push pin with a hammer to make a pilot hole for each nail. However, if you use a push pin, it’s better to use a metal one; the plastic ones can shatter after repeated hammering.
Try to hammer straight up and down when you mark. As a result, you’ll get better alignment of the nails.
Nail the Discs
Remove the template. Add a silver disk onto the nail. Then use a nail guide or a needle nose plier to hold the nail as you hammer it into each pilot hole.
Hubs made me this tool, a 1/4″ piece of plastic with a slot, that ensures each nail is the same height. Such a simple DIY tool, but it does the job!
Crank up those tunes and go to work. And before long, your Phyllotaxis pattern will take shape.
When you stand it up, the silvery discs take on the colours of the surroundings. They look like huge sequins. If you celebrate Christmas, and your decor is modern, this would look spectacular over the mantle.
Aluminum Can Wall Hanging
It was a breezy day, so we took the aluminum can wall hanging out to film it so you can see how it shimmers in the breeze.
Unfortunately, this wall art isn’t suitable for outdoor use. We’ll have to source some stainless steel nails and waterproof wood if we want to do an actual outdoor piece.
Back inside we installed this metal french cleat to hang it.
It’s just amazing that something as humble as a beverage can can be upcycled into a beautiful aluminum can wall hanging! We now have our can craft hanging by our staircase where it fits in with our collection of black and white artwork. It’s mesmerizing whether or not there’s a breeze. But be sure to watch the video if you want to see it shimmer!
If you like this aluminum can wall hanging, you’ll love our other can craft ideas!
Our newest project is this geometric wall art; perfect for winter decor or to hang in any space you want a touch of modern flare.
Pin Aluminum Can Wall Hanging
Pinning is always welcome and appreciated!
Do It Over Designers
Our talented blogger friends have some amazing and inspiring DIYs for you! Don’t forget to visit these posts for more upcycled do-it-over transformations!