How To Make Tin Tinsel From A Tin Can

Turn trash into treasure! Make tin tinsel icicles out of a tin can!

Old-Fashioned Twisted Metal Icicles From A Tin Can

If you’re wondering what you can make with tin cans, you’ve come to the right place! Empty tin cans are perfect to make DIY metal Christmas ornaments.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I love upcycling! Here I recycled tin cans into old-fashioned tinsel ornaments. And I love how these metal icicles turned out: They look stunning as vintage Christmas tree decorations! The tinsel icicles hang on strings so that they twist in the air and reflect the light. And what’s best, this tin can craft takes just a couple of minutes to make!

History Of Tinsel

Tinsel was already used in medieval times to decorate the Christmas tree. Medieval tinsel was made of real silver.

‘The oldest record we have of a Christmas-tree dates from 1604 […] At Christmas, a fir-tree is put into the room, on which are hung roses made of colored paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, sweetmeats, etc.’ (Folklore, 1892)

By the Victorian era tinsel was made of tin foil because it was cheaper and didn’t tarnish like real silver. To make Victorian tin tinsel, a thin leaf of tin was cut into thin strips.

Metallic icicles, like the ones I’m making here, are often sold as Victorian tinsel ornaments. However, I haven‘t found a reference yet that this twisted tin tinsel was actually used in the Victorian era. Obviously, it was first produced in the 1930s. In the 1930s, these old-fashioned tin tinsel ornaments were often two-colored, such as red & silver or green & silver, and were then known as jewelled tinsel.

Related: The Victorian Christmas Tree

Nibbler Or Tin Snips To Make Tin Tinsel

A nibbler works much better to make handmade tin tinsel out of a tin can. Because a nibbler cuts the tin tinsel and creates a spiral in one step! It can’t get any easier than this to make metal icicles! The nibbler also creates edges that are rough but not sharp so you don’t have to file the edges smooth.

But if you don’t have a nibbler, you can try making tin icicles with tin snips instead. But be prepared that it’s a lot more work! Since you have to cut the tin into strips, smooth the sharp edges and twist the tin strips into twisted icicles. In addition, the twists are never as even as when made with a nibbler.

Handmade Tin Icicles Upcycling Tin Can Ideas

How To Make Tin Tinsel From A Tin Can

You’ll Need:

  • empty tin can
  • string or thread
  • nibbler (or tin snips)
  • metal hole punch for jewelry

Turn Tin Can Into Tin Sheet

Wash and dry the empty tin can. Use a can opener to remove the bottom of the tin can. Then cut the tin can open using the nibbler (or tin snips) turning the tin can into a slightly curved sheet of metal. By the way, it isn’t necessary to flatten the tin can before making twisted tin icicles.

Related: Easy DIY Oil Lamp From A Tin Can

Make Tin Tinsel

Using your nibbler, cut along the long sides of the tin can. While cutting, the nibbler rolls the waste material in a tight spiral – this is your upcycled tin can tinsel ornament! Now just grab both ends of the spiral and gently pull the spiral apart.

Add Thread

Punch a small hole into one end of the DIY tin icicles with a hole punch for jewelry. And thread a piece of string or thread through the hole as hanger.

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How To Make Tin Tinsel From A Tin Can

2 thoughts on “How To Make Tin Tinsel From A Tin Can

  1. What brand of nibbler did you use?(there are so many and I’m not sure if the metal will curl). Would love to try this using that tool. Thanks in advance, lori

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