Painted Rusty Cans

It’s been WEEKS since I have had time to create…a STRESSFUL couple of weeks, so today’s fun project was much needed.

Yes, yes…I’m goofing around with cans again, this time I’m trying to make them look rusty. Of course this was Pinterest inspired…I wasn’t able to find the exact paints suggested by the blogger who posted this project, so I had to shop and experiment a bit to get the look just right. (DARN!)

What started this whole thing was that I bought some tiny cans of tomato sauce at the grocery…Now, I don’t normally buy the small cans, nor do I buy sauce, but there was a special (3 cans for 99 cents). I couldn’t pass up the deal, so I bought 9 cans and made spaghetti sauce for dinner. (Nothing like a $3 dinner!) While the sauce stewed, the cans sat there on my countertop, and my muse started to twirl. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them away, they were adorable. So of course, I cleaned them up and decided to find a project. I texted a girlfriend and asked…”what can I do with these little cans?” so, she sent me a series of Pinterest ideas. When I saw a post of painted cans made to look as if they were rusty, I knew I had found the perfect project!

tom cans

Terra Cotta spray paint and multi-colored spray paint were the supply items suggested to create the rusty look but I did not find either of those at Michael’s or Lowe’s, so I had to improvise. At Michael’s I sifted through the hundreds of colors of cheap acrylic craft paint until I found “Terra Cotta”. Then I went next door to Lowes and bought a flat brown spray paint.


For the first round of cans, I painted the terra cotta directly onto the can. MISTAKE! The paint was easily chipping off! I knew I needed to come up with some kind of primer… MODGE PODGE to the rescue! This is one of my favorite craft supplies because It has SO MANY uses. For my second round of cans, I coated each can with modge podge and let it dry before adding the terra cotta color. It worked like a charm! Do not worry about putting a perfect coat of paint onto the can because you are going to add a layer of spray paint afterward. The terra cotta acts as a bleed-through base color, so it can be brushed on unevenly. (This appeals to me because I am a sloppy artist! HA!)

terra cotta on can

After the terra cotta paint was dry I took the cans outside for a coat of the flat brown spray paint. The trick here is to spray on a light coat so some of the terra cotta color shows through…giving the can that true rusty look, while the brown makes it looks like the rust has been there forever.


(Continue to add subtle layers of the brown paint until you are happy with the look you want to achieve)

You will notice in this photo I punched hearts into the cans. My first intent was to create luminary lanterns, but the holes ended up being too small and did not create the effect I was looking for ~ ANOTHER MISTAKE!…so the decision was made for me, these will end up being small succulent planters instead. The next step was painting a cream-colored heart inside the punched holes. As I was doing this (painting free-hand) my vision was to make the hearts look as if Laura Ingles from “Little House on the Prairie” had painted them. SUCCESS!!!!

For fun, I painted one more different sized can (campbell’s soup) and added heavy cord twine at the top to look like a rope handle (hot-glued to the inside, pictured) and some smaller twine and painted wooden hearts for added touch of “preciousness”.

(A few days later), I took cuttings from my 11 year old jade and a few other succulents in my collection and planted them in the “rusty” cans. Its so adorable…I can’t wait to add more!




Thank you so much for following my blog, these little projects are so much fun and definitely a great way for me to blow off steam. More to come!


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One Comment Add yours

  1. Paula Gray says:

    These are so cute!
    Love your creativity.


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