Recycled Tin Cans in My Studio

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These tins, diverted from their destiny as trash or rescued from the recycling bin, wait to be opened up and flattened as my raw material.

I use ordinary tins like the olive oil tins above from the grocery tins.

Vintage tins are displayed around my studio. It is very interesting to observe what packaging has to say about time and place. Colors, words and images are a reflection of social structure and the values of society.

First, the bottoms are carefully pried off and the sides pounded flat. This takes about 10 minutes per can.

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After the tins are flat, they are stored on shelves. Look at Wall of Tins to see just a small portion of my flattened tins.

People often ask where do I get my tins? The answer is that everyone I know gives me tins all the time -- from my exercise class, my children's orthodontist, the dry cleaner, and many others. My father also gets lots of tins at flea markets and church rummage sales. My sister goes to yard sales.

Frequently, people who read about my work in magazines or on the internet just send me a box of tins.

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Sometimes people give me tins because the tin can holds emotional or sentimental significance. They want to know their tins are going to be made into something else, possibly leading a second life.


Wall of Tins

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The tins are opened, flattened and organized by color and theme. 

Themes organizing the tins include: 

  • candy 
  • candy patterns
  • cookies
  • crackers
  • standing women
  • sitting women
  • vintage ads
  • new products
  • holidays
  • and more! 

The wall of tins in my studio has 1000's of tin cans ready to use as my raw material.

* Photo Credit for all images on this page: Aryn Shelander
 

 

If the tins don't fit into a specifc category, they are organized by color. For example, here are the yellow tins.

If the tins don't fit into a specifc category, they are organized by color. For example, here are the yellow tins.

Game tins are opened and stored separately.

Game tins are opened and stored separately.

A specturm of green tins.

A specturm of green tins.

Tins that will be useful for my Judaica are stored in a separate area in my "wall of tins."

Tins that will be useful for my Judaica are stored in a separate area in my "wall of tins."

Keeping my tins organized helps me to find what I need.

Keeping my tins organized helps me to find what I need.

These shelves hold tin cans and game board boxes filled with work in progress along with materials and supplies for new work.

These shelves hold tin cans and game board boxes filled with work in progress along with materials and supplies for new work.


CUTTING TIN CANS

These irons are part of my extensive iron collection.  Learn more about my iron hallmark. I buy every tool that I can find for cutting metal. Each type of metal cutting shear works a little differently.

These irons are part of my extensive iron collection. 
Learn more about my iron hallmark.

I buy every tool that I can find for cutting metal. Each type of metal cutting shear works a little differently.

 
Cutting tin cans Tin cans are usually cut by hand with metal cutting shears shown above. If I am cutting larger cans or straight lines it is faster to use the step shear shown below.

Cutting tin cans

Tin cans are usually cut by hand with metal cutting shears shown above. If I am cutting larger cans or straight lines it is faster to use the step shear shown below.

This is a STEP SHEAR. Stepping on the yellow horizontal pedal lowers the blade like a guillotine.  This is a very dangerous tool if you aren't careful. You could easily cut off your fingers.  If you watch the Grass video or The Fabrication Process video to see the shear in action.  PEXTO is the brand name, a superior quality American tool company. My father got this shear for me many years ago.

This is a STEP SHEAR. Stepping on the yellow horizontal pedal lowers the blade like a guillotine. 

This is a very dangerous tool if you aren't careful. You could easily cut off your fingers. 
If you watch the Grass video or The Fabrication Process video to see the shear in action. 

PEXTO is the brand name, a superior quality American tool company. My father got this shear for me many years ago.