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Drinks cans transformed into accessories at the Festival of Thrift

Read on for instructions on how to create these amazing recycled brooches. Image: Festival of Thrift/Kathryn Guy

Getting creative with recycled drinks cans is just one of the crafty activities that people can turn their hand to at this year’s Festival of Thrift.

The Festival, a national celebration of recycling, reusing and upcycling, take place at Lingfield Point in Darlington, on September 26 and 27. The festival offers a weekend of “free frugal fun” including crafty workshops, demonstrations and performances, as well as craft, food and drink stalls.

Kathryn Guy will lead a workshop during the weekend, showing people how to make thrifty accessories from recycled drinks cans. Ahead of the festival, Kathryn has shared how to make one of her statement brooches...    

You will need:

  • One empty aluminium drinks can, washed and dried
  • A pair of scissors
  • A plier punch
  • Flower shaped paper punches in various sizes
  • Alcohol inks in a variation of colours or permanent markers 
  • A paper brad
  • Cotton or wool pads
  • A brooch pin
  • Clear enamel spray varnish
  • A sheet of plastic or old newspapers to protect the work surface
  • Gloves to protect hands 

The simple drinks can is transformed! Image: Festival of Thrift/Kathryn Guy

How to make the brooch: 

  1. Using the point of a pair of scissors, carefully pierce a hole into the side of the drinks can, then cut a slit from the top to the bottom of the can. Cut around the can to remove its top and bottom, leaving a sheet of aluminium. Make sure there are no sharp edges by cutting a straight edge with the scissors. 
  2. Use the flower shaped paper punches to punch shapes in various sizes from the sheets of aluminium. 
  3. Cover your work surface with plastic sheets or a thick layer of old newspapers. Drop alcohol inks in two or more colours onto the unprinted side of the aluminium flower shapes. Use a cotton pad to blend the colours and create different effects. Try to work fast as the permanent inks dry very quickly. Hand sanitiser will remove any ink from fingers. 
  4. Using the plier punch make a hole in the centre of each of the flower shapes. Position the flower shapes on top of each other in size order (largest at the bottom, smallest at the top) and assemble using a paper brad. Before opening the paper brad slide it through a brooch pin and then open.
  5. For a stylish finishing touch, attach a button instead of a paper brad. Secure this by stitching the button to the brooch pin.


Permanent markers can be used as an alternative to alcohol inks. 

To brighten up the garden, use your flowers to decorate the garden shed or fence.

For more information on Festival of Thrift 2015, visit

By Lucy

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