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Shabby French Tin Can Vase – Easy DIY Project

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An upcycled shabby French tin can vase.

You may already know that I love to cook. Typically I don’t use a lot of canned ingredients except for when I make homemade Italian foods or soups. On these occasions I use lots of canned tomatoes. Just this past Sunday I made a large batch of Italian meatballs and sausages for a Super Bowl party. The recipe I use traveled all the way from Bari, Italy in 1916 with my husband’s 15-year-old grandfather. Anyway, I had a few empty cans leftover which is how this shabby French tin can vase idea was born.

Recycle or Upcycle

Our household definitely recycles when we are able, but when I was looking at these large empty cans I felt that they just had to be upcycled as something else.

It didn’t dawn on me until later that night when I was in the pantry and I noticed some of my super-cheap napkins. An idea was immediately born and I hoped that I could bring my vision to life. 


  • Empty can(s) – labels removed – washed, cleaned and completely dried.
  • Cocktail napkins with French style theme or theme of your choice.
  • Chalk-type paint in your desired color choice. I used Amy Howard One-Step Paint in Palmer Pink.
  • ModPodge
  • Scissors
  • Small sponge applicator paint brush.
  • Protective mat  for work surface.

This is How We Do It:

1. Clean and wash cans well. The labels should come off very easily. Make sure the cans are completely dry before you begin the next step.

2. Using a sponge brush add a coat of chalk-type paint. It doesn’t need to be neat or an even coat. Let dry.

3. Add a second coat of paint and let dry completely.

4. Separate napkin layers. You only want to use the decorative outer layer.

5. Carefully cutout the decorative pieces that you want to use on your tin can vase.

6. Use the sponge applicator to apply a coat of ModPodge where you would like to apply your shabby French artwork. Gently lay the paper over the ModPodge. The paper can tear very easily so work very carefully.

7. Let dry completely.

très magnifique

Cans are already made water-tight so they are perfect as vases for flowers. It looks beautiful atop the chalk painted books that I created awhile back.

Another bonus is that you can make unlimited unique and creative vases. This is a shabby French tin can vase, but think of all of the napkin designs – that’s how many vase ideas there are. 

Think of dinner party themes and holiday ideas too!

This vase works perfectly for Valentine’s Day as well. How about as a gift? Another wonderful thing is this was a totally free project! It doesn’t get any better than that!

I hope that I have inspired you in some small way today. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Don’t forget to Pin this to Your favorite Pinterest Board!


  1. Ok you guys – that’s it – I am RUNNING to the store to find some napkins so I can do one of these projects too. This looks like something I would happily pay for in the store and I am blown away that it’s an empty can! Love, love, love your creative ideas! Hugs, CoCo

  2. Paula McNeely says:

    WOW!! Wish they sold napkins by the piece instead of a pkg. What a wonderful idea. Love it! Now to find somee bigly cans…..

  3. How fun! I have been collecting individual paper napkins that I like for years! (You know, bring home an extra from a party that you think is pretty, and put it in your stash.) Recently, my husband opened a giant can of tuna that he got at a bargain. I’ve been looking and looking at the empty can, and even ran it through the dishwasher. I knew I wanted to do SOMETHING with it. Now I know what! Thanks for sharing!

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