Monday, 28 January 2013

Upcycled chocolate tins

Two chocolate tins were kicking around the office after Christmas, and I whisked them home to have a go at transforming them into pretty cake tins. I wanted to let loose with a spray can and these seemed like the perfect first project.

The paint came from Wilkinsons, and cost about £3 per can. After each tin, I still have just under half a can left, so it was quite cheap.
Interestingly, the Heroes tin (blue) took the paint really well, but the Quality Street tin was another matter, with the paint struggling to stick. Three coats later though, and I was pleased with the effect. The spraying took up a day, with about three or four coats applied.

I faced the usual fun stuff when using aerosols – horrible fumes, motes of dust and tiny hairs deciding to stick to the wet paint, etc. I also had to be patient between coats, something I am terrible at. But at the end of day one, each tin was coated nicely. Success.

The Quality Street tin had an embossed lid that I didn’t really want people to see, so I came up with the idea of giving it a padded fabric panel on top. I cut out a couple of pieces of octagonal cardboard and stuck them together to make a sturdy base, then simply stretched a piece of scrap fabric over some wadding and stapled it all secure. Loads of strong glue and a heap of heavy books on top overnight secured it nicely. When it was dry, I ran the glue round the edge and glittered it up to hide where it meets the tin.

Next came the risky part – I bought potted paint and decided to try hand-painting the tins. I didn’t want the tins to finish up looking too polished, or mass produced, and a hand painted look would give the tins the folk-art look I wanted. But sometimes something can look great in your head and turn out, well, rubbish. But I bit the bullet and went ahead.

It paid off! The potted paints don’t smell or give off nasty fumes like the spray cans. They mix beautifully and the consistency is perfect, I had no problems with dripping or anything like that. The closest thing I can compare it to is using acrylic paint, though obviously this is a more permanent medium, and with a smoother finish. They’re also water based, so no need for horrible paint thinners to clean your brushes. It goes on like a dream and you can go into fine detail no problem. It also dries fast. Cue shouts of hooray from impatient people everywhere. 

I painted the green tin’s fairly basic patterns first, and it went so well I was emboldened to try something more complicated for the blue tin. I wanted something that was illustrator-y and slightly unconventional, so I came up with a portrait illustration for the lid, and little cake illustrations for the sides.

So, at the end, I’d probably give this revamp job 7 out of ten. I’m pleased with the end result, and the paints are really good. I learnt some lessons for next time - I’d probably mask off the top of the tins where the lid goes, as I suspect repeated use will wear the paint away there. The fabric cover on the green looks alright, but now I don’t think I’d use this tin for food storage as washing up would be tricky. But overall it’s been fun and I loved painting the little pictures and patterns. If other people have tried similar projects I’d love to hear your feedback.


  1. This is adorable! I loved the creative take on these, and what you did to your tin! I'm not able to paint or draw very well, but I can imagine this being something that you could stencil or use other mediums. And! I'd be thrilled if one of my friends handed me something like this!

    Ps- I love your header (is it new?), and your adorable spray paint, "let's rock" blurp. So cute.

    1. Hey Bri, thanks very much! The header's been there since the start, but I've got different coloured versions I'll probably put up once in a while. I did think about stencilling and I think it would definitely be worth doing, maybe next time! :-)

  2. They turned out so nicely! This is such a good idea for old tins.
    Katie xx


    Off to buy big tin of chocolates

    purely to revamp of course

    noodleBubble x

    1. Haha, of course, purely for the tin! Hope you get on well with it :-)

  4. I love the transformation! Such a super idea!

    Stopping by from Blogging Buddies and a new follower of yours!

    Jessica ... Come stop by sometime :)

  5. Such a good ideas, and I love your pictures :)

    Please come and check out my latest post if you have a few minutes spare :)



  6. This is a great way to give old boring tins a new life. :)