• Pair of tin snips (available at home or craftstores)

• Marker

• Sheet of A4-size recycled paper

• Drill with a 20 mm drill bit (also known as a hole saw)

• Fine metal file

• Safety goggles for drilling

•  Ventilation mask for painting


1 coffee shop–size coffee bean canister (We use a 100 oz Illy tin, but any metal canister will work)

1 hanging light fixture

1 can of low- or no-VOC white paint (ideally not solvent based)

1 can of brightly colored paint (Orange, green, and pink look great)

1 Rinse canister inside and out—though any lingering coffee bean fragrance is just fine by me! Mark eight equally spaced points around the top of the container.  

2 Drill holes (20 mm diameter) neatly and file until smooth. 

3 Between and perpendicular to the holes you just drilled, mark and drill another eight holes on the top of the side wall, just below where the canister tapers.

4 Draw a petal-like shape on the sheet of recycled paper, making sure the top width is the same as the distance between the lower holes. Trace petal template eight times, linking the holes on the side of the canister.

5 With the tin snips, carefully cut out your petals.

6 Using a large tube—or just your hands—roll back each petal until you achieve an organic-looking curve. (Don’t worry, the metal is thin.) File edges until smooth.

7 In a ventilated area, paint several coats of white paint on the outside, followed by several coats of color inside. Fit the hanging light fixture into the neck of the container, using the tin snips to trim if necessary.

8 Hang and wait for gasps when you tell friends you made the shade yourself.

Story by Max McMurdo. This article originally appeared in Plenty in August 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008.

Coffee canister becomes flower lamp
Max McMurdo transforms a discarded industrial coffee canister into a stunning, flower-inspired lampshade.