This might be one of my most favorite crafts. I am inherently distrustful of crafts made from recyclables because I think a lot of the times they just look like slightly fancier trash. I’ve had to eat my words before, and it looks like I’ll have to do it again! When will I learn that recyclable art is amazing?
These milagros look nothing like the Diet Coke cans they started out as. They look so delicate and beautiful when they’re done, that I’ve started to wonder where else I can put them around my house. I have a feeling several will end up tied to people’s gifts this Christmas.
Here’s the tutorial so that you can make your own milagros! Before you get started, I will say that this is not a project for the kiddos. It requires the use of a knife, and the aluminum is not something you’d want kids running around with. That being said, I never had any problems (as an adult) with the aluminum edges of the can. So this is a craft for 14 and older!
Exacto knife or straight edge razor
Drink a ton of Diet Coke. Just kidding! It’s not necessary, but you will need some empty coke cans. Use your knife to cut the top and bottom off of your coke can. The edges of your can will be sharp, but unless you’re sliding your fingers repeatedly across the edge you won’t cut yourself.
Once you’ve got the top and bottom off of the can, use your scissors to cut straight up one edge of the can. That way you can roll it out and what’s left of the can will be shaped like a rectangle.
Straighten out the rectangle remains of your can. It’s a lot easier to work with when the aluminum is flat. Now, you’ll want to trace your milagros out onto the coke can. You can create your own stencils on cardstock paper or you can use mine! You can download my stencils here. They’ll print out on a regular 8.5×11″ sheet of paper, and you can cut them out yourself.
I used a marker to trace out my stencils onto the coke cans. Remember to do it on the back of the can!
Use scissors to cut out around the traced stencil. Again, the edges that I cut out weren’t dangerously sharp. Again, I wouldn’t let a kiddo do this project, but I wasn’t worried at all. Your milagros should look like this when you’re done.
Adding grooves, whether they’re just outlines or designs, really make these look detailed and traditional. I used a Phillips head screwdriver and added in the lines to fill in the heart. To make my lines perfect, I held a heart stencil up against my milagro and ran the screwdriver along the edge.
Paint your design! I went with traditional gold and red for my milagros, but they come in all sorts of colors. You can get so creative here! Or if you want you can skip the painting part altogether. They look lovely just as they are as well.
If you are painting, just know that it’s going to take a couple of coats.
To lose a little bit of the aluminum’s shine and give them a vintage feel, I stained my milagros. If you like yours shiny, then you can skip this step. I think that this is really the part though that makes them look nothing like a coke can anymore!
I folded up a paper towel and dipped it into the wood stain. Apply the stain liberally to your milagro. I made about 50 of these for this project and applied stain on 15 at a time. You want it to dry a little bit. When it’s tacky instead of wet, it’s perfect!
When the stain feels tacky, you’re ready to rub off the majority of the stain! Using a new, folded up paper towel, rub off the stain in circular motions. Now, here’s where your artistic license comes into play: you can rub off most of it or keep a lot on there and it’ll look really old.
I also tried to buff the center of the heart because I figured that would be the part that would be the shiniest as they aged.
Here’s the final project!
You can check out the my entire Milagro Themed Christmas Tree here!