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About CANtern Hand-cut Luminaries

What I enjoy about making the CANtern luminaries is the way they allow me to think in the exact opposite way I do when I make fences or sculpture… When you’re welding steel together, all the lines need to meet and be attached to one another. With the luminaria, the lines can’t meet or the whole piece is cut out and falls apart. Working in both styles allows me to explore more deeply the relationship of positive and negative space. Also, because even the most intricate designs must be drawn quickly to avoid burning up the entire can, I’ve become much more comfortable with drawing as a result of doing the luminaries.

Also, using recycled and/or reused materials in my work is really important to me. The problem with making stuff is that you’re making stuff. I feel that if I am going to fill the world with more things, then it is my responsibility to minimize my environmental impact. Most everything I make incorporates some percentage of recycled content. I also design for permanence and try to use the most ecologically sustainable paints, coats, etc. The CANterns are a great way to reuse material with minimal impact to the environment.

Lastly, whenever I’ve tried to stop making them, suddenly I get deluged with requests for more… heh. So I think I’ve kind of let the cat out of the bag. Me and the cans are stuck with each other.

Why do people love these?

  • 100% recycled content.
  • Hand made, signed by the artist.
  • Holes in the base allow water to drain.
  • Safe for use indoors or out.
  • Provide a great way to mark paths at night.
  • When lit, the luminaries project cool flickering images.

Are the edges sharp?

No. The process of cutting CANterns with the torch beads up the metal along the edge of the cuts, so the edges are pretty rounded. All the same, you should exercise caution when reaching inside to light candles. Sometimes there’s a little tear in the rim from the can opener used to open the can. I try to catch all these, but I wouldn’t want anyone getting scratched.

Are re-used cans sanitary?

Yes. I only use cans that have been cleaned before salvage. The cans are heated to about 2500°F when cut. After cutting, the cans are washed again to remove any ash or paint residue and then painted inside and out.

Can I leave my CANterns outdoors indefinitely?

All CANterns are painted with clear enamel and should last several years outdoors without needing to be repainted. If they do need to be retouched, your local hardware store should carry a clear spray enamel.