5 Art: Punched Tin


  • 4 Tins for Each Student
  • Paper
  • Very Sharp Pencil
  • Ribbon
  • Foam or cloth


Punched tin probably came to America with the very first settlers. It is thought that the lantern that hung in the Old North Church to announce “One if by land…two if by sea…” was indeed a local farmer’s pierced tin lantern.

Little punched tin boxes with doors holding small tin cups which could be filled with hot coals were placed in pretty wooded frames and taken out to the carriage or sleigh on cold days and then on to church to be refilled for comfort during long services in unheated buildings. There were called foot warmers.

There are fine examples of the art to be found in Central Europe, although piercing designs differ with geography. One beautiful conical punched tin lantern was found in a wine tavern in the Vienna Woods, illuminated to cast a romantic glow in the darkened interior. This lantern, so similar to our Revere type lanterns, differed in that it’s motif was pine boughs instead of the geometric, more common to the designs in the New World.

In America, pie safes and food safes came into use in the days before refrigeration. They were cupboards of various styles and sizes either floor standing or hanging cupboards meant to discourage vermin and insects and to keep dust from perishable foodstuffs. These cabinets had tinplate inserts in the doors and sometimes in the sides, punched out by the homeowner, cabinetmaker or a tinsmith in varying designs to allow for air circulation.


  1. Students shall measure the bottom of their tins on their paper. 
  2. Draw four pictures.  The pictures should be fairly simple.
  3. Cut out the pictures and place them in the tins.
  4. Place the fabric or foam under the tins.
  5. Use the sharp pencil to punch through the paper and the tin.
  6. Make a slightly larger hole to string the ribbon.
  7. Tie the ribbon.  These will make good Christmas ornaments.

Posted in: art

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