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Jeff Fusco

Tinware was everywhere in colonial America. Tinsmiths made objects from imported tinplate that could be shaped and even punched to create a variety of useful and decorative objects. People used tin because it was relatively cheap (unlike silver, for example), light weight, and easily crafted into curved sides and faceted and punched decorative designs. In colonial lanterns, holes were plentiful enough to allow light out but small enough to shield the flame from the wind. 

You can now make our own punched tin at home using aluminum foil, cardboard, and a simple pattern.

Tin Punch Activity

Materials Needed

  • One piece of cardboard
  • Aluminum foil, just large enough to cover the cardboard
  • Tape
  • Template (download our pattern or create your own using graph paper)
  • Ballpoint pen, toothpick, or something to pierce your paper and the foil 


  1. Wrap the foil matte side up, around the cardboard, and tape it in place.
  2. Lay your pattern over the foil and tape it in place.
  3. Using your pen, toothpick or other item, follow the pattern to punch holes deep enough to pierce the paper and the foil, but not too deep to go through the cardboard.
  4. Carefully remove the pattern from the foil.
  5. Remove your foil from the cardboard.
  6. To display your punched tin, attach it to a window that gets a lot of sun, or wrap it around the outside of a glass candle holder and watch the light shine out. 

The punched tin craft was originally released as part of the Museum's Virtual Spring Break programming, sponsored by PECO, which ran online in April 2020, featuring do-at-home crafts and activities, virtual story time, Artisan Field Trip living history interviews, and live Q&As with Museum staff.

Share your completed lantern with us @amrevmuseum on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram  and follow for daily content and updates.

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