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Skeleton Jewelry

How to Make a Tin Can Skeleton Brooch

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A Recycled Halloween Jewelry Project

Skeleton Brooch

I’ve been making skeleton jewelry to celebrate Halloween this year. I’m not typically a festive themed jewelry type person but I thought what the heck. I bet I could make something a lot better than pumpkin charm earrings.

And how better to celebrate Halloween, global climate change and the recession than to make something that costs practically nothing, recycles eco-friendily, and is seasonal yet not scary enough to frighten my children away? 

I bet you've never made anything like this before.  If you've never challenged yourself to use non-traditional materials before, it's really really fun and a great test of your resourcefulness and creativity. 

I mean, ANYONE can make precious metal and gemstones look good, right? But how many people can make cool stuff out of old coffee cans? I ask you!

So here’s what I came up with. Some tin can jewelry extraordinaire.

I think this skeleton brooch really does have that elusive je ne sais quoi that only repurposed tin cans can truly give you.

Pretty funky, no? I showed it to a friend and she said, "I like it. You have a certain way with weird."

I showed it to my 3 year old, and he laughed with delight. He said , “I wear it now! You put it on me?” I knew he had an eye for quality workmanship.

(Update: 3 years later, I show it to him again and he does the same thing. Boys.)

Skeleton Brooch Instructions

So here’s how to have your own way with weird or at least delight a small boy by making and wearing your own piece of skeleton jewelry.


  • Tin can of your choice
  • Wire (I used 18 gauge annealed steel and 22 gauge tarnished brass)


  • or other metal hole-making tool
  • Needle file and flat file
  • Sharpie or other indelible marker
  • Round nose pliers
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Flat nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Hammer
  • Metal glue like E6000 or similar multi-purpose bonding adhesive

Planning out your Skeleton Jewelry:

It’s always a good idea to draw a sketch of your ideas- even a bunch of them.  This is more of a reminder for myself than for you- I tend to be impulsive and just jump right in.  I don’t even want to think about how much time I could have saved by thinking things through!

How to Make it:

Remember, safety first! Always use eye protection and gloves when snipping metal sheet. (My poor mangled hands wish I remembered the gloves more often).

Step 1: Cut up your tin can using your tin snips so you have a usable piece to use. Your canvas so to speak.

Step2: Using your Sharpie, draw out your skeleton pieces on your piece of tin. Let the marker dry for a minute.

Step 3: Cut out your pieces with your tin snips.

Step 4: Use your metal punch to make holes where you will wire the skeleton together and make hole the exact size of your brad or eyelet on the neck and head portions (where they fit together).

Tip: A drill press makes good holes too. If you are using a drill press, use a center punch or a nail and a hammer to make a dent on the metal before you drill the holes. This will help keep the drill bit from skittering around the surface while you drill.

Step 5: Use your files to file down any rough sharp edges. Run the needle file around the inside of the holes to de-burr them. I like to rough up the metal a bit too for a distressed look.

Step 6: Use your wire to attach the skeleton parts together. Use the finished picture as a guide.

Step 7: Insert a brad or eyelet into the remaining neck and head holes. Now secure it using the eyelet setter and a hammer or mallet.

Step 8: Glue a pin back onto the back of your skeleton.

Check it out! You now have the most artastically unique Halloween accessory on your block – maybe even in your whole gosh-darn neighborhood. Wear your skeleton jewelry proudly!

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