How to Use Food Cans for Sculptures

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Inspiration for a sculpture may come from the contents of the can.
Inspiration for a sculpture may come from the contents of the can. (Image: canned fish image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)

Stack cans of food into creative sculptures structures that appear to be made only from the canned goods themselves. Stacking canned food into sculptures structures is a retail display and competition art that has a large following around the world held and organized by the organization Canstruction, Inc. Can stacking, also called Canstruction®, requires careful planning and assembly to build safe structures that stay together. Impress shoppers in an exhibition market or judges at a the Canstruction® competition by designing and constructing a stable and artistic Canstucture. A Canstruction® Competition or exhibit may not be held without the express permission of Canstruction, Inc. For more details please visit www.canstruction.org.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Spirit/bubble level
  • 1/4-inch foam board (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Clear packing tape (optional)

Draw a canned foods sculpture structure concept that includes estimated dimension and ideas for can choices. Design a base sufficiently thick to ensure the stability of the overall structure. The size of the sculpture structure must be within the dimensions of the space you are displaying and/or the rules of the Canstruction® competition.

Take height and width measurements of canned food varieties you are considering for use in the sculpture and write them down with the corresponding product name.

Divide the approximate dimensions of the sculpture structure by the measurements from the proposed cans to calculate how many you will need to complete the design.

Redraw the design using the selected cans in the calculated number to get a basic blueprint of the sculpture.

Check—using a spirit level—the floor or any hard surface on which you plan to build the can structure to ensure it is completely level.

Cut small discs from foam core board and tape them into the space below the rim of a sealed can to make it flush across the top and more stable. Choose a dark color of foam core board that will hide in the sculpture structure. Check the rules of the can-stacking Canstruction® competition first, however, to make sure additional construction materials can be used.

Follow the design guide to start stacking the sturdy bottom three rows of cans from the floor up. Make adjustments to the design concept as needed so that the base of the sculpture is stable and well-supported.

Spin the labels of the cans as you continue to stack so they all face the same way or show the colors you intend.

Test the finished sculpture with the level and by gently pushing on a few cans to see if the structure is steady or needs more supporting cans.

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