Like Color Blindness, Only Lots More Smelly: A True and Trashy Tale of PackRat-itis

My partner Sara says I’m sick.

She insists, as I’ve suggested before, that my condition is chronic, if not terminal—not for the ailing me, in this instance, but for those closest to my afflicted self—Sara, to be specific.  Clearly, it’s a sad situation for all involved—for me because I’m sick—for Sara since she’s the one my ailment might, in fact, ax.

So what exactly is this illness, you might ask.

To be honest, Sara says it goes by several names, but she calls it “hoarding”—claims I can’t recognize garbage when I see it.  I suppose you could consider it a form of rubbish blindness—like color blindness, only lots more smelly.  I may recognize colors when they clash, but with trash it’s another matter all together.

In the past several days, however, I have, I believe, proven the trash-savvy Sara wrong—


You see, we’re preparing for an event called the Bizarre Bazaar—to be held in downtown Lexington at 3rd Street Stuff.   This opportunity, scheduled for September 22nd from 8-5 pm, offers local artists free table space for a day’s worth  of art-smart, product peddling.

So, being the rubbish blind person that I am, I decided to make Christmas tree ornaments out of empty cat food cans—an idea Sara said wouldn’t work.  I insisted otherwise, since the empty containers create a shadow box of sorts—a perfect frame for assemblage in miniature.   Plus, it’s a green gift-giving idea.

I  hope you will take a look at what I’ve made and see if you, too, suspect I suffer from rubbish blindness or am, in fact, the truly trash-savvy member of this Sara-Kathy partnership.

What you will need:

Cat food cans (tuna cans)            
Spray paint
Duct tape (I used checker board.)
Color/patterned paper
Recycled lids
Hammer and nail
Glue gun
Glue stick
Exacto knife (optional)
Ruler (optional)
Circle paper punch, 1- 1.25 inches (optional)
Hole punch (optional)
Rubber stamps (optional)
Jump rings for jewelry making (optional)
Needle nose pliers (optional)

Step 1–Inside of Can

In each ornament I’ve completed  so far, I’ve assembled layers of paper, text, and up-cycled lids inside an empty can. whose inside has been spray painted in a complimentary color.

Paper shapes can be cut with scissors, Exacto, or paper punch, while any text you might like to add can be hand-written, computer-generated, cut from a magazine, or rubber stamped.  I also suggest experimenting with various sizes and kinds of lids, which are hot-glued in place and used to lift text up off the bottom of the can.

Step 2–Outside of Can

Around the outside of the can, I’ve applied checker-board Duct tape and ribbon to create the illusion of depth on an otherwise flat (though curved) surface.

I used an Exacto knife to cut the Duct tape to the width I wanted and applied glue to the back sides of ribbon.  Here again, experiment with materials, play, have fun.

Step 3–Top of Can

At the designated top of my circular shadow box, I’ve  created two holes using a nail and hammer, holes I can thread ribbon through.   I tied bows at the tops of ribbons, which will be used to attach ornaments to Christmas trees.

I’ve then covered the site with circular pieces of paper, in which I’ve punched two holes.  The holes allow you to, again, thread ribbon through.

This  step gives the product a finished look but is, in all honesty, optional.  In some, ornaments I used jewelry-making jump rings to attach my top ribbons to cans.  I also experimented with variously sized circles and even layered some.  Be creative.

Step 4–Back of Can (optional)

To the back of the can, I’ve applied my personal logo with a simple glue stick.

Gallery of Options

Below are a few more examples of my creations to date.


Sara may be eating crow when it comes to these cans, but I may be the one who has wrongly trashed my partner’s reputation—especially since, as she reminded me, she’s the one to have actually seen the sign advertizing the Bizarre Bazaar event and encouraged me to participate.  Without her I may not have had the opportunity to can Christmas, so to speak, in the first place.

Regardless of who is truly consuming crow in this situation, two facts remain:  Sara encouraged this particular Kat(hy) to act and I actually upcycled a potential product.

So though we’re still in the throes of summer here in the northern hemisphere, I’ll wish you a meowy Christmas anyhow, hoping you, too, will make these purr-fect  Christmas ornaments.  Happy canning, my friends.

I’m off to cook my crow.

In all honesty, who is more often right in your relationship, your partner or you?  When’s the last time you ate crow?

81 thoughts on “Like Color Blindness, Only Lots More Smelly: A True and Trashy Tale of PackRat-itis

  1. As I’ve told you before, I love these posts of yours. You could generate more and collect them into a book of ideas. I’m going to try to tweet this, but I am in Puerto Rico with only my iPad and things are not working out as smoothly with the web. I’ll give it a go.

    Have a good time at the bizarre bazaar.


    • Wow, love the idea about collecting these kinds of posts into a book. I just sometimes feel like I’m cheating when I do posts like this that rely less heavily on writing. Glad to hear some folks might enjoy even more. And thanks so much for trying to tweet this! Hope you are enjoying your vacation.


  2. I think it depends on the day. Most recently, I jumped Scott’s case about something and wound up being so veryvery wrong. Sam takes these tiny pills. He takes half a pill three times a day. Ugh. And by tiny I mean ‘smaller than baby aspirin used to be’. Bitsy. So we have to split the things. Scott usually does this. But I am typically the one giving Sam his meds. And every morning, I was fishing slivers of pill out of the pill caddy to add up to an entire half. SO I finally asked Scott why. He said, “Well, we have so much of this, I’m just using the pill splitter to shave one down until I have half a pill.” Of course, I was all mad. I said, “Just split a pill. The point is that he gets one and a half a day, so what if he gets 1/4. +3/4 + 1/2????


    Fast forward a week, and I’m coincidentally splitting the pills. (Scott’s famous for the ‘yes dear’ answer – we just ran out and I had to split more). And the bloody pill splitter can’t cut one of these tiny things in half .Can Not do it. the pill shreds every time. So the only thing to do is kind of hack away until you have half left.

    So I owed Scott a huge apology, BUT, and this is key, rather than just keep doing the thing that wasn’t working, I took the pills out of the shredder and split them with a steak knife, no pill splitter needed, no shredding happening.


    • Oh, I am, unfortunately, familiar with the failures inherent in pill-splitter technology. Surely, SOMEONE could imporve it. I swear to God, even I could manage that! But somehow the notion of shaving doww a pill to get half is so ridiculous, I can’t even imagine it–so ridiculous it makes me laugh. My question would be, “What prevented Scott from pulling out the butcher knife?” Right?


  3. Love these! What a great idea! You could do so many other things with them as well. I’m thinking “do not disturb” signs for doorknobs, “clean/dirty” for the dishwasher, name tags for kids hooks in mud room area… lots and lots of uses for this one!

    Hmmm… as far as who eats more crow I guess I’d have to say the Boss. But in all honesty, I think that’s only because I tend to serve it to him on an “I told you so!” platter when I’m right. He tends to be a little more subtle and just gives me the “See…?” face.

    Great idea about the book as well! I’m thinking craft book sell like hotcakes!


    • OMG, Wendy, you have GREAT ideas! Wish the Boss were working closer to Kentucky, so we could undertake some of these projects together–like you don’t have enough to do already! LOL Let me know if you think of any other uses! Please!


  4. I am truly not a crafty person, but I still have the Christmas Tree I made in Girl Scouts using tuna cans, cutting out the bottoms with a can opener, wrapping them with green yarn and filling them with miniature ornaments, one for each can in the tree. /Users/lisabesnett/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Previews/2011/Dec 25, 2011/100_3395.JPG


  5. I’m with CM Smith – Kathy, you need to make a photo book of your creative ideas so that “hoarders” have wonderful ideas to do with their “stuff,” or as bikebrown said, “a great way to recycle.”

    Like Sara, I’m an avid “thrower.” Give me lots and lots of nothing and I’m happy as a clam!

    Like you, Len’s an avid “keeper” (I just wish he was as clever with his “stuff” as you are with yours)!


    • Yes, I love the notion of a craft book meant to reform hoarders! That would be a fun twist. Perhaps, you can persuade Len to try ornament-making. Oh, or maybe not. That might inspire him to start collecting cans! Oops–sorry, Laurie! LOL


  6. There’s no way I’m sharing that idea with him! Len ties flies (for fly fishing). Do you have any idea what it’s like living with a man who collects snippets of fur and fuzz because “it looks just like ‘thus and such’ insect” — it’s utterly mind bogging to me!


  7. So colorful and pretty, Kathy. I live how you can look at trash and see its potential for trash. But I’m afraid I’d tend to agree with Sara about the hoarding thing. And the smelly thing. I don’t have cat food cans, but I do have dog food cans and I know how smelly they can be. Yikes.


    • Seriously, Monica, they don’t smell at all! Sara would not stand for that, and, frankly, neither could I. You’d be surprised how a thorough washing removes the odor. But, yes, they smell horrid before! Have a great day, my friend!


  8. I’m impressed at your creativity and motivation to make Sara WRONG. Question how many cat cans had you saved or did you gather more cans for the project? I like Sara have always been clutter free or a minimalist.
    On another topic, I want to share that I was freshly pressed on Word Press!


    • OMG! When were you FP? Congratulations! I am SO, SO happy for you! I was FP twice, and it was loads of fun. A little overwhelming to respond to so many comments but fun, nonetheless! Hope you will come back and leave the link!
      Hooray for Claudia! Yippee!


      • Kathy,
        I’m assuming your comment is an invitation for me to leave the link to my freshly pressed post for you to view, please delete if that is not the case. It is very exciting since I’ve only posted 40, less than a year. “Am I Politically Stupid?” is political but intended to be more humorous than a statement, I’m unprepared for the discussion.


      • Absolutely, I would was totally asking you to leave the link. I went ahead and found it this morning, but other readers here might want to check it out. I know what you mean about just wanting to be funny and then having commenters get on their political soap boxes about it.


  9. Hi Kathy! I always love your art posts. Your color combinations are so eye-catching! I’m a huge fan of bright colors and of art that’s made from re-purposed materials. Perhaps you’ve mentioned it in a prior post, but do you have an Etsy site?
    PS- Sara is wrong on this one!


    • Don’t have an Etsy site, as of yet, but that is likely to come. We are trying to come up with a name we could ultimately incorporate–or whatever it is one does with that stuff. I will let you know when I get one–for sure! Glad you like these. Love your enthusiasm, Sprinkles!


  10. I think you are so creative! I could look at all of those items and never think to put them together in that way. It’s probably second nature to you, but I absolutely marvel at it.

    Good luck at the Bizarre Bazaar! What a great idea that Sprinkles had for you to start an Etsy site.

    (Psst: this part is for Sara. I understand how you feel about clutter! I’d be overwhelmed by all the extra bits and pieces lying around.)


    • Oh, Jackie, I will pass your message along to Sara. I’m sure she will appreciate the empathy. But you’re right. It does come kind of naturally to me. I have NO idea why or how. Great to hear from you, my friend!


  11. Okay, Sista. I have a few things to say here.
    1. May you bring in some serious cashola from your efforts. The ornaments are beautiful!
    2. As a fellow pack rat, I feel ya, Sista! I am trying so hard to minimize my pack, but this rat has a hard time saying goodbye.
    3. Etsy: YOU MUST DO THIS!
    4. PUBLISH THIS SOMEWHERE!! If you need help finding a mag that may publish these kinds of articles, I am willing to offer you my research skills free of charge (except maybe mention me when you’re famous). 😉


  12. I think this is a WONDERFUL way to reuse cat food cans!! The result is so pretty, no one would ever guess what they started out as! I agree with Miranda, selling these on Etsy would be a great project!

    Regarding the question of who is typically right… well… no matter how badly I want to say that it’s me….. it’s usually my husband (darnit)…..


    • So happy you like the idea, Holly! I figure you gotta go something with all those empty cans, right? Sorry to hear your husband is ususally right. My Sara is, as well, or at least she thinks so. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm


  13. My husband is nearly always right technically, but I am right in every other way (whatever that means). I love your cans but I have to say, I cannot imagine the time, effort and artistry that goes into each one, and how you will ever price them so you won’t be literally eating crow! Beautiful inspiring work, Kathy — where do you find time to WRITE?? xooxoxo b


    • OMG–love the comment about literally eating crow. I don’t know how I will price these things. I’m going to have to come up with 8 or 10 designs I like and then get a kind of assembly line going. Then I think I’ll be able to move more quickly, or at least I hope so. I don’t know how I find time to write. These days, I suppose, I don’t find enough.


  14. Now I feel even more defective since I’m hugely allergic to the kitties. My regular diet in my whatever-I’ve-got-going-kinda/sorta-relationship is crow and foot with some fava beans and a nice chianti.


  15. I think they’re purrrrrrfect!

    HA! Geez, I didn’t have time to read all of the comments! I hope no one else said that!

    I love your creativity and I think you and Sarah work purrfectly together.



    • Ha, ha! No, I don’t think anyone said that. Did you know that ornament you gave us, got me thinking about making some? Plus, Sara wants to get out the saw and try some wooden ones, specifically. Pretty cool, eh? So thanks for the inpiration, my friend.


  16. If you were a true hoarder you would have mounds of rotten, smelly trash piled up in every room of your house. You, my friend, have actual, honest to goodness ART instead. If that’s a sickness, may you never heal! 😉


    • How great to hear from you and learn that you, too, like to comb the trash for teasure.

      Funny thing–I was literally just recommending your blog to my friend Wendy at “Finally Wendy Wanders,” as she is looking for a kind of widget that will keep track of her miles walked each day, and I told her, if anyone would know of one, it would be you.

      Hope you are feeling better, my friend.


  17. I am always right. He’s not allowed to be right. Unless I say so. 😉

    I love your cat food can ornaments! I was skeptical when you first began to describe your project, but I should have known better! You can turn any “trash” into “treasure.”

    My sister was making Christmas crafts the other day. I reminded her it’s AUGUST! She said, “Yep. I’m listening to Bing Crosby too.”


  18. Did you write a similar post before, Kathy, or did I dream it? lol…I remember thinking you had hoarding similarities similar to my dad–which kinda explains my barebones simplicity (except in the case of words.) Barry and I are right and wrong about equally. I could be right or wrong about that assertion! Hope you are having a lovely weekend making lots of crafts or just sittin’ and relaxin’.


    • Actually, I’ve written a lot about hoarding, but I don’t think I’ve done a post quite like this. Howwever, I have used that line about hoarding being a sickness before. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend, as well, my friend.


  19. Can Christmas… LOL!! I love the way you play with words. I also love the way you play with rubbish and turn it into art. I think you and my husband would get along well because he collects things that I think should be trashed with dreams of turning them into art. I’ve never known him to not do something he plans to do, even if it takes him years, so I expect someday he will be a famous artist. Or we’ll have a nice collection of trash turned art of our own. Either way, it’s a win-win. 🙂

    As for who in our relationship is more often right, we’ll be celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary tomorrow and my answer is that we must both be right at least half the time or we wouldn’t have made it this far. 😉


  20. I don’t think you’re a hoarder, Kathryn. I think you just see the possibility of creation in everything around you . . . and how wonderful is that? Of course I don’t have to live with you and your accumulations either! ha ha! Great posting, super cool pics and creations. Love to you and Sara! xoxo


    • Oh, no, wait till I tell Sara what you said. You’re gonna be in trouble, girl friend. LOL No, seriously, I don’t think I’m a hoarder, and I suspect if Sara were being really, really honest, she’d admit the same. Except that that’s not as fun for her as mocking me and my collections. LOL


  21. Gorgeous ornaments, Kathy! You are way ahead of your time, both in a creative, visionary sense and in the sense that you’ve prepared Christmas ornaments during the summer months. 🙂 I hope the Bazaar went well!


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