Decorating an altoids tin

I’ve got an altoids tin that I’m using as a case for my iPod Shuffle. It works pretty well — I cut the original packaging up to make a little plastic bit that holds the shuffle itself against the lid, and then the little quick-reference card and the headphones fit in the bottom part. So far so good.

The problem: it still looks like a scratched-up Altoids case.

So I want to decorate it somehow, either just the lid or the whole thing, but I dunno what to do to it. Painting is probably the easiest, but I don’t know where to start. I could do a shiny and tough automotive finish but it’d mean buying cans of primer, paint and clearcoat for one Altoids tin. Craft-style paints probably wouldn’t hold up to sharing a pocket with keys, but there’s probably something clear I can spray on to protect it; I just don’t know what. Paper stickers would get dirty and worn; vinyl ones would work but I’d need to find ’em. There’s probably other options but I dunno from crafty stuff at all.

What should I do to it?

14 responses to “Decorating an altoids tin”

  1. You can probably get some craft enamel at a craft store that would work, and stand up to being pocketed.

    Or, you could decoupage it.


  2. Découpage, with several layers of varnish.

    I friend turned a tin into a hum-hum box for me years ago. It handled pocketing easily. Then it was stolen.

  3. Great idea! I have a ton of altoids tins I can’t bear to part with, because they might be useful. I’ll have to try it sometime!

  4. Automotive Touch-up paint?

    Won’t be as good as the real thing but for small areas (and I think an Altoid tin qualifies) it seems ok.

    For extra points my body shop friend recommended me drying it with a heat gun rather than air drying.

  5. You could always try removing the paint entirely and using fine steel wool to give it a brushed metal look. This is, after all, an Apple product. 8^)

    The best part of this idea is that if you find you don’t like, it’s ready to be painted.

  6. use some mod podge and collage it with stickers or pretty japanese paper or newspaper clippings. then if you’re worried about the finish (though mod podge finishes pretty well and durably) you could always put clear laminate over it. dunno about up there but in the us you can get that in grocery stores for lining kitchen drawes and stuff. or seal it with resin or even wood sealer!

  7. I’ve been trying to find an idea like this for months. This is freaking smart. I love it!