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Tole Baskets

Painted tinware, known as tole, was a popular material for household wares in Colonial times. Today, an antique tole wastebasket can cost hundreds of dollars -- but with tin or galvanized-aluminum buckets and sign painter's enamel, you can make contemporary versions that are just as charming.




  1. Step 1

    Paint a 3-inch-wide yellow stripe around the top outside edge of the bucket. Let dry. Evenly space 1-inch round adhesive stickers along the stripe. Coat the bucket with brick-red paint, taking care not to brush under the stickers. When the paint dries, pull the stickers off to reveal the yellow dots.

  2. Step 2

    Paint the bucket off-white. With a utility knife, trim strips of drafting tape to form triangular points. Place strips of the trimmed tape pointy side down around the bucket, overlapping them slightly. Paint the uncovered surfaces blue. Let dry; remove tape.

  3. Step 3


    Paint the bucket rust red. Wrap a band of 1/2-inch-wide electrical tape around it, two-thirds of the way down. Paint the top of the bucket (down to the tape) yellow. Let dry; remove tape. Just above and just below the line where the colors meet, wrap two more bands of tape. Paint the gap beige. Let dry; peel off tape.

Martha Stewart Living, October 1995



Reviews (22)

  • younggrama 6 Jan, 2009

    To Tangle--what a great idea for garden art!! Sounds cute and way to recycle!

  • danik3178 26 Nov, 2008

    what if I want to decorate the tin, but not paint...what else can i use, where do i get it, how do i use it? i'm new at all this, but want to learn!!!

  • lbuser 7 Apr, 2008

    Sign painters paint (buy online) is used to paint pin stripes on automobiles buy different artists. It is oil based and holds up very well to weather.

  • CraftTestDummies 7 Apr, 2008

    You can avoid the whole paint issue by covering your little buckets with fabric! Use a mod-podge like product and then cover it with 2-3 layers of varnish. I'm also going to hot-glue some fun fringe and rick-rack, and use them on my covered porch. Jenny at

  • Jacquie1 7 Apr, 2008

    Soap molds and plaster of paris work great for making glue on flowers.

  • jcampise08 7 Apr, 2008

    I am a fairly new crafter but love this idea. I would like to add flowers attached by gromlets. Does anyone have ideas for me as to the type of material to make the flowers out of? I want this to be outside on my porch.

  • maryfranson 6 Apr, 2008

    frannikenna - you need to click on the link that says See more comments :-)

  • janewoolley 6 Apr, 2008

    Folk Art makes a great line of craft paints in various types, such as enamel and outside paints, as well as basic acrylics. I buy them in my area at AC Moore. I'm sure they're available online, as well.

  • xack1 6 Apr, 2008

    scroll down to below the third comment and click on see more comments.

  • frannikenna 6 Apr, 2008

    on the top it says 6 comments, I only see 3, I love these comments as I learn so much from them

  • artistic_lifestyling 6 Apr, 2008

    Canvas makes a designer paint that adheres to any type of surface. You can find it at or through

  • sillycat31 6 Apr, 2008

    If you spray it with a grey primer (rustoleum) you can paint over it with any colors you chose and it will cover, but you do need to varnish it to keep the colors from chipping off evenutally

  • dalahasen54 6 Apr, 2008

    Painting with water base paint does not come off when in contact with water, after it's dry. There is a whole lot more to doing this project they aren't telling you. Base coat with rustoleum first, let dry. Paint again with base coat of an acrylic in a neutral color, let dry 30-minutes. Draw on your design of flowers, or use stencils . Let design dry again 30 min. use brush on water base varnish at craft store or lowes or walmart. go by varnish directions Shirley in TN.

  • dalahasen54 6 Apr, 2008

    Tole painted metal buckets
    Craft store have acrylics paint that is water base (Michaels) If they are for outside I get spray rustoleum and that is a great base paint anyway to start with. I've Tole painted for years. The Acrylics come in a great number of colors too. Shirley Eckstrom

  • wendysearswms 6 Apr, 2008

    Don't you have to prime the surface first?

  • Sharret42 6 Apr, 2008

    I'm going to try this technique on several metal buckets/containers. It would be very helpful if the enamel paint that is used would have been listed in the instructions. The intro only mentioned "enamel" -- not everyone would realize you would use enamel paint that you can buy in craft stores or such stores as Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. (Anna Marie, it is not water-based; enamel paint won't wash off when it comes into contact with water.) Sharon in Asheville, NC

  • Learner10 6 Apr, 2008

    To Kateannie, thank you for sharing the information about the paint and where to find the tin items. Frustrating to want to make the featured item, but not know where to look for the materials.

  • Tangle 6 Apr, 2008

    I'd also like to know where to get the paint. Would regular exterior enamel work? I have a project I'm doing to convert the 3 (yes 3!) satellite dishes the former owner of my house left behind a shed into garden art by painting them with exterior enamel, then using blown up clip art as a template make things such as big sunflowers. I asked the paint dept guy at Lowes

  • KATEANNIE 6 Apr, 2008

    Comment to Anna Marie.....a paint made especially for metal can be found at Michaels Arts and Crafts.


  • KATEANNIE 6 Apr, 2008

    Comment to bellstar....the tin items can be purchased at Michaels Arts and Crafts.


  • bellstar 6 Apr, 2008

    Where can we find tall, thin, galvanized buckets cheaply-- hopefully on-line....??
    Bell Star

  • Anna_Marie 6 Apr, 2008

    Great to know what kind of paint adheres well to metal. Is it water based? At what type of store can you find this paint?