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Folk Art Amigo Sign

Kenny Chavez decorates his folk art amigo sign with flowers made from rusted tin can lids and rusted bottle caps.

Materials and Tools:

4, 2' x 5-1/2" boards
rusted horseshoe
4 medium size rusted cans - cleaned and cut open with the tops and bottoms removed
tin metal sheeting
swimming pool siding
2, 4" blue bottles
4, 2" mini recycled bottles
4 rusted coffee can lids
2 rusted can lids
4 yards of bailing wire
5 cupboard hooks
4 rusted bottle caps
rusted box of mini nails
4 heavy nails--2 for the hanger and 2 for the horseshoe
8 screws
8 washers
8 nuts
4 clamps
latex paint
hammer, needle nose pliers, power drill/screwdriver, tin snips, scissors


1. Cut four 2' x 5-1/2" wide boards. Sand the cut edges smooth. Paint the boards with latex paint. Let dry.

2. Place the boards in an open square frame structure with a hole in the center. Place the top and bottom boards on top of the left and right boards to form a 24-inch square.

3. Remove the top board and nail the horseshoe, open end up and centered on the top board, with heavy 1-inch nails on both sides of the horseshoe.

4. Cut a 4-inch piece of bailing wire to make a hanger for the folk art sign. Pinch it in the center to form the letter "V" and curl each end into a small tight circle with pliers. Nail the hanger to the back of the top board.

5. Replace the top board onto the open square and clamp all the boards together.

6. To secure the boards together:

  • Measure and mark two holes 1-inch apart--3-inches in from the top, sides and bottom corners.
  • Drill two holes in each corner and place screws into both thicknesses of boards.
  • Turn the piece around and secure the back end of the screws with appropriate washers and nuts. Tighten securely.

7. Place a rusted coffee tin lid on each of the four corners of the square and secure with two nails per lid.

8. Rusted Daisies:

  • Cut four 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" tin squares from the sides of rusted cans.
  • Cut these into circles, then shape into flower petals with scissors.
  • Bend the petals up to add dimension.
  • Nail one flower onto each coffee can lid.
  • Nail one bottle cap onto the center of each daisy.

9. Amigos Letters:

  • Cut five 3-1/2" x 2" tin squares.
  • Cut capital letters from the tin squares spelling "A, M, G, O, S".
  • The letter "I" is cut from a 3-1/2" x 1" tin piece.
  • Center the letters on the bottom board between the two coffee can lids and nail them into place.
  • Cut six 7-inch bailing wire strips and curl the ends in opposite directions in a S-shape.
  • Nail an S-shaped wire onto each letter.

10. Wrapping Blue Bottles:

  • Cut two 3-foot long bailing wire strips—one wire per bottle.
  • With pliers pinch the end of the wire and bend it inward tightly with two twists.
  • Measure down an inch on the wire and make a tight letter S on the wire. Pinch it closed.
  • Twist the wire around the neck of the bottle then the body of the bottle, down to the bottom.
  • Bend the wire underneath the bottle and down an inch.
  • Bend another S in the wire and pinch tightly.
  • Measure 2-1/2-inches and cut excess wire and curl in the leftover wire.
  • Repeat for the second bottle.
  • Nail the S-shaped wire sections to the boards on the top and bottom of the bottle.

11. Cut four 17-inch bailing wire strips. Curl each piece into an S-shape. Place one on each side of the blue bottle facing inward toward each other. Nail them into place.

12. Cut seven smaller daisies out of colored swimming pool siding.

  • Round the petal shapes with scissors.
  • Cut 1" x 1" squares from rusted tin and place the small squares on top of the flowers.
  • Cut four leaf shapes from rusted tin and nail the rusted leaves inside the horseshoe.
  • Nail one of the colored flowers on top of the rusted leaves.
  • Nail a 1-inch square on top of the colored flower inside the horseshoe.

13. Colorful (swimming pool siding) Daisy Placement:

  • Nail colorful daisies above and below the blue bottles.
  • Form S-shapes with 10-inch wire strips by holding the wire in the center with pliers and bending the wire into an S-shape.
  • Attach two S-shape wire accents on both sides of the horseshoe and nail colorful daisies on top of the S-shaped wires.

14. Cut two large can lids in half for a total of four halves. With pliers bend the cut edge in 3 cm along the length of the can lids. Place each half circle of tin at the outer center of each board (4 center sections). With the ledge facing inward toward the back of the sign, nail the ledge flush with the wood panel edges.

15. Cut four 1-1/2-foot wide strips of wire. Bend the wire from its center point into an S-shape with pliers, bend and sculpt the wire into swirling accents. Nail one wire at the S-shape holes into the board at the center back side of each tin half circle.

16. Decorate the half-circle tin on the bottom of the frame with hanging tin tassels.

  • Puncture five nail holes into the tin lid starting at the center's edge.
  • Cut five 1-inch wire strips and bend them into S-shapes, leaving the ends open.
  • Cut five tin tassels out of tin sheeting. The tassels may be teardrop- pear- or chandelier-shaped.
  • Puncture a nail hole into the thinner part of the tassels and pinch the hook closed with pliers.
  • Slip the other end of the S hook into the half circle tin lid. Pinch it closed.

17. Center and separate five cupboard hooks for hanging the bottles and the heart. Screw the hooks into the bottom edge of the top wood board. Cut a 4" x 4" tin heart out of tin metal sheeting. Nail a hole in the center of the heart. Cut 25 1-inch wire strips. Bend all into S-shapes. Connect five at a time into five link chains. Set aside.

18. Cut four 1-1/2-foot wire strips to wrap the mini-bottles. With pliers pinch the end into a spiral circle to hang at the end of the chain link. Wrap the wire around the body of the bottle three or four times making smaller circles under the bottle to secure it. Leave 1-inch of wire at the end. Cut the excess wire. Bend in the tip. Hang the bottles and heart from the chain links of your folk art amigo sign.

Folk Art Amigo Sign by Kenny Chavez from Albuquerque, N.M.

Kenny Chavez was born in Southern California, but raised by his mother in New Mexico. He considers himself both a New Mexican and an artist at heart. Having worked in the field of art for some time collecting and selling other peoples' work, he eventually got the itch to begin creating his own pieces. He combined his Mexican heritage along with his passion for recycling and the results were his Folk Art Retablos or signs.


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