Apr 4, 2012

Old Milk Can

My husband recently inherited this old milk can and gave it to me. Thanks hon!

It needs some work, and it's been sitting on the back deck for a couple weeks while I ponder the possibilities for restoring it.  

 All kinds of things have been running around inside my head.  I've even considered painting it (and it's little red water pump friend up there) like a psychedelic bus. 


 That idea's leftover from my crazy hippie chick days. I was thinking they'd look cheerful and whimsical sitting in a corner of the back yard with my wind chimes. But mostly I thought it would be fun to paint like a kid again. 

Or I was thinking I could spray paint the milk can gray, like it probably was at one time (and like I really wish someone had left it.)

The one thing I didn't really consider was stripping the paint off because, c'mon, that would be a crazy hard job, right?

So there it sat on my deck. 

Then today, I was taking my regular daily spin around my favorite blogs and serendipitously came across this gorgeous milk can at Blissfully Content. (Don't you love it when that happens? I mean, how often do you find a milk can just sitting around?!)

Blissfully Content

Is that not gorgeous in all its rusty and rich patina'd glory? I love it!

So now I'm thinking, even though it won't look this good, maybe I should strip the paint off of my milk can. 

Do you have an opinion about what I should do, or advice about how to strip the paint from something like this? If so, I'd love to hear it. I'd hate to go to the expense of buying the chemicals and doing all that work if it won't work or is just a dumb idea.  Also, maybe this is one of those times when an antique shouldn't be restored at all, like on Antiques Roadshow when the guy says, "Well, Ma'am, this milk can would have been worth $50,000 if you had left the original black paint on it, but  in its present condition it's worth about $2.50." 

I'd love some ideas and advice. Would you strip it, paint it, decoupage book pages on it? 

 I had been thinking I'd keep it outside, but after seeing the photo above, I think it would look great inside as a table or just sittin' around. 

So, here's what I'm working with.

Any ideas, friends and followers? 

{Note: To see what I ended up doing, go here.}


  1. O dear I see the problem. I am luck enough to have one in its natural rusty state. What about painting it a gray white with lots of chips to show the colours underneath?

  2. My mother has one, (unpainted) she has always kept her wool and knitting needles in it.
    Kristy @ 4 the love of WOOD

  3. I have the same black milk can - do you think it's worth $50,000? Better get it inside out of the elements right away!

    I also have a small milk can in it's original metal that I love.

    Seems like SO much work to strip that can. Your can and my radiator covers should get together!

  4. When I was growing up and mod podge was new, neighborhood mothers delighted in decoupaging bonnet babies and ducks onto old milk cans.

    Now that I am living in an old farm house I remembered those days and went out to look for a milk can - not antique store priced. It took a while but I found one - painted bright red and with a Bonnet Baby already mod podged on.
    A week later I found another in its natural state, with a dairy name plate attached.
    I couldn't bring myself to cover that up.

    The next summer I swear I could not go to a block sale without finding old milk cans! Having one, or two, attracts others. Fair warning!

  5. So great to run across this post, I acquired an old milk can last weekend at a yard sale...and no it's not in it's original state either. Mine has a scene of a farm and animals all around the body. I keep looking at it to figure out what to do, since I really really want a natural milk can. But it's the first I've found and figured I'd better get while the gettin's good!
    Let me know what you end up doing (and I'll let you know too!), I'm in the same dilema!
    Debbie :)

  6. Since it is a family item, perhaps pay for sandblasting?

  7. The milk can AND the pump are both wonderful! I would love for my hubby to inherit one like that. If he did and it were painted, I would stip it and leave it outside to rust. ;)

    Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage

  8. My friend has four of these that would need sandblasting before they could be painted. My idea is to paint country scenes on them as a housewarming gift that they can set out on their porch that goes all the way around their house.

  9. Four years later - what did you do?? I just inherited one painted black with a farming bumper sticker on it. Trying to figure out my options.

    1. Hi Shawn, check out my milk can here: http://www.thenorthendloft.com/2012/07/old-painted-milk-can.html


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