Outdoor Tuna Can Lantern

Last week I made a candle chandelier for my deck. It looks so pretty when lit, but the rest of my yard was looking kind of neglected. I was determined to find a way to spread some more candle light around the yard to balance the light and provide more ambiance. I used to have Tiki torches, but they unravel and have to be filled up with oil that makes a mess.  I remember years ago seeing candle lanterns at a wedding that I thought were pretty clever and decided I could try to make them myself, but I needed to find some glass hurricanes.  A trip to the thrift store was in order yesterday.

Usually when I go on my weekly thrift store excursion I run in and do a quick cruise around the store to see if anything pops out at me. Treasure is not always waiting to be found, but you have to go frequently to stumble upon it every now and then.  Yesterday I went on purpose –  I knew my thrift store would have exactly what I was looking for – I had a choice  – lots of glass hurricanes to choose from. I ended up with 3 and a cylinder glass bowl that I plan on using for another project.

Total cost of my glass haul – $2.70.

Thrift-Store-Glassware

Here is what I made with the hurricane. At the end of this post I created a few variations using the other glassware I picked up.

Tuna Can Lantern by In My Own Style blog

It was very quick and easy to make.

How to Make a Tuna Can Lantern

  I used a tuna can, wood screw, copper adapter, and an old paint stick.  If you don’t have an old paint stick, you could use an old broom stick – just cut the broom part off, or even buy a dowel.   The copper adapter was the most expensive part of this project – $3.00, but I like the way it looked. If you want to be really thrifty you could use a soda bottle cap on top of the stick. The adapter or cap adds a nice transition between the can and the stick and provides support.

Candle-Lantern-Supplies-Nee

Using my Craftsman rotary drill that my hubby got me a few years ago for my birthday, I drilled a hole in the top of the paint stick.

Drill-hole-in-paint-stick

Paint-stick-hole

Then I used a awl and hammer to make a hole in the center of the tuna can.

Create-hole-in-tuna-can

Assembly order:  The copper adapter fits over the paint stick perfectly. Take your stick to the plumbing section at the hardware store and try a few different sizes out for the perfect fit. Every stick will be a bit different.

How-it-goes-together

Screw the screw into the stick.

Candle-Lantern-assembled

The top will look like this.

Tuna-can-screwed-on

Place it in the ground.  The lantern is complete – just needs a coat of paint.  Once I removed the hurricane and candle, I sprayed the whole thing right where you see it in the photo – EASY!

Candle-lantern-assembled,-b

I used Rust-Oleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze so the lantern will coordinate with the chandelier I made last week for my deck.

Spray-paint-with-RustOleum-

All Done!  If you have lots of wind – a hurricane such as the one I used will help keep the candles from burning out.

Tuna Can Lantern by In My Own Style blog

If you can’t find a hurricane when you are out thrifting – I also bought a small vase. It looks nice, too.

Tuna Can Lantern variations

Outdoor lighting Tuna can lantern using a small vase

Lots of variation to choose from. A drinking glass works well also.    You may even have an old set of glasses to make a matching set of lanterns to place around your entire yard.

Drinking-glass-tuna can lantern

Now I need to eat more tuna so I can make a few more so my yard will have all- over ambiance at night.

Pink-CircleTo remove dried wax on glass after use – fill glass with ice water. Let set a few minutes and wax will come right off.

Outdoor-Lighting-Make-a-Tuna-Can-Lantern

 
 
 
 


Comments

  1. says

    Dianne – you are just FULL of great ideas! This looks like a super project for my granddaughter and I while she is visiting this summer. She is my “crafty girl” and loves to help make things. Last year we made a gazing ball from a bowling ball so this will be perfect…tuna cans and lamp chimneys into beautiful outdoor lighting!

    • says

      Hi Suzan –
      It will be the perfect project. Some tools, paint, and fun. It took me longer to gather the materials then it did to make it. I hope you have a wonderful time with your granddaughter.

      • says

        Hi Grace – Did someone mention a gazing ball in the comments of my post on the Tuna Can lantern? I am not sure I know what you are asking about.

  2. says

    Diane, That is brilliant!!! It looks like something you would find at a decorating store, not in your cupboard! You truly are brilliant!!!
    Hugs, Cindy

  3. says

    That is so clever! You made it look very high end. I am planning to make hanging lanterns for my tiny patio, but I think I need these (without the posts) to put on the patio railing! So pretty.

  4. says

    Diane, This is a brilliant idea, you are so clever!!! i just showed my husband and his exact words were, “wow that’s genius”.

  5. says

    How absolutely clever! I think I shall make a couple of these for my back patio. I am sure I will have no problem getting my son to eat the tuna!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Tracy

  6. says

    Very nice!

    Stumbled upon this (hehe). Really good directions for something that looks like it would be complicated.

  7. says

    Diane,
    Simple yet sooooo stunning and mega creative!! What a fun and easy project to light up your evenings. Hope you don’t mind if I post the link on my FB Fan page…too good not to share. :)

    Love your ideas and your blog. Your creativity and ingenuity inspire me!

  8. says

    I SO love this! We are having an outdoor party after my son’s wedding reception for neighbors and family and these will be a cheap fix for lighting outside! Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. Patricia in Denver says

    Once again, using the simplest and most available items, you have managed to amaze me.

  10. says

    This is one of the most creative ideas I have seen in a very long time–taking trash and turning into something that looks high end! Love it. Also, I usually read your blog in my email and decided to pop to your site today, WOW, I love it, I haven’t been on it in a very long time and was missing out. Thanks for all of the great ideas.

    • says

      Hi Robin-

      Thanks so much :) I used to do most of my blog reading through Google Reader and always felt I was missing out on seeing the actual blogs. I now use the Google Reader Next button and get to see all of them in full with the click of a button.

  11. says

    Fabulosa essa idéia principalmente para nós que sofremos tanto no verão com ataques de mosquitos! Obrigada por partilhar esse tutorial!
    Abraços, Dolly

  12. says

    Wow, this is just brilliant. I would have never thought of this myself! I definitely need items to help decorate my gardens on the cheap. I cannot wait to put this one into action. Thank you!!

  13. says

    I am loving this….so pretty and yet so simple and inexpensive. Great tips for us.
    I just signed up to follow..come see me when you have time.
    I am over from Beach Cottage.:)
    xo bj

  14. says

    Visiting from your link on Crafterminds- this is great! I am going to put this on our to-do list for our patio area. I guess I need to go buy some tuna, though… ;-)

  15. says

    What a GREAT idea to use something your would normally throw away…LOVE it!!! I would LOVE if you would link up your project to our {{What I Made Wednesday}} Linky Party…going on now! Thanks and I’m your newest follower! :)

    Briana
    sweetpeasandbb.blogspot.com

  16. says

    Diane, you never cease to amaze me with your creativeness. Wow, you own trash to treasure in my book, who would of thought of marrying those items? You are a genius I tell ya! I am going to pin this. Have you gone on Pinterest yet? Dang, it is addicting, gets me behind on my reader though…but oh so fun!

    • says

      Hi Stephanie-

      Thanks. I Do have a Pinterest acct. It is the best thing, EVER!!! – I love it and get lost in time going though all the wonderful and inspiring images. Forget about the laundry, I’d rather be pinning.

  17. Donna says

    I just discovered your website today and you are amazing and incredibly talented! This is one of the best ideas I seen.

  18. says

    Love, love, lurve! I’ve been landscaping my backyard, but it takes so long and is so much work that I’m starting to get discouraged. Something cute like this would be great inspiration to keep beautifying! Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I’m a new follower….LOVE everything on here! Ah!

  19. says

    Popping over to say hello for the “Blog Party”! i host a garden party on Thursday’s & would love to have you come by to peek around or even link up?!? hope to see you sometime! xoox, tracie

  20. says

    well how snazzy is that?! love this upcycling idea on so many levels. the tuna can the thrifted glassware. good job :)

  21. says

    OH MY GOODNESS are these so awesome and cute! WHAT a MIND YOU HAVE! I would have NEVER thought of this! And I thought I was crafty! LOL You rock! xoxoxoxo Kat =^.^=
    PS NOW I have to get more power tools! LOL!

    • says

      HI Beth-

      Thanks so much. I was away over the weekend and just got back and noticed a huge spike in my pageviews. WOW thanks xo

  22. kelly says

    that is really cool, how in the world did you come up with that. i have those cans from costco chicken. i really want to try this!

  23. says

    Loved your lantern idea, but was completely distracted by your beautiful row of conifers …soooo pretty xx Ava

    • says

      Hi Ava-

      We planted them about 3 years ago as we were having some water draining issues. The mound they are on helps out with the drainage issue as well as provides privacy into our backyard. Thanks for connecting with me.

  24. Lynn says

    I saw this done several years ago for a wedding. They tied a beautiful white ribbon at the candle base area. I love yours! The color is perfect!

    • says

      Hi Lynn-

      That is where I saw the idea many years ago. They were all spray painted white with white bows. The cans were nailed onto dowels without the use of the copper fitting. I thought it was such a great idea and finally got to make one for myself.

    • says

      Hi Heather-

      Thanks so much. xo I just caught the tail end of Crafterminds and am so glad the tweets showed up in my stream. I am looking forward to connecting with the group every week.

  25. says

    Hi Diane! I wanted to let you know I featured this on my blog today — I’m sorry I don’t have a ‘featured’ button yet but wanted to let you know anyway!

  26. says

    I love this,, these would work great to line the pathway when my daughter gets married this fall.. we were gonna use tiki torches (painted black) but these look so much better.

  27. says

    This is so cool — almost as cool as that outdoor chandy from a couple of weeks back! Well, maybe it’s a toss-up!

  28. darlene says

    LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT …. gonna make this soon as the hubbs gets the new *paver* deck done … question, though: what is a *paint stick*? i’m thinkin’ those things they give you free from home depot or lowes, but it’s not lookin’ like that …. like a broom handle?

    • says

      Hi Darlene-

      It is the paint stick that a paint roller screws onto when you want to paint high up on the wall without using a ladder. I had a few old ones in my basement and used them. To buy them new at Home Depot/Lowes costs about $7, but you could use an old broom or mop stick to save some money.

  29. Maggie says

    My mom made these with my sister’s girl scout troup back in the early 60’s. Thanks for the memory.

    • says

      Hi Maggie-

      You are so welcome. I saw them done in white at a wedding a long time ago and have always kept the idea in the back of my mind for someday. Someday finally came.

  30. dana says

    I used this idea for my daughters backyard wedding. We painted the dowel and tuna cans white. Glued thin purple ribbon on the dowels and a simple flower on the painted tuna can. We then filled the vases with water and flower petals, put in a floating candle, They lined the bridal runner all the way up to where the bride and the groom stood. It looked amazing!! My daughter was so happy with how beautiful and inexpensive it looked! Thank you for the great idea

  31. Sheryll & Critters says

    Hi Diane,

    I just loved this idea/craft of yours. I am going to make 8 of them(I have 8 tumblers). But I can not find anyone with wooden broom handles, so I am considering using 1″ x 2″ firring strips that are 8 ft long. I can saw off a little square to balance the can on? Do you think that will work? Also, if you get tired of eating canned tuna, kitty kat food cans work just as well. Oh yeah, I wanted taller than the broom handles would make them so thinking I will try the firring strips (still pretty cheap).

    Thanks again,

    Sheryll & Critters.

  32. Jane says

    Hi Diane

    Love this idea! So chic – I am obsessed with restoration hardware and between this and your concrete pillars I could actually have the same look without having to starve myself!

    One idea – Since fire outside always kind of freaks me out, you might be able to use those solar lights that they sell for walkways, and maybe use some museum putty to stand them inside the hurricane glass or vase. Then your yard would be lit up every night without any effort and no fear of fire!

    Cool blog!

  33. Shirley says

    That is a great idea~I just threw out two old plastic leaf rakes and saved the handles ,*sticks, knowing something good would come of it. Thanks for this tutorial.

    • says

      Thanks Shirley – I do the same thing. I have a stash in my garage and basement of all the items I save to re-purpose someday.

  34. susan says

    Hi Diane, I am new to your blog and loving it already. I made these tuna can posts about 30 years ago. There were no dollar stores at the time OR pillar candles. I used tapers. I took the top of a soda bottle and put my screw threw that and into the can and dowel. (no paint handles) I lined my walk at Christmas. You really brought back memories.
    Thanks,
    Susan

  35. says

    I saw this idea briefly last week. Was at the hardware store w/husband and tried to explain to him and the clerk about the adapter. Neither one knew what I was talking about. Came home today and found this idea again, and showed it to my hubby. He said, “oh, I see. Very clever. But you need a paint stick. You were saying you needed a dowel stick.” Glad I revisited this idea! You came up with a very clever and cute light! Love it!

  36. Michele says

    What an awesome idea! I can’t wait to make one. Guess I need to eat a lot of tuna. Can u buy broom sticks? I guess any dawl will do. Thanks again for the idea. I will surely share this my crafty friends.

    • Sheryll & Critters. says

      I shopped for the wooden dowels and they were too expensive for me, so I purchased eight – 8 foot firring strips for 97 cents each plus tax (I have eight water tumblers). I originally planned on each staying as tall as I could get them, after posting in the dirt…… but I ended up cutting two of them short (in half) for some to be walking lighting & the others to be high for visual effect. I simply cut off a chunk and used it to nail the can into instead. Not the same exact “look”, but very cute and now my friend’s think I am clever…. grin. I do tell them all to read all of Diane’s blogs, she is so great.

  37. says

    came over from Not Just A Housewife contest…I do alot of upcycling – your project is pure genius!
    amy of four corners design

  38. Michelle says

    Grear idea. I want to make several to put around my deck. How did you put it in the ground? I am afraid if I hammer in the can it will dent. Again great idea, thanks for putting on Pinterest.

    • says

      hi Michelle-

      I put mine in to line my garden so the soil is soft and easy to just twirl the stick in as you would a beach umbrella in the sand. If it hard soil, you could make a hole first by hammering a stake into the ground and then removing it and then put the candle stick in to the hole.

  39. susan says

    Ok this may be a stupid question but what exactly is a paint stick?? If I say that around these parts they would think it was the flat stick that you stir paint with. Thanks!

  40. Sheryll & Critters. says

    In this instance Diane used a paint stick handle extender… you know that you screw into a shorter roller paint handle, for when you need to paint a high ceiling or high walls.

  41. says

    Hi Diane! I love this outdoor lantern~it is fantastic! I want to make a few of them. I have been poking around your blog, it is really impressive!! I am thinking of doing your zinc finish on the tuna can for the lantern, that would work too I think~so inspired!! I just opened two cans of tuna this week, time to get them out of the recycling bin!!

  42. says

    I just discovered your blog, you are amazing. I would have to work double time to stay up with you. I wanted to follow you but couldn’t find that so let me know how to follow. Thanks for all the great ideas, I think this one is my favorite. Of course I also have an ugly kitchen similar to the one you had so I also may be using some of your ideas on it as well.

  43. jan says

    love your blog……….so many creative ideas….already have my hurricane lamps so cheap at Goodwill………25-50 cents………had tuna tonight…….can’t wait to make the lanterns for around my deck.

  44. says

    This is so cute! You are so creative and thrifty! I pinned this and have it linked back to this site. Thanks for sharing your great idea! I’m going to make one to use next summer.

  45. Lucy says

    Love it!!! I went on a thrift store haul but unfortunately I could not find any hurricane lamp shades. I ended up purchasing some online for a couple of bucks. Now my problem is finding a tuna can that will fit the bottom!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • says

      Hi Lucy – Isn’t that always the case – when you purposely are looking to find something – you can’t. Wait a week or two and I am sure on your next thrifitng adventure one or more are sure to be lining the shelves. Tuna cans all look the same, but are slightly different. Look at crabmeat cans, too.

  46. Kris says

    Very cute light idea! I was also wondering if you knew what type of tree or shrub that is behind the light. They are just what I am looking for to go along the back of our side yard for a border. Thanks…

  47. Cecilia says

    Loving mason jars as I do, I would use mason jars to hold my lights, either tea lights or solar lights. I love the stands, whether sticks, handles, dowels, or whatever.

  48. says

    Thanks for sharing these instructions. I’m thinking of following your plan, but substituting an old pie or can pan for the tuna can, and creating a platform type bird feeder. :-)

  49. Sheri says

    Wow!! I love it, and can’t wait to make 2 of them for camping!! They will be perfect and easy to transport right in the camper. Thank you so much for all your wonderful ideas!

  50. Sal says

    I have to start eating more tuna, I just found 3 boxes of glass hurricanes in the attic of my business, knew I didn’t want to throw them out but wasn’t sure what to do with them. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Sal – What a find. When I got the idea to make the lantern – I had had to search through a few thrift stores before I found the style hurricane I envisioned.

  51. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Folks, don’t limit your opportunities. I used the medium, not tall, but not the tiny ones either of kitty kat food cans. I had somehow acquired some water glasses that I think are just dowdy (ugly). But they fit my empty kitty kat cans purfectly and I know love the glasses for outdoor torch lights/lanterns. I also could not afford dowels and no wooden broom handles on hand….. so I bought some very inexpensive PVC pipes… they come in long length’s and are less expensive (a lot) than dowels. At first I used some firring strips of 8 ft lengths and cut a piece off the top for the platform to hold the can. But this summer I switched to the PVC… just plug the end of the pipe where you want to attach the can… with wood glue and maybe some old newspaper first. It works and is prettier like Diane’s beautiful ones. I will save my pipes and glasses this winter and put them out again next year. And I always have some kind of use for the firring strips…. some where, you know? Don’t laugh, but you can also fill the pipes with kitty litter or sand also.

    I have the longest wish list in the world that I have made from so many of Diane’s wonderful ideas/tutorials.

    Diane is the very best I have found to learn, get ideas from, advice and what ever you need. She is honest and tells you the ins and outs of everything she does.

    Thank you very much Diane for so many wonderful ideas and all you have taught me.

  52. Carol Govora says

    Great idea! Your photos are nice and big. It’s so easy to see how to do everything to make these! So pretty!

  53. amy says

    This is amazing! I’m going to make it into a can holder for my husbands camping trips and just add a tiki torch stake to the bottom!

  54. Lucy says

    Hiiii! Love the idea. Can u tell me what’s the diameter of the bottom of the hurricane shade?

  55. Rose Myrtle says

    Oh, my gosh! I never knew you could make these things out of these! So simple and inexpensive! I don’t know how you get these ideas! I couldn’t think of all these!

  56. Sheila says

    My boyfriend came up with another clever idea… instead of one can per lantern, save two per lantern before you do the project. It simply needs to be sprayed to match and it becomes the “lid” for the lantern when it rains so you don’t have water logged lanterns and candles.

    • says

      Hi Sheila – You have one smart boyfriend :) That is an excellent idea. One that has me saying, ” Now why didn’t I think of that?” Thanks for taking the time to share it. Happy 2013!

  57. DeBi says

    Great Idea! Would it hurt to drill a few more holes in the bottom if it was left out in the rain so it would drain?

  58. TQ Fabulous says

    If you use a can as a rain lid or all the time with the battery lights, you could glue something cute to the top. Like a marble or finial shaped item. Small plastic tread spool and a marble painted with the rest. Can’t wait to try this. Thanks again, Diane! You are awesome!

  59. Marcia says

    These are great! I love up cycling and making lanterns was something I never thought of. You are very clever and creative ;-)

    Thank you

  60. Mary says

    Thanks for this great idea !! I’m going to make some for my yard too. How about using some kind of PVC connecter instead of the copper one? $3.00 is kind of expensive for a tightwad like me LOL

  61. Bernadette says

    We have a lot of wind in our area. I am just wondering how the problem of glass breaking in the event that a wind storm comes up and blows over the lantern?

    • says

      Hi Bernadette – It is quite windy where I live, too. My neighborhood is called Winding Brook, but the builders dubbed it “Windy Brook” :) If you use the hurricanes where the bottom goes down into the can – they will be fine. A glass that just sits on the top of the can with no part of it in the can – may blow off. The bottom of the stick/stem is wedged into the ground and is very secure. It will stand up in a storm, unless it floods and the dirt that is holding it up washes away.

  62. says

    Love these, but have a question about what happens when it rains…. does the can fill with water? I suppose some holes punched around the can would help, but in the meantime, the candles would be floating in water with the kind of heavy rains we have. Any suggestion?

    • says

      Hi Pat – I don’t leave mine out all the time, so I have not had to deal with water getting into them. Drilling holes in the bottom of the can is a great idea if you plan on leaving them out. I would drill them in the bottom, so they would be hidden and not change the look of the lantern.

  63. Michelle Platt says

    Excellent Idea! I saw this a while back and have been saving my tuna fish cans all summer long! I think I’m going to embark upon this project sometime this week, as a matter of fact.
    I will be sure to post photos.
    Thanks for the great inspiration!

  64. james says

    I just got through making a patio using recycled bricks from the 1890’s and have been trying to think of creative ways to do the lighting with recycled products. This is perfect! Since I have access to cedar trees I might use the cedar tree trunks instead of broom sticks. Since I already have plenty of glass chimney’s lying around all I need to do is look in my recycle bin for that tuna fish can I threw away and paint it.

  65. Meg S says

    Love this!!! I made 12 for a party I’m helping host!!! Inexpensive w a great impact. I have 1 question though. How did you get these in the ground??? I used a wooden dowel and feel I’m going to have trouble getting it in the ground!

    • says

      Hi Meg – To get the lantern sticks/dowels into the ground – I just pushed them in. The ground was not hard. If your ground is hard, you can dig a small hole, place the dowel in and then pack the dirt around the hole and dowel to make it secure. Another way is to push the bottom of the dowel in the dirt and move it in a circular motion as you press down. (Like you were putting a beach umbrella into the sand) Once it is down far enough – straighten it out and press the dirt to pack it around the dowel. You can also place them in flower pots where the dirt is soft.

  66. Renea H says

    Looks like I will be having Tuna for lunch today before I head off to Lowes Home Improvement for some supplies. Now I will be adding copper to my list.. Very Nice DIY Lantern you have here..

  67. Jamie says

    I made these last summer for a graduation party, I used stakes from solar lights that no longer worked. I glued the tuna can onto them. They survived being outside all winter in northern Illinois.

  68. Phil says

    This is a great idea but I was not able to find hurricane shades to fit the tuna cans. So, I substituted 6 oz. salmon cans instead. They were a perfect fit. I am havingh to make over 2o of them for a wedding. Thanks for the idea.

  69. Sheila says

    Diane, I just joined your blog, and I have to say girl, I am sooo impressed with your creativity and glad I did !!! I never thought of doing this. My yard needs a boost, so we will be eating A LOT of salmon for awhile … :-D Thanks for the great inspiration.

    Sheila

  70. Tami says

    Wonderful blog. But I tried to sign up for the newsletter by email and
    its “deactivated.” Also could not get the reader sign up to work. Could
    you please put me on the list. Thanks

  71. Jill says

    One question. Do you have to worry about rain water in the vase? That is my only concern with project. Just trying to think ahead before I make these and realize there is more that I hadn’t thought about.

    • says

      Hi Jill – I never have had a problem, but you can always drill some holes in the bottom of the tuna can. This will keep water to build up in the can.

  72. Kristyn says

    Hi Diane,
    I love love love this project. Why am I just now finding it??? I’ve been on your site forever and thought I’d seen it all. But you never cease to amaze me. Great project to start on this first day of summer :))

    • says

      Thanks Kristyn – The tuna can lantern is one of my most popular posts. :-) It is pretty versatile – it can go to from trad to modern to funky depending on what color you paint it and the glass you use. It is a easy DIY for summer and even in the Fall. It adds a cozy touch to my backyard when I am sitting snuggled under a blanket at bight enjoying being outside before it gets too cold. Happy Summer

  73. says

    I get pleasure from, result in I found just what I was taking a look
    for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

  74. Wendy says

    What a great idea! Just moved into a new place and have a small patio area that needs some light… this is a great solution :)

  75. Betty819 says

    Great idea! If you’re going to be putting this outdoors, why not use citronella candle to ward off mosquitos and other bugs? My concern with using the hurricane type lantern is that the glass those are usually made of is thin, might pop or crack from the heat of the candle. Super idea for an outdoor wedding..I think I have an old mop or broom in the garage and probably a paint roller extender stick.

  76. Florida Vince says

    Great idea! They look great and are easy to build. We’ll be making ours using wax LED candles with a timer feature instead of real candles and using them as landscape / pathway lights. I’ll most likely use upside down straight edged mason jars (for weather protection) and frost the interiors to give them a warmer glow. Anyway, great site and nice work!

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