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Embellished Altered Keys Tutorial

Updated on August 27, 2013

This Tutorial is about altering ordinary disgarded house and car keys

These Embellished Altered Keys are fabulous to use for your scrapbook pages, altered books, collages and mixed media projects.

Lovely embellishments to add on book and journal covers, even as new jewelery pieces!

Dig through your junk drawer, your jewelry boxes and visit your local thrift shops and garage sales for lovely baubles and bits to add to your key creations. This tutorial makes a fabulous workshop or class and a fabulous fun day with the gal pals making these keys.

I hope you will enjoy my tutorial, I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Creating


I had been saving this pile of keys for a while now with the idea that someday, somehow, I was going to alter them into something crafty. Well, today was "someday" actually the last couple of days. I was having so much fun I kept making more.

Basic Supplies:

Black and gold acrylic paints

water based varnish clear

sponge brush and paint brush

wax paper

Goop glue

Jewelery making supplies including: jump rings, wire, head pins, eye pins etc.

Good jewelery needle nose pliers (even 2 pair work well if you have)

Filigree embellishments all shapes & sizes

assorted cabochons, buttons, broken jewelery, beads, chain and any other decorations you desire.

Getting Started:

Start with a collection of ugly old car and house keys.

Next get out your black paint, using a sponge brush paint the keys both sides. I set them down on wax paper as I was working on them. Don't be too fussy about making them perfect because the paint doesn't stick perfectly. Besides, you will be adding additional colors that will hide any flaws.

Next, using the gold paint, dry brush very lightly a little bit of gold on each key, allowing lots of the original black paint to show through. This just gives a very vintage look.

Variations: Try painting with patina colors, for an antique copper look, or even rusting your keys for a couple week for a natural weathered look.

Yep, I know, they still look like old house and car keys but they are getting better right?

Now give a very light coat of varnish to protect the paint from chipping.

Now go through your stash of Filigree embellishments to decide which style fits best with each key. Be sure to try them different ways too, I loved the diamond shape when I turned it the other way.

Ohhh, not sure where to get a great collection of filigree findings? Well be sure to visit my website for a variety of different styles of these wonderful filigree embellishments.

I changed my mind several times before I actually glued them down. Using Goop Glue, glue the filigree pieces to the keys. covering the old key face as you desire.

Next is the embellishing of your keys. It is impossible to give you actual instructions because it all depends on how fancy you want to get or what findings are available to you. But if you are resourceful, you will probably have a multitude of great items very close at hand. I used buttons (break off the shanks) odd earrings, cabochons, gems, beads, chain and more.

Be sure to glue these items on using the Goop glue, this way you know they wont fall off.

Below are pictures of finished keys that I made. I will describe what I used for each key (I think I actually remember)

Key 1 a pair of earrings, one attached to the key, the other dangles from a chain.

Key 2

A watch face with a cabochon and matching beads dangle from a chain.

Key 3

A butterfly hair barrette with matching beads and chain.

Key 4 a Button and a chain tassle from a necklace.

Key 5 A button, beads and chain

Key 6 Another button (too easy) and more beads and chain

Key 7 Coin trinket with beads and chain

Key 8 Red Glass Gem beads chain

Key 9 Heart shaped earring and more beads and chain

Key 10 Button

Key 11 Pendant with glass bead

key 12 Button

These I used some broken necklaces chain and beads

Key 13 Earring

Key 14 Button

Key 15 Earring

Start asking your friends for all their old jewelery, visit your local thrift shops and garage sales.

Key 16 Cabochon

Key 17 Hair barrette

key 18 Earring

I really lucked out in my stash of beads to find matching colors, but I do have a huge stash to work with. keep in mind when you are making these keys, what you want to add and match with the embellishments.

Key 19 Button (it actually fit right into the frame)

Key 20 Earring ( I love this green one)

Key 21 Gem ( a plastic dollar store find)

Key 22 Pendant

Key 23 Button

Key 24 Another Earring

So there you have it! Hopefully you will be inspired to create your own embellished keys. Please let me know if you make any yourself, I would love to see your creations.

Visit Paper Digital Art and Imagesbykim

Please let me know that you stopped in and if you enjoyed this tutorial. if you make any of these embellishments, please send me your pics. I always enjoy seeing other artist's work!

I would love to hear from you!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thankyou I cant wait to have a go at these they look wonderful .

    • imagesbykim profile image

      imagesbykim 6 years ago

      @anonymous: hi,

      Most of the filigree pieces do have holes in them fo reasy attachment. I thne use a jump ring and a pair of pliers to attach any other trinkets and bling to the finished key.

      Thanks for stopping and your comments on my lense


    • imagesbykim profile image

      imagesbykim 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Rebecca,

      Yes I am starting to sell these filigree pieces on my website.

      Here is the link:

      Thanks for stopping in!


    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love your tutorial. I am about to search out some keys and commence the

      process. How did you attach the ring to connect bling?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have this tutorial saved for a long time now and still unable to find the little mandala things you use for the base of your key decorating. You have any idea where I can find them/

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very good instructions, I am also a mixed media artist from Canada, and love altering keys :)

      Lensrolling to my first tutorial on Squidoo, on how to make bookmarks with pressed flowers.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Wow, they're so pretty. Totally not what I expected.

    • devilsworkshopc profile image

      devilsworkshopc 7 years ago

      Interesting ideas! Love the photos of your studio.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I was hunting through my long list in my favorites section and found this wonderful page with the key tutorial, I have held on to many such keys just knowing one day I will get round to transforming the ugly ducklings. I found your page to be direct and to the point (no Faffing) well done and a really good journey. I am now about to look through your link sections.

      I see you have an Etsy page and will check it out later, I recently started selling on Etsy (Feb) although I have have been a shopper since last year, I have'nt sold anything yet (scotlanduk) . If you look at my site and see a reason I might not be selling please feel free to advise me.

      Anyway my real reason for adding my comment on this page is to say I love it. Regards

    • michelleart profile image

      Michelle Collins 8 years ago from Florida

      These are awesome!

    • profile image

      burntchestnut 8 years ago

      What a neat idea. I like the embellished keys without the jewels the best. I've bookmarked your blog, too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great Lens Kim, thanks for posting. I just featured you on my blog today on 1000 Markets.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      What a unique idea - blessed by a squidangel :)

    • profile image

      MUJERDEEXITO 8 years ago

      I really love this lens...What a creativity...Congratulations.

    • profile image

      rydigga 9 years ago

      Hi Kim, Excellent lens. Very interesting practice, thanks for sharing.


    • Mortira profile image

      Mortira 9 years ago

      Recycling and art go together so well! Thanks for sharing these great ideas! * * * * *

    • profile image

      seili 9 years ago

      Oh, great idea! Thanks for sharing it, I want to try this!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      This is really wonderful lens! Featuring it in tutorials in Reuse it all! group! And I'm really glad to have you in this group! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Bravo - this is fantastic.. I have tons of old & antique door keys (not skeleton) in which I am turning into jewelry but I never thought of embellishing any more than their own fancy squiggle work.. thanks for the tut! It's great!

    • profile image

      TopMarketingMom 9 years ago

      This is a great lens! You are so creative! 5***** from me too!!

    • DivineIguana profile image

      DivineIguana 9 years ago

      These are gorgeous! What an inspirational lens!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Great idea. Great lens. 5*

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Lovely key charms and beauitful looking lens.

    • annetteghallowe1 profile image

      annetteghallowe1 9 years ago

      I LOVE this idea! Now I am kicking myself for all those ? keys that got trashed during the last move. Something new to add to my "must do" list. Thanks and a 5* favorite

    • profile image

      dtbs 9 years ago

      interesting lens! thanks for sharing this info! please check mine out at----------------> Kava Kava.

    • ms-giggles profile image

      ms-giggles 9 years ago

      WOW!!!! 5***** to your lens and the gift of art you have. I was blown away by what you did with the keys. You are so gifted!!! I wish you such great success with Squidoo and will meet you at the top.

      God Bless Beth

    • profile image

      MsMorrison 9 years ago

      very creative!i had no idea that keys could be this beautiful.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 9 years ago

      Can hardly credit this lens, it's such a novel idea, wish I had even a fingernail of your talent. Keep it up and the best of luck

    • profile image

      JAV010 9 years ago

      Hey this lens is realy great i love this lens 5 stars from me :)

    • Nancy S Oram profile image

      Nancy Oram 9 years ago

      More fun stuff for my grandaughters! It's getting hard to choose. We'll just have to do them all.

    • The Eclectic Muse profile image

      The Eclectic Muse 9 years ago

      What a fantastic idea! Great pics and details on the lens too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Stopping in from ZNE. Love the keys!! Each one is so unique. Easy directions, love all the pictures. Thanks for sharing.


    • profile image

      Tarra99 9 years ago

      Wicked keys Kim!...just like you, the diamond ones are my fav!..esp the one with the green bug! TOO COOL!