Painted keys are way more fun than plastic key identifier rings, and they’re a great way tell your keys apart without adding extra bulk. Alternately, if you’d rather make a version that’s more decorative than functional, you can always string the key onto a chain and wear it as a necklace instead. (Go ahead and pretend it’s the key to the TARDIS—I won’t tell!)
* 1 key
* Blue paint marker, medium tip
* White paint marker, fine tip
* Black paint marker, extra fine tip
* Permanant pen or marker, fine point * optional
* Mod Podge, Matte Finish
* Rubbing alcohol or window cleaner
* Cotton ball
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To remove any dirt or oil, clean the key thoroughly with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol or window cleaner.
Use the blue paint marker to apply the background color evenly to the front and the back of the key, allowing it to dry completely before moving on to the next steps.
To keep from smudging the paint, you can use a binder clip to hold the key in place while it dries.
Print out the words “Police Box” in a size 12 outline font, then trim the paper so that only a rectangle containing the words remains. (You can adjust the font size as needed to fit your key.)
Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the back of your Police Box rectangle, then press it into place on the key.
- Tip: If you have an unsteady hand, fill in the white space as described in step 5 before bonding the rectangle to the key.
Once the Police Box rectangle is dry, use either a black fine point permanent marker or an extra fine tip paint marker to carefully color in the white space, leaving only the letters visible. To finish, use the black paint marker to expand the rectangle to fit the size of your key, filling in color on the top, bottom, and both sides as needed.
Update: Having trouble filling in the white space? Here are some tips:
I used my OttLite detail lamp to make sure that I had the clearest view possible. A bright desk lamp or a sunny day are great low-cost substitutes for specialized lighting.
If the fine tip of the Sharpie pen isn’t small enough for you to get the detailed lines that you want, I’d suggest trying a Micron pen in size 005 (0.2mm). Micron pens are relatively inexpensive and the ink is high quality. (Since you’re going to seal the paper with Mod Podge, the ink doesn’t actually have to be as permanent as the ink found in the Sharpie pen.)
You can combine good lighting with an old school hands-free magnifying glass to make the details clearer. I rarely do this until I’m already really frustrated, and I always wish I’d done it sooner. (Mind you, take care not to burn holes in your paper.)
If you make a mistake, allow the paint to dry, then use a toothpick to dot blue paint over the white paint to cover up the error. (You can use this method for any painting mistake in this project.)
When the window squares have dried completely, use the black paint marker to outline each window and draw the grilles.
When all of your paint is dry to the touch, use the sponge brush to apply a layer of matte Mod Podge over the entire painted surface. Allow to dry completely before adding the key back to your keyring.