I’ve been itching awhile to find something to do with vintage keys. I’ve always wanted to try stamping on them, but was too worried about the hardness of the keys destroying the detailing of the metal letters. So when Impress Art came out with new premium stamps manufactured especially for use on hard metals and stainless steel (they have a lifetime guarantee!) I had to give them a try.
Searching for the perfect key
It’s kind of a funny story where all these keys came from. My husband’s Father was an antique collector and regularly attended antique auctions. One Saturday he came back from an auction with an enormous metal safe. When he got home and opened it, he realized there was a locked interior metal box way at the back – but he had no key. So he kept buying keys and buying keys and buying keys, hoping to find the one that would open that interior safe.
Vintage keys can be really beautiful, but the keys I wanted to try and use were the plain ones. Smooth and without ridges so they could be stamped down the long side. I thought maybe they were a special type of key, maybe a trunk key or something specific like that. But, the only name for them I found was “flat keys” which isn’t very exciting but at least the description rings true.
Vintage Stamped Key Jewelry Materials
- Premium Metal Stamping Set by Impress Art
- Stamping Block
- Vintage flat Keys
- Gilders Paste
- Jewelry Chain
- For the bracelet – about 9″ of chain (large enough that the lobster clasp will fit in it, so it will be adjustable) lobster clasp, 2 jump rings and a 2 hole punch by Impress Art
Cleaning the Keys
To research cleaning the keys, I hopped on the internet. Household vinegar kept popping up as the best solution so I gave it a try. I soaked the keys for 30 minutes and it did clean the keys, but it didn’t remove the grime. I was going for an aged look, but not really a grimy one. I had just about chucked doing this project, until a couple of days later when I did some cleaning and found this bottle of Brasso under the sink. “Helps polish and protect most metals.” Huh. So I tried it and it worked. I have no idea why Brasso was under our sink, but I’ve since determined that trying things for yourself is sometimes better than just using the internet.
To get a before and after cleaning comparison, in the 4th picture from the beginning the 3 keys on the lower right were cleaned using Brasso (which stinks pretty bad, so I opened a window) and the rest of the keys to the left were cleaned just using vinegar (which also stinks pretty bad).
Monogrammed Vintage Key Necklaces
I started with the monogram necklace first to get some practice stamping on the keys.
I trashed the next key entirely by not wacking it hard enough and then by wacking it too hard. So after practicing a bit, I got my confidence back and stamped the word love on this key. That’s my husbands initial on the front of the tiny key. On the other side of the tiny key is my initial. (awwwww.)
Vintage Key Bracelet How-To
Here’s a quick tutorial on the key bracelet.
1. Stamp your message
As I said above, you will have to hit these keys harder than most pendants. If you’ve never stamped before, hop on over to my tutorial Metal Stamping Tips + Tricks for some suggestions on letter alignment and other stamping tips.
2. Punch the hole
This handy little drill by Impress Art punches holes through all types of metal including coins. With a pencil, mark where you want your hole. Place the key inside the clamp and turn the screw clockwise. The screw swivels down and pops out a little 1 /16″ sized hole.
3. Patina the key
Using a Q-Tip, wipe Gilders Paste across the entire front of the key, making sure it fills all the stamped impressions. Then, wipe it off with a soft cloth or paper towel.
4. Add chain and a jump ring
Cut a piece of chain about 9″ long. Using jewelry pliers open a jump ring and attach the key and one end of the chain to the jump ring and then close.
5. Add a lobster claw
Open a jump ring, slide on a lobster claw to the other end of the chain and close the jump ring.
Good Luck and happy stamping!
(Our contest is now closed.)
Congratulations to the winner Susan Gray! Happy stamping Susan!
Many of you asked in the comments if my Father-in-Law ever found the key to open the safe. And no, he did not. He passed away before he was able to open the safe. But for him, the fun was in the hunt.