Acrylic Keychains 10 Different Ways
I haven’t tried making keychains until now, but I have had a set of acrylic keychain blanks in my arsenal of craft supplies for over a year now that I have been meaning to have some fun with. No better time than the present! I have tons of crafting supplies, so I did some experimenting to see what I could create with things I already had and came up with 10 different techniques for you to try. I was pretty impressed with what worked well and what didn’t work so great, and I can’t wait to share what I learned with you.
Table of Contents
Techniques for back surface application
ModPodge with glitter
Diamond Glaze with latex paint and metallic fabric paint
UV resin with paint
UV resin with glitter
Chalk paint and glitter
Techniques for front surface application
Heat transfer vinyl (HTV)
Colored engraving with Diamond Glaze
Materials I Used:
- Acrylic keychain blanks, mine are clear 2” round blanks
- Latex paint (I used leftover sample paints that I had)
- Chalk paint (again, leftovers from another project)
- Sponge paint brushes
- Craft sticks
- Glitter (I used so much glitter!)
- Diamond Glaze
- Amaco Rub’n Buff paint in Autumn Gold
- Tulip metallic fabric paint in Gold
- ModPodge dishwasher safe gloss
- ProMarine Pro Art UV Resin
- UV Light (and sunlight to cure the resin)
- Permanent Vinyl
- Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
- Cricut Mini Heat Press
- Cricut Maker with fine point blade and engraving blade
Techniques for Back Surface Application
There are many materials you can apply to the back to the keychain blank, regardless of what you plan to design on the front. I used paints, glitter, resin, and Diamond Glaze to achieve several really cool, unique effects with my projects.
ModPodge with Glitter
I’m not sure I know a crafter who doesn’t have some form of ModPodge in their supply closet. It has so many uses. I applied a layer of ModPodge with a sponge brush and let it dry for a few minutes. After, I dumped on a liberal amount of gold glitter and tapped off the excess. I let it dry overnight and then I painted another layer of ModPodge over the glitter to seal it.
The project has a dense amount of glitter which I loved, but the back surface is bumpy and unappealing. The glitter does, however, show through brilliantly and stays on well once it was completely dried. From the front, this is one of my favorite projects because I love how blingy it is.
Diamond Glaze with Latex Paint
I had some extra paint samples from my daughter’s bedroom so I decided to make her a keychain with those colors, which are her favorites. I painted strips of the colors onto the back of the keychain. Once it dried, I applied Diamond Glaze over the top and let it dry. It gave it a smooth, silky finish on the back.
I love the way the backside of it came out; it’s very glossy. The front side of it doesn’t have to “wow” factor the glitter ModPodge one had, but I still really think it’s pretty.
Diamond Glaze with Fabric Paint
For this project, I mixed the fabric paint with some Diamond Glaze in about a 1:1 ratio. I applied it to the back of the keychain with a craft stick, and I spread it as thinly as I could. I let it dry completely for 24-48 hours.
Since the fabric paint I used was gold metallic, it had some elements of shimmer without actually having glitter added, so it gave it a subtle glow.
UV Resin with Rub’n Buff Paint
Rub’n Buff paint is one of my favorite things ever! I use it to color etched glass and it is awesome. See my recent article Etching and Painting Glass to learn more about that technique. Since a little goes a long way with this stuff, I had some lying around. I mixed it with UV resin and voila! I created something completely unexpected and original, and I absolutely love the way it turned out (so I decided to keep this keychain for myself).
The Rub’n Buff color is Autumn Gold, which is between a copper and rose gold, and when mixed with the UV resin, a chemical reaction occurred and the color patinaed into something that resembled an old copper penny. There are coppers and greens and it’s quite spectacular. The back is a bit bumpy, I could probably apply a thin layer of clear UV resin to the top to smooth it out, but I rather like the unique texture that developed. From the front, the copper shines through really well.
UV Resin with Glitter
Since everyone makes glitter resin acrylic keychains, I felt that I should attempt to try it since this was my first go-around with keychains, and they were simple to make and turned out absolutely gorgeous. I would make these again and again because co-workers, friends, and my kids, who saw these all wanted one. In fact, I let my kids design their own with the glitter colors and images they wanted. I mixed a few milliliters of resin together and poured some of it into 4 different cups and in each cup poured different glitters. I felt like I put a generous amount of glitter but once the project was done, I wished that I had used twice as much. I wanted more glitter. I mixed, mixed, and mixed until it was well incorporated then used craft sticks to apply a small layer to the back of the blank. Since bubbles occur often with UV resin, I used a lighter to heat the top of the resin to get the bubbles out, and it worked immediately to remove them.
To cure the UV resin, I tried several methods that I had read about to see which ones had any merit to them. I used Pro Marine Resin for my projects.
Water Curing: This is a process by which you allow the project to dry mostly and if it is still tacky, you put it into water to finish the curing process. I tried this for 1 minute, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes. It didn’t work for me at all.
UV light: This method works best if you have a UV light that is 36W or greater. Don’t use a small, inexpensive nail-curing light. It doesn’t work at all no matter how long you leave it under there.
Rubbing Alcohol: With this process, you rub isopropyl alcohol onto the project to remove any residual tackiness on the surface. Tried 76% and 99% rubbing alcohol. Both didn’t work.
Direct Sunlight: I live in Seattle, and this is hard to come by, so my project had to wait until the sun wanted to come out before I could try this, but 20-30 minutes in the direct sun did the trick. Totally dry!
Indirect Sunlight: This worked best for me because I set them inside on the window sill on a partly cloudy day. Set it out for about 4 hours and it was cured by the time I checked on it again.
Time: I let my project sit for a week on my crafting desk in no direct or indirect sunlight and it did not cure. It was “dry” but the surface was slightly tacky and when I touched it, it would stick to my fingers and leave indents on the surface of the resin. Many keychains were ruined. Let’s have a moment of silence for those that were lost.
The best thing to do is purchase a strong UV light if you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do or allow them to cure in the natural sunlight. Please also note that every UV resin is different, so your experience may not be the same as mine.
Paint and Glitter
I had some black chalk paint leftover from a playroom project and I decided to see if that would work well on the acrylic. I painted the back to the keychain with a sponge brush and dusted some gold glitter flakes on the wet paint and let it dry. I didn’t apply any sealant on top. I think it came out okay, but it’s certainly not my favorite. It is glittery from the back, but front the front, you can see some of the brush strokes and no glitter shining through. EVERYTHING NEEDS MORE GLITTER!
Techniques for Front Surface Application
Now that you have created some amazing backdrops for your keychain, it’s time to finish it off. There are a few things I tried on the front surface that were completely new for me, including engraving, which I have never done with my Cricut Maker until now (I know, right!?)
Good ‘ol vinyl is a go-to for any Cricut project, but keychains allow us to use all the scraps and bits that we hoard beyond belief, hoping one day to use them and not having the heart to discard them in the trash. You will never use any piece larger than 2×2 so it’s perfect for those scraps. If you have an iPhone or an iPad that you craft with, this is where that snap mat feature comes in particularly handy! I used a variety of permanent vinyl, glitter vinyl, and holographic vinyl on the front of my keychains.
Heat Transfer Vinyl
Who says HTV only works on fabric? I used my Cricut Mini Heat Press on medium heat to apply Siser Twinkle HTV to the front of my keychain. I used firm pressure for 20-30 seconds, then I let it cool. I peeled the transfer paper and repressed it for 10-15 seconds.
I like the way that it came out, and it did not damage the acrylic at all. It did leave a small offset of glue from the HTV onto the surface, but it was almost undetectable.
True story, I just received the Cricut engraving tool for my Maker this week so I was chomping the bit to try it out. I chose to try my hand at engraving a tiny succulent image onto the front of one of the keychains.
I think it turned out well, though my alignment was slightly off. My engraving came out very thin so I would like to experiment with it more but for this project, I think it’s a cute little piece.
Painted Engraving with Diamond Glaze
I engraved my initials on a blank keychain with no back design and felt it was too plain, so I used the Amaco Rub’n Buff to fill in where the Cricut machine engraved the acrylic and it really made a difference by allowing the details of the initial to stand out.
I made the initial slightly larger than I should have, but overall, it’s sweet and simple. Since I didn’t want the paint to rub off, I applied Diamond Glaze over the top of it to seal it and give it a glossy surface.
I tried so many different techniques that all came out well. This is a simple and fun project that can be totally customized to your tastes or even what you have lying around in your craft area. Do you have a favorite keychain technique? Comment below and let me know!