The Keys To My Heart: A Quick & Personal Art Project

Last week during the blogiversary madness, there were requests for more fast & *almost* free projects – especially the ones that renters and homeowners alike can whip out in under an hour. So here’s an under $10 project that I took ten minutes, tops.

Do you get the hidden meaning behind the keys? Look a little closer. See how there’s one tall key, one medium key, and two small keys (one of which is horizontal while one’s vertical)? Well, that’s our little key family. Haha. Burger’s the horizontal guy.

When I saw a bowl of keys for $2 at an antique store on the way home from Granny’s, I stared at them for a while, literally thinking “what can I do with these?” When I saw some big ones and some small ones, it came to me. Why not get a daddy key, a momma key, a Clara key, and a Burger key? So eight bucks later I had my little key “muses” at home on my desk in a pile. It took me a few weeks to get to the craft store to grab some nice thick wood-grain-ish paper (I ended up finding it Michaels for 60 cents), which I decided would make a fun natural background for my rustic little old keys. So I got it home and cut it down to fit into the Ikea frame that I already had on hand.

Then I just taped the paper in place behind the mat (which came with the frame).

Next I laid out the keys in height order, and tipped the Burger key over since that’s more like his shape. After snickering for a minute at my little key family (yeah, I’m that ridiculous) I grabbed some Gorilla Glue and put a few dollops on the back of each key and pressed them down into the paper so they’d dry in that layout. You might want to do this on top of cardboard or a dropcloth, just in case the glue bleeds through the paper (ya don’t want to glue everything to the table/counter).

Oh and to anyone at home trying to glue something slightly heavy like a metal key to something, the key is to get thick enough paper – or if you have thin paper, try backing it with something thicker (like gluing it to cardboard or card stock) to stabilize it so it’ll hold those metal keys without buckling or sagging. Thankfully our paper was nice and thick- sort of like card stock.

Ta-daaa. The fun part about this was that it was so quick and easy that if we should ever add another little one (pooch or human) to the pack, I can always pop these off of the paper, choose a new background in any print or pattern, and grab a few more old keys at a thrift or antique store to glue on.

Oh and you can kind of tell from the picture, but there’s still glass in the frame. I wondered if the keys would be too thick for the glass to work (in which case I just would have used the frame without the glass, so they would be 3-D/exposed in the front) but I just tried securing the back of the frame with the glass in there and it latched, so it’s nice to know that I won’t have dust collecting on the keys. But if you have a more shallow frame that doesn’t allow the glass to remain once you add the thickness of the keys, getting a shadow box or just removing the glass is always an option.

As for where we hung it, the wall in the laundry room right next to the door that we go in and out of everyday seemed like a nice spot since that’s where we have a few favorite personal/family pics along with other randomly meaningful items…

… like an iron bee hook that reminds us of the bees on our wedding invites and a metal 7, which is a nod to our wedding date (we actually picked that up at a local outlet, The Decorating Outlet, this weekend and I hung it when I hammered in my key art).


What are you guys popping into frames lately? Don’t you love that you can grab cool textured paper like the wood grain stuff that we used? I’m a happy camper in that paper aisle, I’m telling ya. Do any of you have old skeleton keys that actually work in a door or two in your home? That has always been a dream of mine. Well, that and living in the paper aisle…


  1. says

    I love this! It’s too cute.

    We have several old keys floating around in our junk drawers that we don’t know what they’re to. I’ve been wanting to do something with them for a while. Maybe I’ll make some art out of them.

    Is that paper textured? It’s gorgeous by itself!

  2. says

    Love the idea. I have so many keys that I have saved over the years from different houses and cars. Too bad I didn’t label them all. I am going to make a picture with them. Thanks Sherry………..

  3. says

    I have 2 working skeleton keys actually! It is a dream! Nighmare if you use one of them though – since it technically fits all interior doors in our current house, yet normally sticks. I once locked my husband in a room for 30 mins while I tried to unlock him with the skeleton key! oops.

    My other is from a real life working skeleton front door from our house back in England. No door knob, just a key to get in and out. How cool! It was dreamy. (although again, nightmarish if locked in in a fire)
    This is why we don’t use them anymore!

    • says

      Oh no! That sounds like something I would do (locking the hubby in a room for 30 minutes by accident). They do still sound amazing to me though! So jealous.


    • says

      sorta a prank gone wrong… big oops. Finally got it after lots of WD40! Heads up for anyone who has an old house: we found our skeleton key on the top of a door frame after living there for a while! Someone had left it there and we only found it after being on a tall ladder.

    • Shellie says

      I have found keys on door frames in the last 2 houses I’ve lived in! They were just little dummy keys for opening privacy doors, but it was still funny to find something new after living there awhile.

    • says

      They really are a nightmare to use! My apartment in Rome when I was studying abroad had this crazy massive door which required like 3 different crazy looking keys for. It was like one key goes here, turn it clockwise 3.5 times, another goes here, counterclockwise 3/4 a turn, last one goes here, simultaneously turn this one at the same time you are turning the others (even though you only have two hands). Such a nightmare and there were soooo many times we couldn’t get the door open…

  4. Sarah says

    Sherry, before you know it, you’re going to be the little key and Clara is going to be the middle key! Our house is so old that our doors still use skeleton keys. I feel like a dungeon master haha.

    • says

      Haha, I know it about Clara being the tall one soon enough. And it’s so awesome that your house has skeleton keys. I wanna be a dungeon master when I grow up!


    • denise says

      Ha ha! I wouldn’t have thought about it that way but we’re in that situation. Both my boys are taller than I am now. I don’t think it would be so cute with “mom” separated from “dad” by 2 kids.

      Very cute project! And I love the new 7.

  5. says

    So, so sweet. We would need 3 really tall ones. Okay, maybe I am giving Greta too much credit. But the girl, I fear she will be even taller than I am one day. We are currently working on a gallery wall for the living room. In fact, I worked on it for I think 5 hours yesterday. It’s all art, but I would love to include this idea!

  6. LeCheech says

    D’aw, mine would only have two li’l keys. I don’t think anyone else would get its significance; but I picked up on y’alls right away!

  7. says

    So cute! I have a ton of skeleton keys my MIL gave me from her Dad’s house… this would be a fun little keepsake to make for her, thanks for sharing!

  8. Erin R says

    I have a skeleton key problem, which is that I “collect” them because they’re cool (i.e. buy one in almost every antique store I go to) and then I shove them in a drawer somewhere never to see the light of day again. I am totally going to do this with some of the prettier ones, what a great idea!

  9. Lacy says

    We recently bought a foreclosure and have been busy fixing it up. While I was painting I found the blue prints to the house on top of the cupboards. I framed two of them on Sunday, just need to frame two more. We are also making a “frame wall” after seeing your awesome hallway. Thanks for all of the inspiration. :)

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