January 5, 2012

Polymer Clay Skeleton Keys [Tutorial]

Let me start with a disclaimer...I am in no way a clay artist or professional, or whatsoever. But I am happy to share what I've learned with those of you who've asked me to!!
I basically picked up some clay because, well,  I live in Utah and there aren't any rockin antique stores around here {that I've found, anyway} and I don't want to pay Ebay prices for a key.
But then this little key appeared on Pinterest and I had to at least try to make my own.

For this project you need polymer clay, I bought a tiny package of Sculpey for $2 something at Joann's. With this teeny, tiny bit of clay I was able to make 6 skeleton keys.
Why 6? Well, I made 3 for my Christmas tree but was too busy to make a tutorial, or take any pics while I did it. I think I was doing something like 15 projects that day. Anywho- I made 3 more keys so I could show you all how super, duper easy it is.
Here are some of the images I used to select the skeleton keys I made.
I helped mucho to have an idea of what I needed to do.

First- The clay came perforated into 4 sections. I took one of the sections and rolled it out with my hand. My hand worked better than a little rolling pin because it warmed up the clay and helped keep it from cracking. One section can be rolled out into a long "snake" which I split the into roughly three pieces and cut it with a sharp and thin knife to keep from will "mooshing" the clay and instead make a clean cut. These three pieces form the "shank" of the three keys. {PS I had to actually Google these terms for keys- like seriously- "shank", say what?}
Second- Making the teeth of the keys. When you cut the shafts down to size, keep the extra and use it for the teeth.  Cut the little pieces of clay to the size you want, then cut them in half, length-wise. {See the third pic in a row, up above} Then lay them on top of the shank. Keep building them up to mimic the look of a key.

Third- Create the top of the key. I mimicked the shapes for the tops of the key without using any special tools. I stuck to a few knives, a screwdriver, and also I used the end of a pen to punch out circle shapes.
Fourth- I used a second block of clay to roll out some more snake -like pieces of clay to use for embellishments. I referred back to my inspiration keys a lot for these parts. Using a mixture of rounded embellishments and then others I flattened. Just let your imagination go.

Fifth- Getting ready to bake the keys. Preheat your oven for the directed temperature. I think each clay needs a different temp and amount of time. Placing the keys on parchment paper is recommended.
With polymer clay what you see when you put it into the oven is what it will look like when it comes out. So you want to make sure the shaft of the keys are perfectly straight for baking, the lines are straight and fingerprints are smoothed out.

Fifth- Bake it!

Now that they're all done, I sorta want to paint them!
If I could do anything differently, I would get a true white clay. Mine is  like a cream with some sparkles and shine in it. Now I am undecided whether to spray them white or oil rubbed bronze {although I DO like the look of clay- I think they look kind of sweet}.

Either way the clay is so easy to work with, you guys would find it a breeze to make something simple like keys! Thanks for stopping by!


  1. wow - what a fabulous idea. love how they all turned out...i'm inspired! xoox,tracie

  2. Wow! The detail on your Sculpey skeleton keys is absolutely exquisite!

    Your link-up caught my eye over at 504 Main. Beautifully done!

    Jenn/Rook No. 17

  3. This is terrific and you made it look so easy!
    Great tutorial!

  4. wow they look amazing thanks for sharing xxx

  5. So Impressive!!! I love anything "skeleton key". A unique idea for tree decor and I also love them placed out on the mirror in the final photo. Thanks for sharing!

  6. What a fantastic idea. Very creative!

  7. I found you via the Strut Your Stuff hop & am a new follower.

    I absolutely love this project. So simple and complex at the same time. Your blog is right up my alley and I will be back often for inspiration.



  8. Hi! I found you thru Funky Junk Interiors link party. These are genius! I'm your newest subscriber!

  9. What a fun project! Thanks for sharing, Laura

  10. Neat little keys and a great tutorial as ever Becca!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  11. I have a thing about keys. After Christmas I did look at some oversized keys at the discount stores but I am still too cheap to pay the asking price. LOVE your tutorial and I have a stash of poly clay.
    I know I will be attempting to follow along this winter.
    Thank you for sharing.

  12. These are really gorgeous! I just love your aesthetic - everything you make is beautiful. If I could steal anyone's style, I'd steal yours!

  13. Becca, I LOVE these! AMAZING. I love the look of the clay, too. <3

  14. Wow, I love your keays. You did an amazing job. I can't wait to try this one out. Thanks for linking up at So Very Creative. I featured this today!

  15. What a great idea using keys! So cute. Thanks for linking up to "Strut Your Stuff Saturday." We would love you to have you come back next Saturday and share more ideas. -The Sisters

  16. Cute idea- sharing it at tonights party~ thanks for linking up at Feathered Nest Friday! :)

  17. Great idea! I just love these! You're so talented! I'm visiting from French Country Cottage.

  18. I love this! I love skeleton keys, and have a huge package of clay with no intended use. I'm gonna have to try this.

  19. Thanks so much for linking this great project up to my weekly Pinterest party-I'm so happy you joined in!

    Best wishes for a great week,
    Natasha @ 5 Minutes Just for Me

  20. These are incredible- they look fantastic. Great job. Now I want some skeleton keys :)

    I used to have a bunch from my parents house but they disappeared on me. :/


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