The Skeleton Key to My Heart


One of the best things in life is a good skeleton key.  These keys are utterly intriguing to me.  So you can imagine my excitement when I found a small pile of old keys at a yard sale this past summer.  They were going for $5, but I asked the man if I could have them for $3 and he agreed.  I would have paid $10!

I had an old shadow box that I bought from another yard sale for 50 cents.  I kept it for a while not knowing what I was going to do with it, but when I found the skeleton keys I knew I wanted to put them in a place of honor.

I took an ordinary piece of corrugated cardboard and cut it to the size of the inside of the shadow box.  Then, using rubber cement, I adhered book cloth to the cardboard.

I chose some of my favorite keys and placed them in different arrangements on the cardboard.

I chose my favorite alignment (the last one) and took a picture of it so I could remember where all the keys were supposed to go.  I took a pin and punctured a few holes near each key for the thread to go through.  Don’t be fooled by the picture.  I did it while the keys were still on.  After I was done punching the holes, I took all of the keys off.   Then, using clear nylon thread and going through the pre-punched holes, I tied one loop around the neck of each key and knotted it in the back of the cardboard.

Even with this close-up shot, it’s hard to see the thread.

Next, I mixed a brownish-black color with acrylic paints, and painted the shadow box.

Once dry (acrylic paint dries in minutes), I glued the cardboard/keys to the back panel of the shadowbox, and slid the glass into place.

Here’s the final outcome!  It was really easy, and didn’t take long at all.  And the total cost?  $3.50!

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About Melody

My name is Melody Martin. Check out my art blog, and learn all about the steps and techniques that go into oil paintings.
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3 Responses to The Skeleton Key to My Heart

  1. Easten says:

    That is so cool!

  2. Danielle Hoet says:

    i love those little keys! So what exactly IS a ‘skeleton key’?

    • Melody says:

      I found this definition on answers.com: “A skeleton key (or passkey) is a very simple design of key that usually has a cylindrical shaft (sometimes called a shank) and a single, minimal flat, rectangular tooth or bit.”

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