How to Make Keychains (what you’ll need, where to get it & what methods to use)

So you spent hundreds of dollars on a bunch of the amazing shapes that ZINDEE has to offer. Or, maybe you’ve seen some of those super cute keychains and badge reels and you want to know how you can make them, too! Either way, you’re in luck! I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to make custom keychains with glitter, using the mod podge method and UV resin or epoxy! TIP: It doesn’t really matter in what order you do most of these steps. In other words, some prefer to do the vinyl first before adding glitter, to be sure the design is on the right side. Others prefer to do the glitter first because it’s the messiest part. Additionally, some add glitter on one side, and vinyl on the other; some layer the vinyl on top of the glitter, and others reverse the design, lay vinyl first, and layer the glitter on top. You may want to play around with the steps in different orders to see what works best for you.

What You’ll Need

Glitter

Spring for Zindee’s amazing glitter (trust me–you won’t be sorry) or start off a little more cautiously with a variety pack from Amazon. I started with the same glitter shown below and still use it while I build my Zindee collection.

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Decoupage, UV Resin & Epoxy

Decoupage (ie, Mod Podge) is good to have on hand for a variety of purposes, even if you choose to use the resin method for applying glitter. Epoxy is the cheapest option, but UV resin is the easiest and quickest. Below are my preferences for decoupage, UV resin, and epoxy (I’ve not used Zindee decoupage or epoxy, but they have been highly recommended by other users. My favorite products are Mod Podge, Qiao Qiao brand UV resin, and Alumilite Clear Cast Epoxy)

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Hardware & Other Tools

If you intend to make keychains, you’ll need some heavy duty jump rings and key rings. You may also choose to add tassels, charms, etc. If you’re using UV resin, you may wish to invest in a good UV lamp in case of weather disturbances. Mixing cups, stir sticks, silicone brushes, foam brushes–these will make your lives easier but are not necessities 🙂

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Glitter

Arguably the most important part of any craft project–who doesn’t love GLITTER!? I personally prefer to do glitter first because, well, it’s messy. It gets everywhere. They don’t call it “glitter herpes” for nothing. But also because sometimes it’s hard to tell what the glitter is going to look like on the blank until it’s actually on there, and that can change the design. Maybe there are black undertones that make the text harder to read. Maybe it shines a bit more than you thought, so you want to add a shadow or outline to bring out the design. There are benefits to doing glitter first. TIP: Before adding glitter, make sure you identify the front and back of your blank. Some shapes are symmetrical and it will not matter, but others it will. If you’re doing glitter on the back and vinyl on the front, you’ll want to make sure it’s on the right side.

Mod Podge Method

Step 1.

Peel off the brown paper or protective sheet on only the side you’ll be adding glitter to. As we’ve established, glitter is messy so trust me, you’ll want to leave that other side on.

Step 2.

Using a foam brush (or any brushing device, it doesn’t really matter all that much–foam brushes simply provide the best coverage, in my experience, with the least amount of streaks), apply a thin layer of mod podge or Zindee’s decoupage to the surface of the blank. You only need enough to cover the blank without any bare spots.

Step 3.

Place your acrylic blank on a paper plate or other clean, removable surface (you’ll want something to catch the excess glitter that will allow you to save it for future use).

Step 4.

Apply glitter liberally to completely cover the surface. Let it flow and let it sparkle! Just try not to get it on the baby… or the dog… not that I’ve done that, but it’s possible that my baby looks like he spent the night at a strip club at least 50% of the time. Just don’t go too crazy with the glitter.

Step 5.

Using your finger (you may want a glove or one of those little finger condom things that come with epoxy kits–those are fun) press the glitter into the decoupage, firmly but gently. Try to make sure it doesn’t shift. If the glitter shifts or lifts, just add a bit more to cover the bald spots.

Step 6.

Gently tap off the excess glitter onto your glitter-trapping device (paper plate, parchment paper, etc.) You may use it to repeat step 4, return it to the bottle or bag from whence it came, or toss it if you’re just rolling in glitter like that.

Step 7.

Wait for it to dry! I usually wait about 20 minutes, but that isn’t an exact approximation. You can peel the backing on the reverse side of your blank just enough to check for white spots. If it’s still white, it’s still wet. You’ll know it’s completely dry when all you see is glittery goodness in all it’s glory–and no white spots.

Step 8

Repeat steps 2-7 until desired coverage is reached. Usually 2 coats is plenty, but you may wish for more. With some colors like white, you may want to add a third or even fourth coat just to be sure.

Step 9

Once you’ve reached the desired glitter coverage, you’ll want to seal it using either UV resin or 2-part epoxy (there are other methods for sealing, but these are the two most preferred ways). You may find the steps for using each method below, as well as the pros and cons of each over the other. I personally much prefer 2-part epoxy, but UV resin is much quicker so it is usually my first choice. (TIP: when using UV resin to cover glitter following the mod podge method, you may find that the resin “shrinks” away from the sides upon sitting or curing. Just add a tiny bit more resin and pull it as closely to the sides as possible without spilling it over the edge. Let it sit before curing to see if it shrinks, and if it does, add just a tiny bit more until it’s completely covered. Alternatively, you can sand the edges so they won’t be rough to the touch)

Resin Method

Many people who use UV resin prefer mixing their glitter in with their resin instead of using the mod podge method. In my experience, the mod podge method provides better coverage and is less likely to “pop” off of the blank; however, the UV method is easier, quicker, and less messy.

Step 1

Step one begins the same as with the mod podge method, for obvious reasons. First decide which side it is that you want to add glitter, then peel the backing off of that side.

Step 2

In a plastic or silicone mixing cup, add just enough UV resin to cover your blank. Add glitter, a bit at a time, and stir. The mixture should be thick, nearly like a paste, but still thin enough to drip slowly from the stir stick or brush when held up. If you add too much glitter, it may not cure fully; if you add to little, you won’t achieve full coverage.

Glitter with Resin
Step 3

Apply the mixture to your blank, just as if you were sealing it. Pour in the middle and allow it to settle and spread, then carefully drag it to the outer edges, ensuring it doesn’t spill over the side.

Step 4

Check that the entire surface is covered and free of bubbles. You may use a lighter or small torch lighter and quickly heat the entire surface to rid any microbubbles. Then, let it sit for a minute or two and check that there are no more bubbles. Heat again if necessary.

Step 5

Once the blank is covered and bubble free, let it sit for a few minutes (3-5) to allow it to self-level. Make sure it’s resting on an even surface so it levels evenly. Then, set it under a UV lamp or in the sunlight to cure! (TIP: when using the resin method for applying glitter, you can usually add vinyl directly over the glitter layer without adding another coat of resin. However, there is no harm in adding a coat of clear resin over the glitter layer if it is too rough, bumpy, or uneven. You can also use this method with epoxy, though generally it’s preferred to use UV resin for mixing. To use this method with epoxy, you can add the glitter after the epoxy has been completely mixed)

Sealing

There are two preferred methods for sealing blanks, especially if you intend on selling them. We’re going to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each, as well as the steps for using them. Buckle in, because this may be a bumpy ride.

Two-Part Epoxy

Two-part epoxy is by-far the most reliable and superior method of sealing just about anything. It’s strong and effective, and provides a smooth, glass-like finish every time, assuming you measure and mix correctly.

Epoxy generally takes 12 hours to dry to-the-touch, meaning at that point you can usually begin working on the rest of your blanks but you can’t ship it or use it. Most epoxies finish curing fully in 24-48 hours.

Epoxy is also highly toxic. Although the fumes are usually odorless, they are still very dangerous to work with. You’ll ideally want to use them in a well-ventilated area (in the garage, or near an open window, etc.) and using full protective gear (including, but not limited to a full respirator with organic filter, protective gloves, and eye protection).

That said, it simply provides the best coverage and protection. If you use the appropriate protective equipment when using it, you’ll be fine.

Using Two-Part Epoxy All epoxy should come with a set of instructions and safety information. Read it. I’ve only ever used Alumilite Amazing Clear Cast 10590, 8 Oz of Clear Coating and 8 Oz of Casting Resin, and other brands may differ in mixing instructions, safety precautions, etc. But, the general use should be the same.

Step 1.

Measure part A and part B in equal amounts. To make 5mL of epoxy, use a disposable medicine cup or silicone cup and pour part A to the 2.5mL line. Let it sit for a few seconds to level out. Then pour part B in the same cup to the 5mL line, and let sit for a few seconds to level out to be sure the parts are measured equally. TIP: if your measuring is off, if you pour more A than B or more B than A, the result will be tacky and it will never fully cure. You will have to strip it and start over

Step 2.

Mix slowly and in every direction, being sure to also scrape the sides. When you see there are no more streaks (after about three minutes), you’ll want to continue stirring for an additional 3 minutes to make sure it is fully mixed. Generally, you’ll want to mix for a total of about 6 minutes to be safe. if your epoxy is under-mixed, you’ll get the same tacky result as with inaccurate measuring

Step 3.

Let it sit for 5-20 minutes. Most epoxies have a working time of 30-45 minutes, meaning after that time it will begin to harden and you won’t be able to spread it anymore. You want to let it sit just long enough to thicken so it won’t pour over the sides, but not so long that you won’t be able to work with it anymore. Letting it sit will also help reduce the number of bubbles. TIP: the more epoxy you mix, the faster it will begin hardening. If you only mix 5mL you can let it sit closer to 20 minutes, but if you mix 15mL you’ll want to use it sooner and stay closer to the 5 minute mark to ensure you have plenty of time to spread it evenly

Step 4.

Pour it slowly in the center of your blank. Start with a little; it’s easier to add more if you need it but impossible to take it off if you pour too much. You’ll learn through practice what the perfect amount to pour is, so err on the side of caution. TIP: keep the measuring cup! You can touch the inside of the cup to see if the leftover residue is dry–that way you can check the progress of your blank without messing it up!

Step 5.

With a silicon brush, or a popsicle stick, start with the center and slowly, carefully work the epoxy out to the outer sides. Drag it just to the edge but not over the edge, and if there’s a hole around the hole but not in the hole. You can use a light source to check for full coverage, making sure there are no bald spots.

Step 6.

If there are bubbles, you can use a lighter or torch–any kind of flame–and quickly run it over the blank. Don’t let it sit too long in one spot. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then check for bubbles again. You may have to torch it a couple times to get all the bubbles, or you may find that there are no bubbles at all. In my experience, I’ve rarely ever had bubbles when using epoxy.

Step 7.

Move it to a safe, dry place, away from small people and animals, dust and debris. It will need to sit for at least 8 hours before you can touch it, but usually closer to 12. Before that time, anything that touches it can impact the final result and you may find stray hairs, dirt, or smudges if it’s not left in a safe location away from interference. Never touch the blank until you’re sure it’s dry. When the residue in your measuring cup is hard to the touch, it’s most likely safe to check your blank. It takes 24-48 hours to cure fully, but as long as it’s hard to the touch and doesn’t smudge, you can start working on the other side.

UV Resin

UV resin has many of the same benefits as epoxy. It produces a hard, glass-like finish and protects the design from lifting, scraping, or damaging. UV resin requires no mixing and can cure within minutes when using direct sunlight or a UV light source such as a nail lamp or UV flashlight, etc.

UV resin is not as sturdy as two-part epoxy. It may separate from the blank more easily and is not as heat resistant (so not best to use on pieces that will be left outside, such as car coasters or vent clip pieces). However, UV Resin is much easier to work with, and less toxic (though the odors are stronger and you will still want to use protective equipment). You can’t use UV resin outside, in a garage, or near any kind of light source, until you’re finished working with it and ready to cure. Even some lamps may cause blanks to begin curing too early, so use caution.

Using UV Resin Using UV resin is much easier than two-part epoxy and has fewer steps. Basically, just pour, spread, set, and cure. But we’ll go step-by-step.

Step 1.

Use the nozzle on the bottle to pour a small amount of resin into the center of the blank. Again, you’ll want to start with a small amount to be sure it doesn’t spread and overflow. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away.

Step 2.

Using a silicone brush or popsicle stick, or other tool, carefully spread the resin from the center to the sides, dragging it just to the edge without going over, and being sure to go around the hole. I like to pour in the center, then drag it out all around the sides, and then fill in the rest, being sure there aren’t any bare spots. Use a non-UV light source to check for missed spots and bubbles.

Step 3.

Use any lighter, torch lighter, or flame to quickly pop any bubbles. Don’t let the flame sit too long in one spot or the resin will begin to cure too rapidly and it will burn, leaving weird shriveled spots. Just glide the flame over the entire surface, wait a few minutes, and repeat if necessary until all bubbles are gone. In my experience, UV resin can cause many more bubbles and microbubbles than 2-part epoxy, depending on the brand.

Step 4.

Let the blank sit for a few minutes. UV resin, like epoxy, is self-leveling, but because of the rapid cure time of UV resin, you have to allow it time to level before exposing it to the UV source. Give it about 5-10 minutes to get all even.

Step 5.

Apply UV light source to cure. To cure in the sun, you can let it sit in the window or on a table outside for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. The most popular method of curing UV resin is with a UV nail lamp with timed curing. I usually cure mine at 99 seconds once, than 60 seconds three times more, just to be sure it’s cured before I try touching it. TIP: when using a UV nail lamp, you may still want to leave your blank in a sunny spot for several minutes after curing, just to give it some extra time to cure completely.

Some Tips for Both Methods

1. One common problem when working with any kind of epoxy resin is keeping it from dripping over the sides. One thing you can do to save your blank in the event that it spills over the side is cover it in vaseline. It’s a bit messy, but I just rub a bit on the sides of the blank and the bottom, and perhaps a bit on the tray or surface where I leave my blank to cure. When the resin dries, anything left where it shouldn’t be will pop right off! You can also use liquid latex, but many are allergic to latex and it can possibly cause issues when gifting to friends and family or when selling.

2. Another problem is the keychain hole. It can be trickier to go around the hole than it is to go around the edges. One popular method for preventing closed holes is the use of these rubber plugs. Just stick them in the hole and you’re good to go! I dip mine in vaseline just to make my life easier, but it doesn’t make a huge difference.

3. Another option for the hole is just to go ahead and cover it and drill it out later. The plus side of this is that you can place the hole wherever you want it. Maybe you do the design upside down, or you decide it works better at an angle. Just fill in the hole and drill a new one wherever you want. This is the drill I have and I love it.n The drawback to this method is that sometimes if the resin isn’t fully cured or if you drill too close to the edge, the vinyl can lift or crack, which means you’ll need to repair it.

Finishing the Blank

The glitter is by-far my favorite part of any keychain project. But you’ll likely want to add something besides glitter to it, too. I’ll add more tutorials in the coming weeks on how to edit Zindee cut files, how to use print and cut on keychain blanks, badge reels, and magnets, and other fun stuff. For now, we’ll keep it simple with just a few more steps.

Step 1

Open or create your design. Zindee blanks come with their own cut files, perfectly sized for the shapes you order. Check out my tutorial on

Open or create your design. Zindee blanks come with their own cut files, perfectly sized for the shapes you order. Check out my tutorial on how to use Zindee files for instructions on how to download, extract, and upload Zindee files from the website into Cricut Design Space.

Step 2

Cut and place your design on the blank. Make sure you check which side you glittered against the design. If you glittered the wrong side and don’t want to layer your design on top of the glitter (sometimes it doesn’t stick as well), this is easily remedied by mirroring your design and putting it on the opposite side.

An easy tip for lining up the designs perfectly on your blank is to use parchment paper. Take a piece of parchment paper and place it on top of your blank. Then take your design (on the transfer tape with the backing removed, ready to be place d) and tape the transfer tape to your work surface just above the parchment paper. You should be able to see your blank through the parchment paper and move it around until the design lines up exactly where you want it. Then, carefully remove the parchment paper letting your design fall in place on your blank, smoothing out any bubbles.

Step 3

Once your design is placed and everything is the way you want it, you can seal the front side of your blank using whatever method you prefer according to the instructions above.

Creating keychains, badge reels, jewelry, and other gifts has made a huge impact on my life. It’s not only transformed my business but it’s helped keep me sane and sober through some of my most trying times in the last year; and it’s helped me help others along the way, through supportive conversations as well as through monetary donations made through my business. The act of creating is both therapeutic and transformative, and I believe that everyone has a creative voice inside of them. It’s up to you to find yours and let it out. And as always, if I can help I am glad to do so.

If you have any questions or comments about this post, please feel free to comment below or email me at emily@spiritrecovered.com.

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