How to Make Resin Keychains - The Ultimate Guide
When making keychains for yourself or to give to others, resin is a perfect medium to use. Resin keychains are smooth to the touch and pleasing to handle. Also, when mixed and cured correctly, 2-part epoxy is very strong and durable. It won’t mar or get scratched in a purse or pocket. Resin is lightweight and easy to carry. And there are almost countless options for mold sizes and shapes so you can cast the ideal keychain for any given purpose. You may need a large, odd-shaped keychain for the person who always loses everything at the bottom of a bag. Or a small globe for keys that are in a clothing pocket all day. It’s good to think about the functionality of a keychain first and then decide on the aesthetics.
Resin keychains are easy to personalize, so when it’s time for creative decisions you’ll have boundless options to make your keychains unique. You can vary the colors and opacity. You can add actual things to the resin like birthstone gem chips, shiny glitter, colored glass, and tiny charms. Truly, the sky’s the limit for resin keychain design options!
In this post I’ll tell you everything you need, and give you instructions to create several different resin keychain projects.
What You Need to Make DIY Resin Keychains
Here are the basic supplies you’ll need for making your own resin keychains. Specifics and additional materials may be added to the individual projects.
- 2-Part Epoxy Resin
- Alphabet Silicone Mold
- Mixing Cups (one for each color)
- Wooden Stirrers
- Colorants and/or Pigments
- Glitter and/or Other Inclusions
- Kitchen Scale
- Parchment Paper (can substitute wax paper)
- Nitrile Gloves
- Flat Surface
- Something to protect work surface
- Lots of Ventilation
- Large Split Rings
- Large Jump Rings (at least 8mm)
- Small Screw Eyes
- 2 Pairs of Flat and/or Needle Nose Pliers
- Drill or Dremel with a very small hole making bit (around 1/32 inch)
Making Resin Alphabet Letter Keychains
Resin letter keychains make excellent personalized gifts for just about everyone. You can make first name or last name initials, or even spell out a word. You can also use the letters and numbers to label your keys: “H” for House, “T” for Toyota, “S” for shed, etc. All you need to get started is a good quality silicone rubber alphabet mold, your regular resin supplies (see above), and keychain hardware. Alphabet molds usually have a full set of upper case alphabet letters plus all the numbers, 0 to 9. They are reusable and very versatile.
Although the letters are fairly narrow, there are still a lot of ways to embellish them. For example, you can add many kinds of pigments and glitter. Certainly, you can also add any inclusions that fit in the letter molds, like tiny shells, bits of mylar, and dried flowers. Below, I’ll show you how to make two easy and beautiful kinds of initial keychains. The first will be deeply dimensional two-color letters using holographic glitter, and the second will show you how to add dried flowers to resin to create stunning floral letters.
Determine How Much Resin to Mix for Letter Keychains
First, figure out the volume of resin you need for the entire alphabet mold using a kitchen or postal scale and water. If you’re using a scale that is smaller than the mold you will be measuring, find a tray or even a piece of stiff cardboard that will support the mold while you weigh it.
Set the tray and the mold on your scale. Turn on the scale if it’s electric, and then push tare to set your scale to zero. This is also called zeroing out your scale. With the mold and its support on the scale and the scale set to zero, begin pouring plain water into each letter cavity of your mold. You will see the weight measurement rise as you pour more water. When you have filled all of the cavities, read the final weight measurement. For my mold it was 247g.
This is the weight capacity for the entire mold, every letter. If I want to know how much one letter would be, divide the total weight by the number of cavities in the entire mold. My mold has 36 cavities so I divided 247 by 36. Which means the volume of each letter is approximately 7 grams. Since not all letters will have the same volume, like an “I” will hold considerably less than a “W”, round up or down according to the letter you’re casting. Decide how many letters you’ll be casting and multiply by the grams of water in each cavity to know how much resin to mix. So, for me to cast 10 letters, I multiply 7g x 10 letters and get about 70g of mixed resin. I then increase the total by about 10% to account for technical differences.
NOTE:Pouring water into the mold cavities gives you an approximate weight measurement that should be close enough for measuring the amount of resin you need. However, if you want a more exact figure, use an eyedropper to fill each each cavity in the mold. You can also use the eyedropper method to find out the exact volume of one particular letter, since they won’t all be identical.
When you’ve figured out how much resin you need to mix for your project, pour out all the water from the alphabet mold and let it dry completely.
PRO TIPS: I like to figure out how much resin I need for a mold well before I’m ready to cast to assure that my mold is 100% dry. Also, you can keep track of the water weights for each mold so you only need to do this procedure once per mold.
Making Holographic Resin Letter Keychains
Holographic glitter is a mixture of different shapes and sizes of glitter that when combined with resin and dried, gives a prism or holographic effect. You won’t see the full effect until you unmold your resin, but then each casting will be a sparkling surprise! Creating letters with holographic glitter makes for fabulous, shining resin keychains. Here’s how to do it:
Additional Supplies You Will Need for Holographic Letter Resin Keychains:
- Silicone Alphabet Mold
- 2 Contrasting Colors of Holographic Glitter (I’m using purple and blue)
- Optional: 3rd Pigment Color for Accents (I’m using pearl gold)
Now that you know how much resin you need, mix up a batch of 2-part clear epoxy with equal parts of resin and hardener. And, follow these steps below:
- Next, divide the mixed resin in half in two separate containers. (Add some clear mixed resin to the third container if you’re using an accent color.) Set aside for a couple of minutes to let the bubbles rise and pop. While you’re waiting, shake or stir the holographic glitter to disperse the large and small glitter evenly.
- Add one holographic glitter color to one portion of clear resin. Next, you’ll need to add enough glitter that the deepest areas are opaque. You’ll still see through the resin where the density is thin. In fact, this is okay and part of what creates the holographic effect. Then. repeat with the second holographic glitter color. Now mix your accent color, and wait for all portions to thicken and reach a molasses-like consistency.
- Pour a little glitter resin of one color on one side of a letter cavity. The molasses-like consistency will keep it from spreading to the other side. Then pour in some of the second holographic colors, starting at the other end. If you want a third color, add it to the gap in between the two holographic colors. If you’re using just two colors, keep adding a little more of each color until the gap is filled in. Once the colors touch, blend them gently with a toothpick. Then add more of each color, alternately, until the letter cavity is full. Repeat the filling procedure with each letter you plan to create until they are all full.
- With things considered, leave the mold undisturbed to cure overnight, covering it with a box if it’s outside. Curing time will vary with environmental conditions.
- When your letters are completely cured and glass-like, remove them by gently peeling back the mold from each edge and then popping the letter out from behind. Remove the letters slowly so you don’t accidentally tear the mold.
Now you have stunning holographic initials to make into keychains. I’ll show you how to add hardware below “How to Make Floral Letter Keychains”.
How to Make Floral Letter Keychains
Flower letter keychains are a gorgeous way to personalize initial keychains by adding dried flowers and foliage. These can be meaningful favorite plants and colors that you're ready to use, or you can dry your own flowers. Floral resin keychains are a beautiful way to show off and preserve even the most delicate flowers, and enjoy them everyday.
Notes on choosing dried flowers:
Make sure they will fit in the mold. Furthermore, you can use larger flowers if you’re pulling off petals and placing them individually. Remember that all sides of the flower or leaf will be visible, so make sure all angles look good.
Additional Supplies You Will Need for Floral Resin Keychains:
- Silicone Alphabet Mold
- Dried Flowers and Dried Foliage
- Optional: Bits of Glass, Glitter, or Gemstone
Mixed up HALF A BATCH of 2-part clear epoxy with equal parts of resin and hardener. Follow these simple steps below:
- When the bubbles have popped, fill each letter you’ll be casting halfway with the clear resin. Let the resin cure until it is very thick, but still sticky. Normally, I use a toothpick to test it. How long this takes will vary with environmental conditions.
- Get out your dried flowers, leaves, and other inclusions when the resin is ready. Using tweezers, place one item at a time in the sticky resin. Obviously, you can see that I also added some gold glass. Just like a bouquet, place your flowers in a pretty arrangement.
- Now it’s time to mix up the other half of the clear resin. As soon as the bubbles have settled out, fill the other half of each letter with clear resin. Pour slowly, giving time for the resin to flow into all the crevices of the flowers. You can use a toothpick to poke resin into deep areas if necessary.
- When each letter cavity is filled, leave the mold undisturbed to cure overnight, covering it with a box if it’s outside. Curing time will vary with temperature and humidity.
- After your flower letters completely harden and look like glass, remove them from the mold slowly so you don’t accidentally tear the mold.
How to Add the Keychain Hardware
Right now what we have are large, solid letter charms. In order to make these into sturdy keychains you will need to attach hardware.
Setting up your drill or dremel
First set up your drill or Dremel with your smallest bit. (You can also use a manual hand drill.) Try to come as close as you can to the size of your screw eyes. It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit though, you can always drill again if the hole is too small, or add extra epoxy if it’s too big.
Decide where to drill
If you’re not sure, hold the letter facing you and pick either the top center or the upper left. Make sure the place you're drilling is deep enough that the screw won’t poke through. Then hold the letter firmly in one hand, hold the drill in the other hand, and drill straight down. Drill only as deep as the length of the threaded part of the screw eye. Now insert a screw eye and test the fit. Adjust it if necessary.
Remove the screw eye, and repeat the drilling process for the rest of the resin letters. When all the letters are drilled, mix up a very small batch of resin. Use a toothpick to add a dot of the mixed resin to one of the drill holes. Then insert the screw eye into the epoxied hole. Set the letter aside to cure with the screw eye as vertical as possible. You can use tape to hold it in place if necessary. And repeat with the rest of the letters and allow the resin to cure fully before the next step.
After the resin is cured, the screw eyes will be permanent and you can add any keychain findings and hardware you want. Without doubt, the easiest process is to simply open one jumpring and add it to the screw eye. Then add a keyring (large split ring) and close the jumpring. You can get fancier by adding chains, clasps, etc., but the basic instructions are the same.
Making Photo Keychains with Resin
Photo keychains are pretty much the ultimate in personalization since you can encase photos of children, pets, special events, and so much more. The process for making photo keychains is very similar to making floral keychains, with a few important differences. Also, I've chosen to demonstrate with a mold that doesn’t require drilling.
Additional Supplies You Will Need for Photo Keychains:
- Translucent Silicone Mold with a Hole - Choose one that will fit your photo. Photo
- Mod Podge & Brush
- Permanent Marker
Prepare the Photo
After you’ve chosen your photo and mold, place the mold over the photo to get a good placement. Then draw a line around the base of the mold and set the mold aside. The shape you have drawn will be a little too large for the mold, so cut it out on the inside of your lines. Now see how the photo fits in the mold. And, cut off the part that interferes with the hole. Check for fit again and trim if necessary. There should be at least a little room around every edge.
When the fit is good, brush Mod Podge on one side of your photo to seal it. When the Mod Podge dries, repeat with the other side. Allow the Mod Podge to dry completely. Your photo is now prepped and ready.
Mix up HALF A BATCH of 2-part clear epoxy with equal parts of resin and hardener. Use a scale to get accurate measurements.
When the bubbles have popped, fill your mold halfway with the clear resin. When the resin is ready, get your prepared photo. Keep in mind that use tweezers to place your photo FACEDOWN in the sticky resin. In addition, press gently with the tweezers or a toothpick and center the photo. Let the clear resin cure long enough that it won’t mix with any added resin.
Now it’s time to mix up the other half of the epoxy resin with equal parts of resin and hardener. The resin in front of the photo has to be clear, but behind the photo can be either clear or any color you want. I made mine blue.
Fill the other half of your mold with resin. Then pour slowly over the back of the photo, giving time for the resin to flow into the corners of the mold. You can use a toothpick to poke resin into corners or deep areas if necessary.
When the mold is filled, leave it undisturbed to cure overnight, covering it with a box if it’s outside. Curing time will vary with temperature and humidity.
Lastly, remove your photo casting from the mold by gently peeling back the silicone from each edge and then popping it out from the back. Take extra care around the hole. Now all you have to do is add a jumpring to the hole, add a keyring (large split ring), and close the jumpring. Your photo keychain is now ready for keys.
Can I attach a key ring directly to the screw eye without a jump ring?
Absolutely. Your keychain won’t have quite as much movement, but it will be just as sturdy.
Do I have to use epoxy resin to secure the screw eye in the drill hole?
No. You can use any strong glue meant for non-porous surfaces.
Is it hard to make resin keychains?
Epoxy resin is easy to mix, easy to drill, and fun to experiment with. As long as you wear gloves, protect your work surface, and get out your supplies before you start to pour resin, making resin keychains is very easy. I recommend working on keychains in small batches to make the best use of resin’s “working time”.
How much does it cost to make resin keychains?
As with any new craft there will be a number of one-time or rare expenses, like silicone molds, glitter and dyes, and the resin itself. However, these items can be used for many, many projects. If you already have the basic supplies, making resin keychains is pretty cheap. The only additional items you’d need to buy are jump rings and the key rings themselves.
Examples: 16 ounces of resin costs $20.99 and will make about 5-6 dozen letters. The dyes go even further and cost pennies per project. The alphabet mold is reusable, so it is a one-time expense. The split rings to put your keys on start at about 30 cents each.
Can I fill my molds halfway with clear resin and come back another day to add flowers, photos, and other stuff?
Yes. First, let the resin cure in the molds and keep it in the molds until you’re all done with your project. Also, you may need to put down a very thin layer of newly mixed resin when you go back to your project, so items stay in place and don’t create air pockets. Then just fill the molds the rest of the way and let them cure as you would with any resin project.
Now You’re Ready to Make Resin Keychains
Resin keychains are a great project for people with all levels of resin experience. If you’re a beginning resin crafter, you can follow my directions exactly. If you’re more advanced, you can use this article for ideas and then get super creative. In a word, resin keychains are so easy to personalize you can make them for all of your friends and family and each one can still be unique. You may find that once you start making resin keychains, it’s so much fun that it’s hard to stop!