Monday, November 11, 2013


I can remember going through a phase, shortly after getting my driver's license as a teenager, where I had more key chains than actual keys on my key ring. As if that wasn't enough, my car was decked out with pink fuzzy dice that hung from the rear view mirror and my dashboard sported a hula dancer. Thinking of it makes me laugh now, but I can still remember the excitement of being able to drive my own car for the first time. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then, including my key chain collection and thankfully my car.

Anyways, for this DIY I decided to experiment with leather and came up with these painted leather key chains. Leather is surprisingly easy to work with and I was able to make both key chains in about 30 minutes. This project would be perfect for quick holiday gifts for friends and family and it can easily be customized by substituting colored leather or by painting different designs other than the geometric/striped design I used here. How cute would monogrammed key chains be?

• scissors
• leather scrap
• rotary leather punch
• key ring
• rivet setter
• silver or gold rivets
• wooden mallet
• paint

1. Begin by deciding what size you would like your key chain to be and cut a leather strip to the desired length. For the small key chain pictured above, I used a strip of leather that measured approximately .75" wide and 6" long. For the larger key chain, I use a leather strip that measured approximately 1" wide and 5" long. (For simplicity, the rest of this DIY is for the small key chain, but you can easily recreate the larger key chain by modifying the steps as you go.)

2. Next, fold the leather strip around the key ring and using a pen, mark where the rivets will be placed: one near the base of the key ring and one at the opposite end.
3. Using the rivet setter, punch two holes in the leather strip using your pen marks as a guide. To determine what size holes to make, look at the base of your rivets and choose a setting approximately the same diameter.
4. Fold the leather strip in half again and use the two existing holes as a guide for where the second set of holes should be on the other side of the leather strip. Mark the leather and punch two more holes, making sure that the holes line up when the leather strip is folded in half. When you're finished it should look like picture 4 shown below.

5 & 6. Folding the strip in half, place a rivet through the first set of holes and snap the back into place.
7. On an even, steady surface, place the leather strip at the center of the rivet setter and use a wooden mallet to firmly strike the rivet into place. Add a rivet to the second set of holes and repeat for the second rivet. (Note: I used a stack of magazines to help protect my workspace from being damaged, otherwise I would suggest doing this on a table you don't care about!)
8. Finally, add a key ring and you're good to go! Although the paint is optional, I highly suggest adding a fun design using acrylic paint. I found it easiest to work in layers, since the leather tends to absorb some of the paint. For the neon yellow and pink, I diluted a small amount of paint with water to create a "base" for my design. Once that dried, I added a few coats of regular paint on top to brighten things up. The metallic paint seemed to cover the leather more easily, so I went ahead and started painting without diluting it first.

Photography, design an styling by Jessica of SAS + ROSE.


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