Medieval Key and Plate
Learn how to make this medieval key and plate from plastic foam. Project by Kristy McNeil.
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Materials and Tools:
1/2" x 12" x 36" sheet
1" x 6" x 12" block
five 1-1/2" balls
10mm length ball-tip pins
ball peen hammer
1" sponge brush
hot glue gun and glue sticks
16" x 20" Collections shadowbox
fine grit sanding sponge
Beacon Foam Finish
wood craft stick (to stir with)
1" flat bristle brush
#12 flat paint brush
Beacon Hold the Foam glue
Versa Tool creative heat tool: knife, straight tips
Fiskars Shape Cutter or mat knife
flat-head straight pins or toothpicks
Sophisticated Finishes: Instant Iron, Instant Rust, clear primer
1. Attach the knife blade tip to the heat tool and plug it in.
2. Using the Shape Cutter (or mat knife) with a cutting mat underneath it, cut out the patterns labeled A through D. Be sure to cut out the black areas from each pattern.
3. Pin each pattern (labeled A through D) to the 1/2-inch-thick sheet of foam.
4. Cut out each shape with the heated knife blade. See tips below for more about how to cut foam with the heated blade.
5. Mark a 1" x 7" rectangle on the 1" x 6" x 12" block of foam with the permanent marker and ruler. Score these lines with the heated knife blade; then break off the piece. Do not worry about a little roughness on the cut sides. Set aside to use later.
6. Unplug the heated tool and let it cool.
7. Flatten the small foam piece that was pattern D to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use the hammer to tap the piece until it is flat enough.
8. Glue the flattened foam piece that was originally pattern D around the keyhole on the key plate.
9. Create a pitted look on the foam piece that was pattern C. This will be the key plate. Use the ball end of the hammer and tap all over the key plate.
10. Make sure the tool has cooled before handling it. Attach the straight, blunt tip to the tool, plug it in, and allow it to heat for a few seconds.
11. Melt holes in the foam key plate with the heated straight tip. Refer to the key plate pattern (labeled C) as a guide to melt holes in the foam where the circles are on the pattern. They do not have to be exactly placed. When melting the holes, be sure to remove the heated tip quickly. The hole will continue to grow larger after the tip is removed. Note: The key plate is now ready to be covered. Set it aside while you assemble the key.
12. Using your hands or a book, crush four of the 1-1/2-inch-diameter foam balls to about 1/4-inch thickness. Crush the last ball just until flat on each end. It should be about twice as thick as the flattened balls.
13. Create a cylinder shaped piece of foam: Bring back the 1" x 7" piece of foam cut in step 4. Break a piece from the scrap 1-inch-thick block of foam. Use the scrap piece to sand away the corners of the rectangle.
14. Next, place a sanding sponge in one hand and grip the rectangle. Steady the rectangle on the table with the other hand. Slide the sanding sponge up and down until a cylinder shape is formed.
You may also sand in a twisting motion around the foam piece to help round it..
15. To assemble the key: Apply glue to one end of the foam cylinder. Add one of the four flat balls. Apply glue to the flat ball and add another. Insert a straight pin or a toothpick to help secure the pieces.
16. Continue this gluing and pinning process to attach the semi-flat ball, then the other two flat balls. Glue the thinner flat edge of the foam key lock (pattern B) piece to the opposite end of the cylinder. (Refer to photos of finished piece).
17. Allow these glued pieces to dry for about two hours, or until the glued balls have set up firm enough to support the foam key top (previously pattern A). Glue and pin the key top to the ball and cylinder assembly. Allow this assembled key to dry completely before proceeding. Place something such as a book underneath the key top while the key is drying to keep the pieces from separating.
18. You're ready to cover the entire key and key plate with Foam Finish. Place the foam pieces on paper plates. Stir up the Foam Finish in a bowl with a craft stick until it is a flowing mixture. Pour some of the mixture on the pieces and spread with a paintbrush. Continue this process until you do not see any uncovered foam. Allow all pieces to dry thoroughly. Check the pieces periodically for drips. Use a paintbrush to spread them out.
19. Inspect the dry pieces and determine if more Foam Finish is needed. You may allow a little texture to remain. The paint finish will cover some holes. Sand any drips that you may have missed with sandpaper.
20. Apply a coat of clear primer/sealer to each piece. Allow it to dry.
21. Apply a coat of Instant Iron to each piece. Allow them to dry to touch. Apply more coats until the pieces are covered in a solid layer of Instant Iron paint. Wait 24 hours before proceeding to allow the paint to cure.
If you want a more brown color, continue adding more coats of Instant Rust until the desired effect is achieved.
23. Disassemble the shadowbox. Paint the mat, frame, and the inside edges that will be seen of the cardboard shadowbox insert with any paint you like. To get the look shown, use craft paint such as Folk Art craft paint in Linen.
24. Dry brush the frame with some brown paint such as Folk Art Asphaltum. Allow the pieces to dry.
25. Prepare the fabric background. Lay the heavy cardboard back of the shadowbox on the fabric of your choice. Draw around the cardboard with a pencil. Cut out the rectangle.
26. Unfold the cardboard shadowbox insert. Spray a light coat of adhesive on the cardboard; then attach the fabric. Reassemble the cardboard insert by placing the tabs back into the slots. Allow the adhesive to dry before proceeding.
27. Frame the key and key plate: Place the shadowbox insert face up on the table. Place the mat on top of cardboard box. Arrange the key and plate how you like them. Secure them with plenty of hot glue.
28. Once the hot glue has completely dried, place the glass and frame over the mat and shadow box insert. Add the frame. Flip the entire assembly backside up and add the heavy cardboard backing. Secure with the metal clips. Hang with a picture hanger and enjoy your antiques!
Use the heated tool in a ventilated place and/or wear a fume mask. While harmless, the fumes can be irritating.
Be sure to sit the heated tool on a proper stand. It gets very hot.
If the tip on the tool becomes loose, use pliers to tighten it.
For clean cuts, place books or scrap foam under the foam to be cut. This will allow the knife blade to slide through the back of the foam easily.
Practice cutting with the knife blade on the 1/2-inch-thick sheet of foam. You will have a lot of extra left over.