diy project: kate’s uncommon valentine

valentine’s day is right around the corner, and i’ve decided to make something for my boyfriend that is a little unconventional and can last beyond the holiday. i used some vintage jewelry pieces (read: ugly eighties earrings), and some other knick-knacks I have collected over the years. for a personal touch i also included a few souvenirs from our times together (you are either smiling or gagging right now, i know). I recommend using a monochromatic palette for this project because I think the image come across more clearly, but if you have some pieces you don’t want to mess with then I encourage you to lay out your image first before you paint anything. the great part is that you can do any shape you wish, or even play around with text. happy crafting, and happy valentine’s day! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions!

What You’ll Need:
1. one sheet of watercolor paper, any size you want (this is 11×15)
2. vintage jewelry pieces, knick-knacks, keys, buttons, etc.
3. paper punch (i used a butterfly punch from the martha stewart craft collection) (optional)
4. colored paper
5. hot glue gun
6. paint (i recommend spray paint)
7. frame

1. gather your pieces and make any paper punched shapes you want so you have all of your materials ready.
2. lay out your design on the paper. if you are not comfortable with freehand layout, sketch the shape on scrap paper and lay it down as a template. you can also trace it very lightly so you can erase it.
3. if you decide to paint everything, i recommend taking a digital photo of your layout so it will be easy to place back together.
4. paint your objects. if you use spray paint, do it outdoors on a piece of cardboard.
5. once dry, replace all your objects on the paper in your design and make sure your image is set out evenly on the paper.
6. pick up one object at a time and dab glue on the back. place back down and clean off any hot glue strands. you can also use a hairdryer to make them disappear (it works!).
7. once dry, frame your piece.
8. write a love note in the corner or on back of the piece and expect a great response for your beautiful work.


  1. Teresa says:

    So lovely, I have so many useless keys at home. Will try to pick this idea to make a nice decoration.

  2. Savannah says:

    I love, love this.
    I am making this as an anniversairy gift (4 years :)
    I am going to take poster board covered in hand made paper, and then frame it in a deep frame, I may have the frame silver. Not quite decided. And I wrote a ‘key to my heart’ poem for him.

  3. JB says:

    I found this lovely yellow crane hanging on a stop sign on my street today and just wanted to say how lovely it is and how wonderful of someone so creative to do such a random act of kindness. I shared it with my friends at coffee this afternoon and now they will be looking for one. Thank you for sharing….(:

  4. Brie says:

    Beautiful! I just made one like this in a shape of an A. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  5. This turned out beautifully. I love it. I’m putting it in my idea file for future reference!

  6. emily says:

    Your project is so cute and fun! This would be cute for other seasons special days or even initials!
    Thanks for sharing! :o)

  7. Gissell says:

    This is gorgeous & perfect for any holiday or special occassion…i cant wait to try this!!!

  8. Lindsey says:

    Thank you so much for the inspiration! I used this as a decoration in my guest bathroom. Love it!

  9. I finally got around to attempting this–not as pretty as yours, but it was fun. :) I went with the shape of the state of Georgia (which is far less recognizable than a key!), but I think next time I’ll try a heart. thanks again for the inspiration.


  10. Julie says:

    What a great idea for turning little knick-knacks into a beautiful collage! I love the key shape and it sounds so easy!

    I wanted to let you know that I featured your key idea on my blog post about how to incorporate keys in home decor, with a link back (of course). Thanks for sharing!

  11. Dani Marie says:

    Love this & just wanted to let you know I included it in my Ultimate Valentine’s Guide!

  12. Megan says:

    What kind of frame did you use for this? Did you keep the glass in?! Please let me know I love this and I’m planning on making one that says love with s m in it for me and my fiancée love it wonderful job!


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