Beaded keychains are a great craft to keep young hands busy. They make great gifts for family members or can be used to help personalize sports bags and backpacks, making them easily stand out in a crowd.
Start with keychains inspired by this bead and button keychain using softflex wire. These keychains are quick and easy to make for any age group and fit any purpose. Have kids make one for the house key and an extra one for a zipper pull on their backpack. They can be made using hemp cord, jewelry wire like softflex or craft wire.
Bead and Wire Keychains
Don’t worry if you don’t have any buttons for a keychain project. Beads and wire make great keychains too. Simply substitute these materials in the previous project tutorial. It’s also a great way for aspiring jewelry makers to learn how to make wire wrapped loops, since the technique is the same, but nothing about these wraps has to be perfect.
The only tools you will need are wire cutters. For wire, try to find 20-22 gauge to make sure your keychain will last, but the wire is easy to bend without tools.
Melted Pony Bead Keychain
Pony beads are a staple of kids crafts–but this project takes the novel approach of melting them instead of stringing them. Plastic pony beads melt quickly in the oven to form a hard plastic disk when they cool. In this example, pony beads are melted in silicone muffin cups, which makes them easy to remove once the disks have hardened. It also gives the edges a delightful scalloped shape. One side of the disk is shiny and the other is matte, so you get the best of both worlds. Be sure to melt the plastic in muffin tins that you are no longer using for food. Drill a hole in the plastic disk and add a keychain finding to complete the project.
Other Melted Plastic Bead Keychains
Pony beads may melt the quickest, but there are plenty of other plastic beads that can be melted and used for keychains, or even ornaments. Perler beads and clear plastic beads are two other types that I tried. The larger plastic beads can take up to 25 minutes to melt, but this disk made of crackly clear beads is one of my favorites.
You can experiment melting different plastic beads using muffin tins in a 400 degree oven. They can also be melted on an old baking sheet on parchment paper as long as they will stay in place. In all cases, be safe and use old pans that are no longer used for food–just in case the plastic sticks or forms a residue on the pan. Check the melting beads frequently to be sure they are not burning or causing fumes, and do this with the windows open. They can also be melted outdoors on the barbecue or in a toaster oven.
Beaded Animal Keychains
These simple woven keychains have been a staple of camp crafts and scout groups for ages. They are typically made using plastic pony beads, but the pony bead patterns can just as easily be used with other sizes of beads, such as the smaller size 6 glass beads for a more mature and refined look. That makes this craft perfect for elementary school all the way up to high school.
Follow the tutorial below to make this beaded lizard or find other great patterns for pony beads that aren’t limited to animals. You will find fruit, popular cartoon and video game characters, or shapes such as hearts, stars and flags.
Anthropologie Inspired Beaded Tassel Keychain
Tassels make great keychains–especially when you add beads for decoration and weight. Tassels are simple to make and can be made from cord, yarn, suede, leather or any other similar material. When you are planning your tassel keychain, make sure you take into account how often you use the keys to find a material that will withstand the amount of wear and tear your keychain will go through.
Fuse Bead Keychains
Fuse beads are arranged into patterns on a peg board and secured in place by ironing the beads. They melt together to form a single piece of plastic.
Keychains are a natural use for the plastic disks. You don’t even have to drill a hole after melting. Just leave a single bead out of the pattern near the edge to slip a large jump ring or key ring into place.
Kids will love the wide variety of colors that fuse beads are available in, plus now they are available in two different sizes. The smaller size fuse beads allow older children to make more complex patterns.