DIY Jewelry Tutorial: How to Make a Necklace with a Skeleton Key and Beads
I love repurposing unexpected items into beautiful jewelry pieces. When I found that my Dad had a bunch of old skeleton keys, I couldn't wait to find a way to use them to make something new. A recycled skeleton key can become the perfect centerpiece to hang combinations of beads and trinkets to create a uniquely stunning necklace. This is a surprisingly easy project if you are familiar with using pliers and jewelry making supplies.
Although I used an old skeleton key, you can buy new decorative keys at most craft stores and online. Beads and jewelry hardware are also available in craft shops and online.
Materials for Making a Skeleton Key Necklace with Beads
- necklace chain to hang your key from - the length of chain depends on how long you want your necklace to be. I used a chain with some beading detail, but you can also use a plain chain.
- a closing clasp - if your necklace chain does not already have one.
- a skeleton key - my key is an actual key, but more decorative keys are available at craft stores. I also used another small key to hang from my necklace.
- beads - you can use a mix of small and larger beads, or use all the same beads.
- jump rings - to use to put your necklace together. When buying your jewelry supplies, you may want all your hardware to have the same finish (gold, silver, brass) for a unified appearance.
- head pins - these pins come in assorted lengths. I always buy the longest ones I can find. You can always cut them down in length if you need to.
- a good pair of needle nose pliers and wire cutters
- (optional) small jewelry items or trinkets to hang from your key - I used a small metal star and figure to mix in among my hanging beads, but you could add a small lock or heart pendant if you want.
- (optional) a piece of bendable wire (about 8 inches long) - this can be twisted between your hanging pieces to keep them from sliding along your key. You can also use a strip of fabric, a piece of yarn, or some embroidery floss.
Directions for Making a Skeleton Key Necklace
1. The first step in creating your skeleton key necklace is to make the beaded fringe pieces that will hang from the key. Using your head pins, start to stack your beads on each pin, leaving at least about a 1/2 inch at the top of the pin bare. You will need this space to form a loop.
Your choice of beads will really create the appearance and theme of your necklace. For instance, you can choose dark colored beads to create a Goth look for your necklace, or a mixture of colors and materials for a more bohemian look. Adding pieces of household or hardware items can create a Steampunk theme for your necklace. I suggest staying away for large beads or heavy items as they will make your fringe pieces wider and crowded, and they might not hang straight from your key.
I made an odd number of fringe pieces with a central piece that was longer, but you can make as many fringe pieces as you want as long as they will all fit along the length of your key. You can attach other jewelry items like small pendants to your head pins using jump rings. I hung a small key from my center fringe piece, but you could also use a small lock or pendant. To hang these items from your fringe, make a small loop with your pliers at the bottom of one of your head pins. Then use a jump ring to attach your decorative item to your fringe. You can place your beads along the remaining length of your head pin.
2. Next, using your wire cutters, trim any excess length from your beaded head pins so you only have about 1/2 inch of bare wire. Use your needle nose pliers to create a loop at the top of each piece of beaded fringe.
Note: If you've never made a loop with needle nose pliers, you may want to have some extra head pins handy to practice with before starting with your fringe. A few practice pieces will help your learn the best way to form your loop.
3. Now attach each piece of fringe to the shaft of your key using jump rings. Open each jump ring enough to slide your fringe on and fit it around your key. To open each jump ring, push back on one side of the opening while holding the other side steady with your pliers.
When you close your jump rings, make sure the gap is completely closed so your fringe does not fall off.
4. (Optional) Take your piece of bendable wire, fabric, or string and tie or twist it around one end of your key. I twisted my silver wire around and through the handle end of my key. If you are using wire, be sure to tuck in the end so it does not catch on your clothing.
Once the end is attached, wrap your wire or string along the length of your key, capturing each fringe loop in one of the twists of your wire. With each wrap of your wire or string, you want to secure your piece of fringe against the length of the key so it won't slide back and forth as you move. When you reach the end of the key shaft, make a few more wraps or tie off your material to secure the end.
If you are using wire or thin string, you can thread small beads on your material as your wrap it along your key. This will add some additional detail and color.
5. The last step is to attach your chain to your necklace using more jump rings. On the handle end, you can attach your chain either to the handle or to the length of the key. On the other end, attach your chain along the key shaft before the head of the key.
You may need to shorten your necklace chain to get the right length. You can use your wire cutters to cut your chain. Use your needle nose pliers and jump rings, if necessary, to attach your clasp to your necklace chain.
Your finished necklace will be a unique and personal piece of jewelry that your should be proud to wear and display.
Copyright © 2016 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.