How to Make Your Own Bead Animal Keychain
Making bead animals was one of my favorite craft projects growing up (and I loved crafts). Though I was fond of making lizards in particular, you could pick any animal and decide which color, shape, and size it will be. Plus, you get to work with those awesome little multi-colored pony beads. What isn't to love?
With the skills taught in this article—and a bit of imagination—you'll be able to make any animal you like!
An Important Note About Safety
While this is a great project to do with any children in your general vicinity, it's important to note that you'll be working with a lot of very small pieces that are not safe for tinier children. They tend to try to eat those sorts of things.
Materials and Supplies
- Pony beads (these will be the building blocks for the animal you choose)
- Plastic lacing (to string together the beads to form the animal)
- Key ring, lanyard clip, or carabiner (this will be the starting point of your bead animal)
- Scissors (to cut the plastic lacing when needed)
- Tape (to secure the key ring, lanyard clip, or carabiner to the table before you begin working)
- Measuring tape or ruler (to measure out the length of lacing you will use)
All these items can be purchased for under $6. I recommend checking out your local dollar store or looking on sites such as Amazon.com for lower prices. For the plastic lacing, you can also typically buy about 100 yd (91 m) for a couple dollars at most craft stores. For the pony beads, a safe bet is to get a of assorted pony beads you know has the colors you'll need. 1 lb. bag
Points to Consider Before You Begin
- Which animal will you be making? I recommend planning in advance which creature you'll make and how many colored beads you will need.
- What color(s) do you want your animal to be? Make sure these colors are included in the package of pony beads you buy.
- Do you want to use plastic lacing? Although this guide will teach you how to make a lizard using plastic craft lacing, any type of thick string would do the trick. It's important to keep in consideration how durable the string will be over time and with wear and tear.
- Will you be using a key ring, lanyard clip, or a carabiner for this project? Remember, this will serve as the base for your key chain.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Making Your Bead Lizard
For each numbered step here, you'll see a corresponding image in the graphic below.
Tie the Lacing to the Clip
1. Take your measuring tape or ruler and measure out 6 ft (1.8 m) of plastic lacing. This measurement does not need to be exact. Once measured, cut the length of plastic lacing and set the spool aside.
2. Thread the lacing through the lanyard clip (or key ring or carabiner—whichever you chose).
3. Pull the lacing through the lanyard clip until you're holding both ends of the strand in one hand and the lanyard clip with the lacing caught in it in your other hand. Keeping both strands together, make a knot in the lacing and move it up as close as you can to the lanyard clip.
Add the First Row of Beads
4. Take a piece of tape and secure the lanyard clip to the table or whichever flat surface you have. Be careful that the tape won't be removing any paint from that surface.
5. Once you've decided which colors you want your lizard to be, pick up one bead of the main color. This is the color the majority of your lizard will be (i.e., the head, legs, tail and most of the body). Put this bead onto the left strand of lacing.
6. Take the right strand of lacing and thread it through the same bead, but in the opposite direction as the left strand.
7. Pull both strands of lacing until the bead is pushed upward toward the lanyard clip.
8. Pull both strands tightly, pushing the bead snugly against the knot beneath the lanyard clip.
Start the Second Row
9. Now to start the second row. Take two more main color beads and string them onto the left lacing strand.
10. Take the right strand and thread it through both beads, but in the opposite direction as the first strand. Just as you did with the first bead, take a lacing strand in each hand and pull until the two beads are snug against the single bead in the row above them.
11. Take three beads of the main color and thread them onto the left lacing strand. Repeat the process until these three beads are snug against the two beads in the row above them. Be sure to keep them in a straight line.
Complete the Eyes and Head
12. Next, decide which color you want the lizard's eyes to be. Take one eye bead and thread it onto the left lacing strand. Then take two main color beads and thread them onto the same strand. Finally, take one more eye bead and add it on to the strand. Repeat the steps above until these four beads are snug against the three in the row above them.
13. To complete the head, add three more rows of main color beads—four, three, and then two, in that order—all the while making sure the rows are kept as closely together as possible.
Begin Creating Limbs
14. Take eight of the main color beads and string them onto the left strand of lacing.
15. Slide the beads to the middle of the strand. Take the end of the strand and—skipping the three beads closest to the end—thread it back through the final five beads.
16. Keeping a hold on the end of the strand, move those last five beads toward the head you just made.
17. Keeping the group of five beads in a horizontal line with the last row of the lizard's head, use your other hand to pull the end of the strand so that the three loose beads are pulled closer to the group of five beads.
18. Continue pulling the strand's end until the three beads on the end are tight against the row of five.
19. Take another eight main color beads and repeat steps 14 through 18 using the right strand of lacing.
Begin Beading the Lizard's Back
20. Going back to the first set of procedures, take three main color beads and string them onto the left strand of lacing. Then thread the right strand of lacing back through the entire row of beads as you did before. Continue until the row of three beads is flat against the two beads at the bottom of the head.
21. Now add five more rows, each with three beads in it. However, if you would like a stripe down the lizard's back, replace the center bead in each row with a new color. If you want the lizard's body to be a solid color, use only main color beads for each row.
Complete the Body
22. Finish the body by adding a final row of three beads, all of the main color. Next, repeat the steps from above to create a left and right leg using eight main color beads for each limb.
23. Once both legs are completed, add a row of two main color beads, pulling it snugly against the last row of the body above it. Now, add 10 rows, each with a single main color bead in them. This forms the tail.
Knot and Add Finishing Touches
24. Make a knot tight against the bottom bead of the tail.
25. Keeping the two strands of plastic lacing together, make a knot and move it as close to the last bead as you can before pulling it tight. Feel free to double knot the lacing to make sure it doesn't come undone.
26. Once you're confident the knots are nice and tight, cut the loose the extra lengths of lacing.
27. Last but not least, peel off the tape and pat yourself on the back! You just made a lizard out of beads!