The KEY to Living Green: Unlock new treasures with old keys

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repurposed old keys

Everyone has at least one or two of them; old keys to some forgotten lock on a door, perhaps in a house passed through on the journey of life. Or maybe keys to desk drawers long gone, cars, cabinets, etc.

A small part of Dad's keys and YES! those ARE keys to my first car - A Buick Skyhawk circa 1982- long gone!

A small part of Dad’s keys and YES! those ARE keys to my first car – A Buick circa 1982 – long gone!

Then there’s my dad who never saw an old key he didn’t feel badly about throwing away. He often went as far as to grab his favorite pen – a black felt-tip marker – to label them so that  anyone else in the house wouldn’t get confused about using them. I guess in a way, some of those keys held a bit of sentimental value for him.

These keys were a very small part of all the keys we uncovered after he passed away; and because the “apple rarely falls far from the tree,” I do the same thing – well sort of. I don’t label them. If I toss them into the jar, then I know they’re no longer used for their carved out, intended purpose.

So, here’s my collection of keys. I have all types, all sizes.  Some new, some old like those fabulous skeleton keys; there’s something very sexy and charming about them.  It’s as if they’re calling out to me, waiting for a bright idea to turn them into a new treasure.

Keys, keys and more keys!

As it happened, last month my 13-year old twin nieces Olivia & Isabella were visiting from Massachusetts. As most young teenaged girls, these two are into all things hip, posh, mod, cool, trendy … need I say more? The girls – that is my sister, Livie-Loo and Bella-Boo, my mom, my daughter and I are out hitting all our favorite shopping haunts when the (here comes another nickname I have for them) the Wee-Willy Winkies saw and wanted to buy some pretty cheesy necklaces made using plastic keys. “STOP!” says this re-purposing queen, I can make them better, rebuild them, make them stronger … oops, that’s the 6-Million Dollar Man thing … sorry.

Isabella & Olivia

Isabella & Olivia

How To . . .

And that folks is how I dove right into that jar old old keys. First I asked the girls to choose 3 keys each. I then pulled out all the old odd bits and pieces of old costume jewelry, charms, doo-dads, knick-knacks and what-nots. I have a ton of this stuff as I just love letting my imagination go to create new jewelry, pieces of art, wine glass charms or whatever else comes to mind.

Old clip-on earrings ... ouch!  Who wears these anyway?
Old clip-on earrings … ouch! Who wears these anyway?


Charms and a whole lot of other stuff!

Charms and a whole lot of other stuff!


Small porcelain flowers used somewhere on another project.

Small porcelain flowers used somewhere on another project.

Having made their choices, I set about to make their new necklaces. The only other thing needed is a very strong 2-part epoxy glue, the kind you mix together to create a glue with amazing strength and bonding power.  The key here – pun intended – is to let that glue dry overnight every time you apply it.

Let the creating begin!

Let the creating begin!

One by one, I began adding the the elements to the keys and voila! These old keys make for some pretty voguish jewelry and I can’t wait to send these to my Winkies!

Final Creations!

Final Creations!


Here I put the key onto a ball chain.  you can use any chain to your liking, at any length.

Here I put the key onto a ball chain. you can use any chain to your liking, at any length.

But read on my Greenie friends … so many other clever ideas for all those keys cluttering your junk drawer.

In keeping with the jewelry theme, this way funky necklace came from an antique store selling some pretty nifty things. This would be SO easy to make as well – and there’s NO glueing! (Unless you want to, of course) A chain, several jump rings, keys and whatever else tickles your fancy! A pair of piers and let your imagination take you there!Keys and a few other knick-knacks make for a pretty cool necklace.

Using smaller keys like those from a small antique desk of even a child’s dairy, try making earrings. Even if the keys don’t match perfectly, by using the same embellishments you’ll create earrings that are unique and most of all fun!


This teapot wind chime came from Bridget at Butter Nugget Creations. Like me, she saw one of these using spoons instead of keys at a cute neighborhood store and said, “Sure, I can do that!”  She also added an old bell to create that soothing clinking sound whenever the keys hit it. She snatched-up the  the silver-plated teapot from Freecycle. The keys came from the decor at a friend’s wedding (I would have loved to have seen that!) and several more were found in an old cabinet. The bell was purchased for $2.00 at an antique store.

Teapot & old keys wind chime

Teapot & old keys wind chime


Here’s another  idea for  wind chimes made with old keys.  This one needs a whole lot more keys – depending on how big you want to make it – and is a little trickier to assemble into that perfect spiral.  It’s so cool though, it’s totally worth giving it a try.

Are you constantly losing your keys? A piece of scrap wood, several old keys and a little elbow grease will help you make the perfect place to place your keys so that you can always find them. Bending the keys is the hardest part. If you have a vice it’ll be easier to hold the fat end on the key in place while using a good pair of pliers to bend the thin end into a hook. Use a couple of furniture tacks – they are prettier than regular nails – to nail the keys to the board, hang it up and there you have it. Just remember to hang your keys there !



And last but certainly not least, use some of those older, more ornate skeleton keys to create wall art. It’s fun and definitely original. As I was writing, I kept thinking, “Where would I put something like this?; who might like this and why?”  How about putting one together as a house warming gift. Or a wedding shower, anniversary or Valentine’s Day gift with a beautifully written quote along the lines of “the key to my heart …. ” Then there are all those students graduating in a couple of months.  There are SO many quotes which could be added to a single mounted and framed key.  Here’s a great one from Arthur Ashe: ” One important key to success is self-confidence.  An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

Now that I think about it, I’ll take a couple of the more interesting keys we found in that jar in my dad’s office and mount them in a frame. What a great way to remember him, his idiosyncrasies and other quirky habits.

And please listen to the latest Green Divas DIY podcast for more fun ideas!

About the author / 

Green Diva Mizar'


    Condo Blues March 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm -  Reply

    I love glitzy mixed media jewlery!

    aacia June 2, 2013 at 12:31 am -  Reply

    I loved this idea so piggy backed off your examples and made my own! I was wondering how much you think I could sell them for at a local art fair in my town? Like how much would you ask for your’s, that is if you were to sell them of course?

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