Make your own keyring using silicon ice cube trays and pony beads! Pony beads are pretty cheap, and look fantastic when you melt them down for craft projects. Silicon ice cub trays are a big thing these days and you can get all sorts of amazing shapes. Because they're silicon, you can bake them, so they make ideal moulds for melting pony beads in.
Please be aware that this will pong. You're melting plastic, which produces fumes, so please be sure to open doors and windows, and not stay in the room while melting is in progress. If you have an oven you can take outside, do so.
Step 1: What You Need
- Plastic pony beads
- A silicon ice cube tray/mould
- An old baking tray
- Toothpick or other pointy object
- Sandpaper or nail/emery board
- Keyring rings
- Small jump rings (optional)
- Dremel/drill (optional)
Step 2: Designing
Arrange your pony beads in a rough colour pattern of your choice - the toothpick can come in handy here for moving them around when they move out of place. I have an Avengers mould, so I went with a rough approximation of their team colours. There's no hard and fast rule for the amount of beads you need. It can depend on the mould shape, the size, how much detail there is and how thick you personally want it to be. I used about 20 in each compartment, which made the overall thickness 5mm, but that's because the indent around the 'A' meant those areas were going to be thinner, so I needed some extra on back to account for that.
Step 3: Melting
Once you're happy, pop the mould into the oven on a baking tray, and leave it to melt. It's going to depend on your oven how long it's going to take. General recommendations are 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6. It's going to depend on how your oven behaves. With my oven (gas) I have it on as hot as possible as it tends to run cooler than it should, and then check every 10 minutes to see what progress has been made. It usually takes between 10 to 20 minutes for them to melt. Once you have a non-lumpy, shiny surface, you should be good to remove the mould from the oven. If you find you haven't put enough beads in and can see the bottom of the mould in places, you can drop a few more in now then leave it in the oven for longer.
When they're done, take them out. If you're putting a hole in at this stage, see the next step. Otherwise, leave them to harden for about 10 minutes, then you can pop them out of the mould. Be careful, because the mould can still be hot at this point, so handle carefully or wait until it's cooled properly (especially if kids are involved).
Because this is a quick and dirty home DIY project using cheap craft bits you may have to hand, you're not going to get perfection - expect some bubbles here and there. Depending on the finish in the mould, you might get a shiny finished product like it is on the top/back, or you might get a matte, frosted finish like I have here.
Step 4: Making the Hole
The first, and easiest, option is to use a toothpick, wool needle or other pointing object to wiggle the hole in where you went it right after you remove it from the oven. If you're just doing one or two, then this method is perfect, you just need to remember that the mould is HOT, so make sure that you hold it steady wearing gloves or using a thick tea towel.
With more than two I find the plastic has already cooled too much for this to work, so if you're doing more (or you just forgot) then you'll need to drill the hole with a suitable drill bit size and a drill, dremel or other such tool. The thing to remember here is that the rapid spinning of the drill bit against an object causes friction and so generates heat. As these are plastic, it will cause the stuff getting drilled out to melt and then harden on the drill bit. There's probably some way to do this without causing that, but I don't have much to do with drills. Instead, I recommend that you use some cheap as chips drill bits from a discount store that you don't mind messing up. Also, remember to put a block of wood or something similar under it so that you don't drill through and ruin your work surface.
Step 5: Sanding
You'll notice that the back of the fob probably has bits sticking up making the edges a bit sharp. You'll need to sand those down. You can use an emery/nail board or a bit of sandpaper to do this - it can be quite soothing to do this in front of the TV for 30 minutes. The other option is to do it with a dremel or similar and use a sanding attachment to speed the process up, if you have the attachments and that's in your wheelhouse.
Step 6: Finishing
Now you just need to attach it. I'd personally want to use a small jump ring between the fob and the larger ring at this point, because I think it makes the whole thing look neater and hang better. Unfortunately, in this instance the chunk at the top of the 'A' is too big for that (I didn't think that one through), and I felt putting the hole in that section might end up making it too brittle. So I opted to just put it on the larger ring. I think it looks just fine nestled with my keys.
Step 7: Tips
- Check the mould can take high temperatures, some cheap ones can't.
- Don't use the mould for ice cubes after, it's probably not healthy. Only use a mould you're happy to resign to the crafting supplies.
- Wash the mould out first to remove any annoying particles hat might stick to the end product.
- You need to pack the pony beads as best as possible into crevices (it can be hard as hey're chunky) to make sure that the beads melt properly into the fiddly bits, otherwise you might end up with little bits missing. I got a bit sloppy with the red/black and red/yellow ones because I started to rush. You can see this in the photo.
- You can also turn these into fridge magnets - an ideal solution if you forgot to pop a hole in with a toothpick and don't have access to a drill. I've done this myself (see pic), and they look really attractive on the fridge. Simply sand down the back to create a rough surface so the glue sticks better, follow the instructions of your chosen strong glue to apply a magnet, then leave it to dry before popping it on your fridge to hold your important memos in place.