Key to Your Heart




About: In which I turn the thoughts from my head into objects in my hands

The design of this was inspired by Hugo the movie or The Inventions of Hugo Cabret the book. I loved the shape of the key to the automaton in the story and tried to recreate it. My first attempt at this worked out wonderfully, and one of my friends asked me to make her one. After requesting that she watch the movie first, I fulfilled her request, but I started thinking that I should tweak the design to make it unique and different. And thus you have the tutorial that's in front of your eyes.

You could make this and present it to your special other half in time for Valentine's Day. If you're single this Valentine's Day though, make it anyway and cherish it. You're a unique individual with a unique special someone; no need to be in a hurry to give away the key to your heart. I wish everyone the best of luck in the crazy game of love, but don't despair when conditions seem bleak. Here's my favorite quote from Hugo:

"I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too."

Step 1: Materials

  • thick and thin wire (I used 20 and 28 gauge silver-colored copper wire.)
  • pliers
  • paper and pencil for sketching

Step 2: Sketching and Designs

Design your key first. You may want to make your key unique to yourself, perhaps add a couple swirls here and there to match your preferences. Look up pictures of keys to fire up your imagination.

Be sure to sketch the top part of the key (part where you pinch to twist) and its shape (you may choose to make the hole in that part a legitimate heart, or a star) with the life-size dimensions to guide you later.

My tutorial will only go through how to make the basic frame of the key, so you can add some stylistic flair to your key. But I'll just tell you basically what I did, and then you can go back and substitute my shapes for yours. Capeesh?

Step 3: Shaping the Bottom Part

I have no idea what the technical name for this is, but by bottom part I mean the section of a key that you insert into the keyhole and turn for unlocking the mechanism. If anyone out there is a locksmith of sorts, key jargon would be much appreciated so that I can avoid using vague names. ^^

My design is based on the shape from Hugo, and basically it's a hollow heart that's attached to the bottom of the key's "handle." To make it, you'll need to cut out a long U of thick wire that has two 4" parallel sides and a 1cm part that's perpendicular to both of those sides.

Step 4: Weaving the Bottom Part

Once you have the U, you need to grab your thin wire and, working with the whole spool, weave between the two parallel sides. To start, wrap one end of the thin wire to the bottom left corner of the U. Then see the MS Paint image for a better explanation (but just wrap around one of the parallel sides TWICE, go over to the other parallel side and wrap around it TWICE, then go back to the other parallel side and repeat). Continue until you have a lot (about 2.5") of weaving.

Bend the beginning of your weaving until you've created half of the heart. This is just to give you an idea of how much weaving you'll have to do, so decide how much more you'l need to weave and weave up to that spot. Then cut the thin wire loose, being sure to leave a bit extra in case you underestimated.

Set this piece aside for later.

Step 5: Shaping the Top Part

Shape your thick wire into small heart hole with two 3" parallel lines sticking out from it. Then use this as a guide to make two identical oval shapes with two 3" parallel lines sticking out of them (two ovals for added strength and to make the "post" of the key thicker). See the pictures for what I mean by "two lines sticking out."

Step 6: Weaving the Top Part

If you're pressed for time or want to save yourself a lot of trouble, skip this step and its frustration. It. Is. Hard. (not to mention time consuming; then again, my weaving skills are far from the best)

Make a sandwich with the pieces: oval, heart, oval. Then grab your thin wire (attached to the spool still) and wrap around the bottom of the ovals in the sandwich.

Now you're going to weave the space in between the heart and the oval, To do this, cut off the thin wire, leaving a wingspan's length of wire attached to the unfinished key. Then wrap the wire around only the two ovals TWICE, and then around the heart (you'll need to insert the wire in the heart or the ovals, so this is really frustrating; the wire gets tangled). This is hard to explain, so see the pictures above. It's basically the same as the weaving for the "bottom part of the key" except that you treat the two ovals as one side for weaving and the heart as the other.

Once you're done weaving this part (Good job!), wrap the wire around the bottom of the ovals in the sandwich like you did to secure the thin wire in the beginning. Then cut the thin wire and use your fingers or pliers to push the cut end as flush to the rest of the key as possible so it won't poke you.

Step 7: Attaching Bottom Part to Top Part

Get your unfinished bottom part and line it up to the top part like in the pictures above. Make sure that you remembered to make a sharp bend (see step 4 and its pictures again). Then wrap the weaving around the "post" of the key (I'm thinking that the post is the long, thick part of the key? I really would like some help with nomenclature if you know key terms. ><). Once you've done that, make another sharp bend in the weaving (see the third image) and bend the rest of the weaving into the second half of the heart. If you don't have enough woven wire, use the excess thin wire tail to weave, and if you have too much, just unwrap the thin wire.

Step 8: Finishing the Heart

To finish of your heart, cut the two parallel sides so that they stick out past the beginning part about 0.25". Then stick them into the beginning of the weaving so that the two halves of the heart are connected. Bend the 0.25" ends backward so that the two halves are securely hooked together.

Step 9: Securing Bottom Part: Swirls

Now bend the extra wire sticking out from the bottom part of the key up 90 degrees. Make swirls with them by bending them into circles using your pliers. Then press the swirls into the back of the heart's weaving and arrange them so they don't overlap.

Your key is finally done!

Step 10: Wings and Stylistic Flair

To make the key fit my preferences, I added wings. This is my personal addition, so I'd rather you not try to copy this. But if you want to add wings, work out how to do this by yourself like I did.

Otherwise, you could make the heart hole in the top part of the key different shapes, from squares to triangles. The ovals don't have to be ovals either; they could be the heart instead, for example. OR you could just not have the oval or heart part and just use six pieces of wire (six so the key's "post" will be thick) and bend them into swirly shapes; everything is up to you.

The bottom part of the key could be a triangle instead of a heart, and there are many other possibilities out there. You just need to ponder on the subject for a while and see what suits you--or your valentine, if you're making this for a special somebody.

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    11 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Don't realy like it but was a good lesson....thank you :-)

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey--that looks great to me! Your weaving at the top and bottom of the key is spectacular; all the wire is so evenly spaced. Did you braid the middle section? Because if you did, you did an awesome job; I tried braiding at first, but then I found my thicker wire hard to manipulate.

    You Tell Me

    5 years ago

    Dude that is freakin awesome ur amazing I am so going to do that thanks for sharing with us

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Aww.. post your pictures and I'll try to help you fix anything that may have gone wrong. You still have time to fix this for your valentine!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, there's so much work here, it turned out beautiful! I wouldn't believe it was all handmade with wire if I didn't see the instructions!

    1 reply

    Thanks! The first time that I made something like this, I was also very surprised to find out that this was even possible. xD