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I'd like to do an artistic project using old house keys.? Answered

I have quite a few brass, aluminum, and other metal keys from padlocks, door locks and the like. I'd really like to create something using them. I doubt they'd make a good trivet since they conduct heat. I just can't come up with anything useful and pretty to make. I know there are many creative minds here and I'd like to tap into them.


Just one thing to keep in mind while working with these: The old brass alloys used for keys contained a small amount of lead, to give the metal the right characteristics to cut nicely. There is an ongoing debate about how much of that lead might or might not be able to leach out; some folks are advising keeping old keys out of the hands of young children, and some are speculating about whether there's a danger to locksmiths and others who are exposed to the chips from key cutting.

I haven't seen anything definitive either way, and personally I'm not worrying about it. But you MAY want to avoid using old keys where they can come into contact with food or where toddlers might be tempted to suck on them or put fingers into mouths after handling them. (Small bodies, and developing brains, are more vulnerable.)

Having said that: As a part-time locksmith I've got a pile of retired keys which have accumulated over the years. When it eventually gets big enough, I may bring 'em in for recycling. But I do like the idea of doing something creative with them.

One possible idea: I have seen some mosaics made out of old keys set in grout. The ones I've seen were geometrics, but it might be really interesting to try to use the shadings and textures of the keys to create an image. (Me being me, I'd lean toward an image which somehow referred to the history of locks, but of course I'm obviously biased.)

Might be possible to do something similar but freestanding by silver-soldering the keys together (with a support frame). Or building them into a stained-glass-like matrix, though of course they wouldn't transmit light. (Reflect, maybe, if polished.)

Anyway, that's one possible direction. I'm sure there are others.

When you come up with something, please post photos -- I'm curious about what this project will turn into!

As the link I just posted (http://www.etsy.com/listing/6887018/master-lion-key-bracelet) points out, jewelry might be another possibility... either using whole keys, or just parts of them.

It's probably worth trying a few websearches for "key art" to see what turns up.


7 years ago

Make glass enclosed frame that rotates five of your best keys,
presenting only one to view every 12.5 minutes during
light on the display room wall.


I've seen a really nice wind chime made from old keys. Several keys were strung along a length of fishing line, then several of the lengths of fishing line were attached to a round piece of wood I think.


7 years ago

i built an interesting set of wind chimes using some old skeleton keys I bought in a box I found at a garage sale. But that only used up a dozen of the keys, I have twice that many left over.
I'm going to be watching to see if someone has an idea I might use too.