Keychain tutorial

A while back I hoarded several #6 plastic take-out boxes that were rumored to be great recyclable replacements for ShrinkyDinks…turns out it’s true!

I cut the flattest part of the boxes into 3″ circles and promptly forgot about them…

Then one day we needed an impromptu project for art class and I pulled them out with the few black sharpies that we had around and the class had a ball drawing onto the plastic by tracing shapes and coming up with some designs of their own. And then I promptly forgot about them again…

The other night in a fit of cleaning frenzy I uncovered the plastic circles and stuck them in the oven! We’ll witness this magic another day, since I actually wasn’t sure if they’d work at all. Sure enough, the 3″ circles shrunk down into about 1″ circles

Now what to do with them? We had punched holes into the top of each circle with a regular hole puncher before they baked so that they could be attached to a future functional item.

We haven’t completed this project in class yet, but I did a trial run on one “shrinkydink” to try making it into a keychain and it worked quite well, so here’s the tutorial!

You will need:

circles cut out of #6 plastic, 3” in diameter, hole punched close to the edge on one side

1 black sharpie or permanent marker

 split rings (keyrings)

pieces of waxed linen, 12” long

e-beads of assorted colors

squares of fabric, 3” in diameter each

Step 1: Draw desired design on each of the 3 circles with sharpie marker. If there is text, write in reverse or just know that you will have to seal the front of the keychain when it is completed to prevent marker from scratching off. Remember that the location of the hole indicates the top of the design.

Step 2: Bake plastic on a cookie sheet in oven at 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes. The plastic will curl, shrink, and then flatten out. It may not be completely flat when it comes out, but you can use the end of a wooden spoon to press down on the plastic while it’s still warm

Step 3: Let cool completely, then remove from cookie sheet.

IMG_0094Step 4: Apply permanent adhesive such as YES paste or spray with 3M craft mount to the back of the plastic and adhere fabric, pressing down to ensure complete contact. Let dry 1 hour

Step 5: Cut around fabric to meet the shape of the circle, then using an Xacto-knife or large needle to punch through the fabric to ensure the pre-punched hole goes through both the plastic and the fabric.

Step 6: Fold waxed linen in half, inserting folded side through the hole and threading loose ends of the thread through the loop. Pull loose so the cord is snug to the plastic.

Step 7: Thread on desired beads- I used e-beads which are a size in between pony beads and seed beads because they seemed to fit best on the waxed linen. Knot close to the stop bead, then create another  overhand double-knot about an inch up the cord with both threads. This will be your loop through which you can attach the keyring. Cut off loose ends and you’re done!


The great thing about waxed linen is that it doesn’t fray easily, so those who have enough dexterity to string beads can do so without much difficulty. Those in my earlier class who need a bit more guidance are great at jobs like spreading glue and patting down a the surface to be glued so this could be a project that is planned for a 2-part session involving both classes. My goal for the winter is to have kits pre-made so that those wanting an extra project on a restless day can pick from the project packets and do an activity with pre-measured and divided materials. I’d like for these kits to include step-by-step instructions, amount of time that should be allotted, skills required, etc. We’ll see…this is the first of those kits and I’m not convinced it’s the best at encompassing most skill levels but we’ll have to try it to find out!