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Purchase an inexpensive Styrofoam cone, actually more of a pyramid, at a craft store. Get one about 8-10 inches tall, that has sides (or larger, if you have a lot of old keys and only want to make one).
Paint the old keys gold. Painting only one side is okay. If more color is needed, use metallic paint of additional hues for some/all of the keys.
The natural sparkle of the Styrofoam seems to lend a bit of a festive air to the decoration, so no paint is needed on the tree itself.
Using straight pins, stick one where you want the top of a key to go, leaving about 1/4 inch sticking out. Hang a key on this, then use another key to prop the key at whatever angle you wish. Keep doing this until you have created the look you desire. Leaving blank spaces between keys gives an attractive look.
You can also made the trees in several sizes with the corresponding keys: small cone, luggage keys, etc. Also, varying the sizes of keys on the larger cones is an option.
I have one that I made years ago, and it still looks great!
By varying the Styrofoam shapes you could also make other decorations, such as cylinders for faux candles, cubes, etc.
Source: A craft magazine back in the 70s, I think.
By Cay from Green Cove Springs, FL
With keys and locks being a fashionable jewelry theme right now, you can make trendy pieces for very little. I put a large key from an antique store on a ball chain for a great casual necklace.
For Valentine's Day, I hung a small lock and key set on a long ribbon, adding a red plastic "jewel" heart - for a specially romantic pendant.
By Pam M. from L.A., CA
Editor's Note: Be cautious around children with antique locks and keys. They are often made of lead.
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Here are questions related to Uses for Old Keys.
I want ideas on what to do with different kinds of keys? Thanks.
By Sue from IL
Make a card that says you hold the key to my heart, and glue it on the card.
Does anyone know of any organization collecting keys for children whose homes have no chimneys? I have a bunch to get rid of and would love to donate to this specific program.
By Gem from Gordonsville, VA
I teach kindergarten and would love to make these for my students. My address is PO Box 58 Barrackville WV 26559 if anyone has any donations!
Thanks, Kindergarten Connie
I love to find new uses for old things. I have tons of keys and was wondering if anyone had any idea what could be done with them?
Use as a paper weight.