The bead on this key moves up and down the shank and spins 360 around it. Gold tone chain, charm & Austrian Crystal.
Years ago, I accumulated a lot of antique keys through cleaning out and selling my mother’s house. I started making ornamental “house jewelry” based on those keys, and then decided to try making beads directly on the keys. For years, the beads were stationary on the keys, but I got bored and figured a way to make them loose on the key shanks. I thought they were more interesting. I eventually ran out of that rather substantial stash, so I constantly hunt sources for the really old beautiful skeleton keys.
These keys are all antiques. I clean them thoroughly as they are usually a rusty mess when I get them. I start with a small wire brush using my foredom. I make the bead on the shank, then use the wire brush again to clean up the scale, bead release, etc. I finish them with Renaissance Wax to retard rust. If you don’t have access to that wax, a bit of WD40 on a soft cloth, or even a dab of car wax every so often will keep them in great shape. Wearing them or handling them frequently seems to also reduce rust formation, I guess due to the natural oils in your hands.
The keys are all unique. Beaded Keys are all processed exactly as my other beads – flame to kiln.
I use 104 COE glass – Effetre (formerly Moretti), Lausha, Messy, and assorted silver reactives like TAG and Double Helix. I work on either a Nortel Minor or GTT Lynx torch and use either my Arrow Springs A-18 kiln or my Toolbox kiln for annealing. All my beads are properly annealed in one of the digitally controlled kilns, and then cleaned thoroughly of bead release using specially designed reamers in my Foredom.