A laptop computer died in my household.  So I retrieved the keys and turned them into jewelry!  This recycled computer key resin jewelry tutorial is not hard to do.  I will share some tips and ideas with you along the way so you can do the same!

This recycling idea is not new as you can see from the various designs on Etsy!

This particular laptop happened to be an Apple. A keyboard protector such as this one has been used for its lifetime so the keys were not worn nor needed much cleaning except for a quick wipe with some rubbing alcohol (isopropanol) available from any drug store. 

There are various videos on how to remove an Apple computer key or more correctly, the cover. Shown below is an example by Eugene Robertus.   I used a very fine screwdriver like the ones for eyeglasses to help me prise keys up. But you can try other tools like a thick needle. The trick is to do it evenly around each key. 

The keys of computer model I had looked like this at the back. I removed the metal part. 

The resin I used is Little Window's Brilliant Resin which is an excellent jewelry grade resin.  Readers get a 15% discount - just use BG1516 as the code. The resin is crystal clear, non-toxic (no fumes) and is made in California. 

You can use the marks on the measuring cups which come with the resin. But lately I have gone back to using a small digital small scale like this one for more accuracy.  This particular resin uses a 2 : 1 ratio.  I made it up according to the instructions.

I used two different ways to turn the keys into resin jewelry.  One with a colored surrounding background and one without any. 

Black Background

I chose black as it was a good contrast to the white keys and sufficed for unisex pieces.  I used Little Window's black resin pigment.  I just added enough drops of the black pigment until I got a solid black.  You could also mix the black with the white to get a grey. 

I used a total of 3 layers of resin, the first of which is black. Brilliant Resin is a great doming resin but you can also use it for casting.  Bubbles can be hard to remove if the resin layer is too deep. So splitting the work into three reduces that problem. You can if you wish add a fourth layer to get the full doming effect. 

I poured enough black resin mix to cover the bottom of the molds I used.  I then covered up the molds and let the resin cure overnight.

The molds shown in this tutorial include those from Little Windows which have no bail holes. The square and rectangular mediums ones from their selection works well.  You can also choose silicone molds with bail holes but you will have select the appropriate shapes for the keys you have. 

Use double sided tape to secure large inclusions which might float during the next resin addition.  Little Windows has double sided paper which you can cut to any size. 

But as the backs of these keys were recessed, I had to use double sided foam mounting sheets which I got from the dollar store. Failing that, Scotch brand also sells these.  I cut to shape and attached the foam bits to the backs of the keys and then onto the cured black resin.

Onwards for the next two clear resin layers.  The second resin layer was carefully placed just around each key. This was then cured. The final clear resin layer was then added to cover everything. 

 Covering each cure is a good idea to prevent household dust from settling on the resin. 

I also used Little Window's small silicone molds for a side project using square 4 hole Swarovski connectors. I only used two layers of resin for this as I did not want to cover the crystals with resin which changes their sparkle. 

There are often straggly bits of resin after you remove the pieces from the molds. Just cut them off with a pair of scissors.

Then sand the edges under water to contain any dust.  I use 400 grit wet dry sand paper. 

No Background

I decided to just fill the backs of some of the keys with resin. I used both the white pigment from Little Windows as well a pearlized white mica powder such as this one. 

Just be very careful when you add the resin as you must not have any drips over the sides of the keys.  Any drips elsewhere is not a problem if you use something like Little Windows' silicone doming tray. You can just peel off once those drips cure. 

That's what a key looks like in a side view afterwards :

I made lightweight wire bails for the earrings by scrolling a 2 inch length of 20 G wire from both ends and bending the piece into half. 

Although you can use more resin as a glue or a good cyanoacrylate one like Starbond, I have found I have better luck if I use something like E6000 for bail.  B-7000 is a related glue which comes with a precision tip much like Hypo cement which also works.   I used B-7000 for this project and it worked very well. 

I also used the same glue for the glue on pendants below.  Haven't yet decided which cord I prefered for the pendants with the holes!  As you can see, the Little Windows mold gives an even black surround but the other types of molds accommodate the keys differently. 

I learned the hard way to divide the resin pours into 3 layers. An earlier batch with just 1 black and 1 clear layer resulted in a late forming bubble :

This pair didn't turn out properly either due to bubbles. But they show you can use letter or number combinations. I used 42 because if you have ever read Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you would know it is the "ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything!"

I thought the Home or the Return keys were ideal as keychains! The page up or page down earrings for bookworms?  The plus and minus earrings for teachers?  

Have fun with this project!! And ensure less goes to the garbage dump!

Before You Go:

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM