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How to make a sentimental DIY keychain

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I don’t think I ever realized how happy and touched a father could be receiving a gift made by his children until I became a parent myself. Sure, there are all sorts of generic “manly” gifts on the market, but nothing beats a personal, customized handmade creation like this DIY keychain.

In our little family, I am the one with all the hobbies — and I mean all of them. But my husband owns a custom motorcycle, and that’s his “thing.” He used to ride it on the weekends and travel the country, before we had kids. Nowadays it doesn’t happen as often, but once in a while he’ll get on the bike and take the day to enjoy the wind in his hair (well, his helmet, but you get the idea).

Many loving fathers sometimes find themselves away from home. Some go on outdoor adventures, some travel the world going from one business meeting to another, some serve overseas or practice extreme sports. With those fathers in mind, I came up with this easy and personal gift.

A DIY keychain is a great practical gift for the dad on the go to carry with him, wherever the road takes him. Adding a charm with your residence’s geographic coordinates is a beautiful way to make sure Daddy always finds his way back home.

MORE: Dads suggest gifts for new dads & dads-to-be

DIY keychain tools and materials:

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DIY keychain instructions
Step 1

To create the marbled charm: Take even amounts of white and translucent clay, knead to soften and mix well together. The translucent clay makes the white a little less stark and gives it a more natural look.

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Step 2

To get the marbled effect we’ll be using the mix we’ve just made, some more translucent clay and some black clay. I usually go easy on the black color and add only a little bit, so the finished result will be subtle and bright.

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Step 3

Create three “snakes” out of the different clay colors and start mixing them together.

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Step 4

Try to mix and knead as little as possible, just enough so the marbling is pretty and interesting (too much kneading and it’ll all combine into a flat gray color).

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Step 5

Once you’re happy with the result, use a rolling pin and roll the marbled clay to about 1/8 inch. Here’s a little trick I use for rolling a smooth, even surface: I place the same number of game cards on both sides of my clay piece. Then, I roll the rolling pin on top of it all, until the clay is flush to the level of the cards.

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Step 6

Cut the charm in any shape you’d like, using a sharp knife or a clay cutter. I usually cut the clay right on the parchment paper sheet. Transferring it afterward may distort the crisp shape we’ve cut.

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Step 7

Make a small hole for the jump ring, using a straw or a piping tip. Bake the clay according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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Step 8

Time to make a location charm! Go online and search for your home’s geographic coordinate. Sometimes these coordinates will contain letters. I chose the numbers-only version.

Step 9

After choosing a favorite color, knead and soften the clay. You can go for something dark and masculine, but a bright cheerful color can add a lot of character. Besides, keys get lost all the time! Adding a hint of color to a keychain just might make finding it a little easier.

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Step 10

Roll the clay with the rolling pin to a thin 1/8-inch layer. You can roll it straight on to a piece of parchment paper.

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Step 11

Using tiny stamps, like the ones used in jewelry-making, stamp your home coordinates into the clay. If you’re missing some characters, like a comma or a hyphen, you can just use a toothpick or a sculpting tool.

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Step 12

Cut around the letters with a blade, making sure to leave some room for a little hole at the top. If you’re using a small craft knife like me, make sure to use a ruler to guide you.

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Step 13

Make a hole for the jump ring and bake.

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Step 14

To finish your DIY keychain, add a jump ring to the charms using small pliers. Attach the jump ring straight onto the key chain hoop, or to any keychain accessory you’d like.

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Ta-da! You’re done.

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Now all that’s left to do is think of something clever to write on your Father’s Day card. It can be a heartfelt message about how much you miss him when he’s away, but I would probably go for something lighter, maybe along the lines of, “Careful there, Dad, I know where you live!”

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