Bespoke Accessories Design: Goldfish keyring

We were approached by the client, a member of staff at a local garden and aquatics centre, to design a fish key ring which could be sold as a souvenir item.  Initially we looked at flat, die stamped fish silhouettes, as this provided the opportunity to add trans enamel to create vivid tropical fish while retaining the ability to see the scale detail beneath.  These designs were favourably received, but the client also wanted to see a fully 3D die cast design.

Koi carp keyring design ideas

Firstly, we needed to decide what type of fish to model.  After a brainstorming session the common goldfish was chosen, as it was felt that this would appeal most to the general population.  Goldfish have been captively bred in their native China since around 800 A.D. making them one of the earliest fish to be domesticated.  There are a lot of different breeds within the species including lionheads, ryukins, comets and orandas, but we chose the fantail due to its attractive visual traits: egg-shaped body, fantail, double fins and bubble eyes.

Reference images for a fantail goldfish keyring.

  Using photographs and paintings as reference material we began sketching the fantail goldfish keyring design exaggerating the key visual traits: the eyes, mouth, scales and fins.  Through sketching the design from different angles, it was decided that the most subtle way to add the keyring chain would be to add a ring to the quadruple caudal fin at the back.  This would also have the effect of providing a centre of gravity, so that the goldfish would naturally hang straight down when the keyring was lifted.

Initial sketches of a fantail goldfish keyring

  Utilizing CAD the initial sketches were converted into fully 3D models.  The goldfish keyring features were adapted to ensure that they were suitable to be die cast, for example the fins were thickened up significantly from the delicate real-life versions.  Grooves cut into the outer surface of the fins helped to make them appear more fluid and fragile.  The 3D models were rendered to provide the client with an understanding of the final material options and then 3D printed to create a wax facsimile for final physical approval and mould creation.  The Goldfish was to be gold plated and the keyring components silver plated to create a sharp contrast.  A quick release clasp was added to the keyring split ring for improved speed of release and accessibility.

Die cast, gold plated goldfish keyring with contrasting silver plated components.

  With moulds created, the goldfish keyrings were cast in base metal and gold plated.  The keyring components including quick release clasp were silver plated.  Finally, the components were connected and expertly hand polished to remove any tarnishing or marks.  To bring out the details in the goldfish model an oxi wipe solution was applied.  In summary this project emphasised Merit’s collaborative approach, transforming customer ideas into fully developed accessory products.  The resulting goldfish keyring was enthusiastically received by the client and the target market resulting in strong unit sales and repeat orders.  Don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel we could assist you to produce similar products.

Complete die cast, gold plated goldfish keyring with contrasting silver-plated components

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