For our 2018 Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to honor the 20th anniversary of our beloved Harry Potter, and of course, have a Hogwarts-themed dinner, complete with the most wizardly decorations. I wanted to get an early start on making the decorations because it is typically the most time consuming part of most festivities, and had wanted to use them for my Halloween décor as well. Today, I delved into making these cool apothecary and potion bottles, and wanted to share how fun and easy it really was.
There are endless choices for making these, and you can use Harry Potter for inspiration, or you can just let your imagination run wild. Some ambitious people design their own labels and hand make them, or you can print them out from your computer like I did. It was an enormous time saver to print the labels, and since there are so many free designs available on Pinterest, you could easily find something to suit your taste.
There is a little bit of prep for this project, and that involves saving or finding the perfect bottles and jars to use, and then washing them out. This is a great upcycle project because it is an awesome way to reuse and recycle glass jars and bottles that you can keep for many years to come. I chose certain types of bottles based upon the labels that I had pre-selected and because they were of small-to-medium size. My house is relatively small and I try to minimize clutter, so I created eight simple pieces to go with a witch display I was already working on.
Some people get crazy-creative with what they put inside of these and there are a lot of super creepy ideas out there. I kept it more practical and chose to fill my jars with water and add food coloring so that I could easily empty and dry them out after the holidays are over. In a few of the jars, I did add some withered, sprouted sweet potato from our garden to give them the look of mandrake, but otherwise kept it simple.
The tops of most of my jars were painted with a few coats of acrylic brown paint. I used a big bristled brush and applied two coats in a sloppy manner to give them more of a weathered look. Brown twine from the hardware store was wrapped around the necks and/or bottom edges of some the jars, using Mod Podge as the adhesive. In addition, I chose to melt green candle wax and drip it down the tops and side of my two bottles to give them an extra eerie vibe.
Mod Podge was a necessity for these because it held down the brown twine and sealed the labels to the jars. I wasn’t trying to make these look perfect because they are supposed to look shabby and old, and intentionally didn’t smooth out the bubbles on the labels like I would normally do with Mod Podge. Alternatively, you could lightly sand the dried Mod Podge to give the bottles an even more ragged look.
If you aren’t familiar with using Mod Podge, or don’t have any, you could also use craft glue to apply the labels and twine. For mine, I put a medium layer of Mod Podge on each one and applied the label, and then quickly brushed another layer over top to seal it on. For the twine, the Mod Podge was applied liberally under where I intended to put the wrapped twine, and a small dot of Mod Podge was applied to seal the cut end of the string to the jar. ( I did not brush any Mod Podge over the rest of the twine.)
A few things to start your own creepy apothecary potion project:
- Assortment of medium-to-small jars and bottles. (Washed clean and labels removed.)
- Apothecary and potion labels of your choice.
- News paper
- Acrylic paint.
- Mod Podge.
- Brushes for paint and Mod Podge.
- Candle wax and matches or lighter.
- Food coloring, roots, dried fruit, pebbles, or other fillings of your choice.
a) Apply medium coat of Mod Podge to jar or bottle and then press label on. b) Brush another coat over label and also where you want to wrap the string. c) Wrap string slowly around neck or bottom edge of bottle several times, (or until desired thickness), and cut with scissors. d) Put a small drop of Mod Podge on end cut of twine and smooth it down onto jar or bottle. Let dry. e) Meanwhile, with the remaining jar lids laying top-side-up on a newspaper, paint them the color of your choice and let dry. f) Apply a second coat of paint to the jar lids after the first one has dried. g) After the jars and lids have completely dried, you can fill them with the objects of your choice. h) Add water with a few drops of food coloring to achieve the eerie colors you desire. Place lids back on bottles and jars. i) Light a candle and drip wax over some of the bottles for an extra spooky effect.
Additionally, you could paint smooth round pebbles, or marbles to look like eye balls and put them in the jars too. You can also use dried fruit to look like dead “bugs” or dried white rice to look like “maggots”. Try to imagine what kind of freaky items Dr. Frankenstein might have on hand in his laboratory and duplicate those. There are a ton of ideas out there, and you can find inspiration from your favorite horror movie or Harry Potter scenes. Make these jars sophisticated or scary, gross or gory, and anyway you mix it up would be perfect for either a Hogwarts celebration or as part of your festive Halloween décor.