I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent entirely too much time daydreaming about what Halloween decor I’d have if money was no object. Sites like Pinterest and Grandin Road have given me very elaborate ideas, ideas that my budget very quickly shut down.
A few years ago, the inner crafter in me decided to scratch that “fancy” decoration itch by going the DIY route. The problem was that I was about three months out from my wedding — and my budget had never been tighter.
Enter the Witch’s Kitchen Apothecary.
I’d seen lots of tutorials on Pinterest about making your own witch’s apothecary “ingredients” out of household items like old jars and vitamin bottles. Basically, a little paint and hot glue can transform anything into something “spooktacular.” But I was especially drawn to the tutorials for worn glass bottles that showcased the creepy contents.
Since I was most definitely on a tight budget, I turned to my two favorite sources for inexpensive goods: Dollar Tree and Target’s Dollar Spot. And they did not disappoint!
The Dollar Spot had sets of bath salts in little corked containers, absolutely perfect for a witch’s apothecary. I also found a similar set of corked bottles that were filled with paper clips and thumbtacks. For about $7, I’d gotten 10 precious bottles — and the bath salts would make the most excellent filler!
Dollar Tree was a jackpot on its own! While I managed to find a few small jars in the food section and a few bottles in the beauty section, the real fun was in the toy section! Since I wanted to make sure you could actually see what was in my finished bottles, I was on the hunt for filler. The toy section was PERFECT for this, so I let my creativity run wild. I got several realistic fake insects, earthworms, lizards, and snakes. I found lots of tiny silicone body parts like noses, ears, and teeth. I even grabbed some of those animals that expand when placed in water.
Finding filler would be an awesome way to get your kids involved in making your apothecary jars!
Another great spot for filler ideas was the craft aisle. I got a few different kinds of beads, feathers, and moss. While I was there, I noticed a section full of fake fruit and vegetables. A Disney girl at heart, I knew I had to throw a few apples in the mix. I also snagged a few fake floral stems with various berries on them.
If I’d allowed myself more time (and a bigger budget), I most likely would’ve ventured to a craft store to see what else I could dig up. I know both Michael’s and Hobby Lobby both have extensive glass collections, but you could also check out thrift stores to find some very unique containers.
Once I got my containers and filler, I started researching ways to make the glass bottles look old and worn. There were several tutorials I found, but I sort of made up my own as I went.
Here’s what I used:
- Clean glass bottles & jars with any labels removed (plastic may work as well, but I have not tried it)
- Fine grit sandpaper (I used 150)
- Acrylic paint (light grey, black, brown, and green)
- Water for thinning the paint
- Paper towels
- Labels for your jars (details on mine below)
- Filler for your jars (Dollar Tree is a great resource!)
- Hot glue gun & sticks
And here’s how I did it:
First, I printed my labels. You can definitely create your own, but I used The Navage’s Patch’s free printable. I printed them in color on regular copy paper. Once they were printed, I took each page and crumpled it up as tightly as I could and then smoothed it out. This makes the labels appear very worn. I chose to cut my labels out with scissors, but you could tear them if you’d prefer a more authentically worn edge.
Use the sandpaper to scuff up the surface of the bottles and jars, paying special attention to the edges. The paint sticks best to the most scuffed up areas, so be sure you do the whole bottle. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the bottle is nice and scuffed up!
If you want the slightly opaque look like I have, brush on some watered down light grey acrylic paint with a toothbrush. As soon as you’ve painted the bottle, use a paper towel to blot it off. You should be left with an opaque bottle.
Once the bottles are sanded (and opaque if you’d like), time to dirty them up! Mix your acrylic paints to your desired shade of “dirty” and water it down a bit so it’s a bit easier to spread. I used black, brown, and green. Use a toothbrush to apply it to your bottles. As soon as the paint is applied, use a paper towel to blot the bottles. You can make them as filthy as you like, but remember you’ll want to still be able to see what’s inside.
Set your bottles aside to dry, which won’t take long since you’ve taken off most of the watered down paint. Once they’re completely dry, time to label and fill!
I went through my labels and decided which ingredient name went best with which filler and then chose a container based on that. For example, I knew the “Croc-in-a-Crock” label would go best with the larger fake lizard I bought at Dollar Tree. So then I chose one of my larger bottles for that since I wanted it to fit. Here, I’m using a Raven Feather label and filling the jar with black craft feathers. I needed to use a straw to push them down the neck of the bottle. Once filled, I used hot glue to attach my wrinkly label and to secure the cork. Then you’re done!
Displaying Your Apothecary Jars
You can display your jars however you’d like: on a tabletop, a shelf, a spice rack, or even a tiered tray. I use my tiered tray because it’s large enough to accommodate my collection but also contained enough that I’m not worried they’ll be moved around and broken. Here’s a great tutorial for how to style a tiered tray.
Dress up your collection however you’d like! I anchored my tiers with fake skulls and a raven and then peppered in some “poisoned” apples, random spiders, and large black feathers. Get creative! Covering the whole thing in fake spider webs could definitely help pump up your creepy factor!
BONUS D.I.Y.: Glowing Witch’s Cauldron!
I had a $15 essential oil diffuser hiding out in my laundry room cabinet and I decided to put it to work as part of my home’s witch theme. A plastic cauldron and a pack of fake spider webs (both from Dollar Tree!) made it completely come to life!
Simply set the diffuser in the cauldron and run the diffuser’s cord through the hole in the bottom of the cauldron. Fill diffuser with water (feel free to use essential oil if you wish). Plug the diffuser in and set the diffuser’s light setting to the color green. Place the spider web material around the top of the diffuser, leaving room for the “steam” to escape. Enjoy your spooky witch’s cauldron!