Potion Bottles




About: I'm a Renaissance woman. I love to create things with a fantasy, medieval, or geeky edge. I'm also a math/science nerd. I have a passion for all things Halloween. I like to build props, create costume elemen...
These are some of the potion bottles I use to decorate for Halloween.  I made them from glass containers decorated with polymer clay, paint, flat glass marbles, corks, rubber stamps, egg shells, twine, beads, paper, and candle wax.

Many of the original plastic or screw-on lids were easily be replaced with corks.  Corks can be purchased in a hardware store in the bulk bins.  Either bring your bottles with you for fitting or else measure them carefully and then select corks of the right size.  You can also find a variety of rubber stoppers there which work well for some bottle styles or decorating themes.

These bottle are several years old and I'm afraid I never documented their creation with photos.  When not on display, I keep them in "open storage" on a shelf that allows them to collect dust.  The dust really helps them look old.

Round Gold Bottle
The base is a clear class Christmas ornament which I covered in gold polymer clay by carefully pressing pieces of clay all over the surface and smoothing out the clay as I worked.  This was baked and other clay embellishments were added using liquid polymer clay to bond the baked and fresh pieces:  
  • A twisted rope of clay formed into a circle allows it to stand up.  Another was added to the neck of the bottle.
  • A slightly different shade of gold polymer clay was rolled out, coated with cornstarch, stamped with a cornstarch dusted rubber stamp, and placed in the center before baking on the clay.  (Once baked, I was able to rinse off the cornstarch which worked as a mold release.) 
  • I added a silver-backed flat glass marble made using my Faux Gemstone technique.

Erumpent Horn
This bottle looks like a stick of dynamite because it contains something just as destructive.  The tall red bottle was covered in cleaned cracked egg shells.  A more detailed instruction of this technique is given here: Eggshell-Covered Potion Bottle.  Working in sections, I covered part of the bottle in glue and pressed down a large piece of cleaned eggshell and then spread out the pieces to create a sort of mosaic pattern.  This process was repeated until the entire bottle was covered.  I painted over this and antiqued it using acrylic paints and glazes.  Then, I drilled a hole in the original screw-on lid, and covered it in polymer clay which was then baked to harden it.  I strung beads and pulled the strand through the hole, securing it from the inside by tying a knot around another bead.  The label was made on my computer, printed onto ivory paper and the front side rubbed with a candle.  This gives a protective coat and makes it appear old.  The complete text says: 


Potentially Explosive!
Do not use around small children, farm animals, empty fields, shoes, acorns, wands, fires, cheese, owls, gold, silver, copper, glass, ceramics, iron, alcohol, toothpaste, certain species of rainforest toads, toenail clippings, or blood.
Purchaser takes this into custody at his or her own risk.
Have a pleasant day!

Purple Knotwork Jar
The purple jar is an eight-sided spice jar covered in a thick layer of polymer clay.  To accomplish this, I rolled out the clay and covered the jar with the single sheet.  Then I poked this layer with pins.  Using my hands, I pushed the clay up against the jar tight while excess air was pushed out through the holes.  Then I smoothed over the surface to hide the holes. 

On an extra section of the rolled clay, I embedded a rubber stamp by coating the clay and stamp in cornstarch, as in the Round Gold Bottle, and placed it on the unbaked clay-covered bottle.  This was baked and the stamped section was later highlighted by covering it in black acrylic paint thinned with a little water and cleaning it off the top surface before it dried.

The neck was wrapped in twine and the twine ends finished with beads.  A brown polymer clay "tag" is also hung from the neck.  I intend to replace this with a piece of wood labeled using a wood burner.

Potion Bottle Set (6)
These old jars were purchased off ebay as they are, with distressed lids.  I simply printed up labels on sticker paper using a font I liked and went over this with a permanent brush-tipped marker to give them a hand-quilled look.  Because I don't know what these bottles originally held, they couldn't be used for any spices that might go into food so they became potion ingredient bottles.  The ingredients and their labels are as follows:
  • Dried Doxy Venom: turbinado sugar
  • Beetle Eyes: black dragees (bought in a cake/candy decorating shop)
  • Dessicated Rat Brains: bulk-purchased dried garbanzo beans
  • Bowtruckle Skin: thin bark stripped off fallen branches
  • Asphodel Leaf: tarragon (selected because it is still a bright green even in dried form)
  • Knarl Quills: pine needles cut to roughly equal lengths

Bubotuber Pus
This was an iced tea bottle.  I covered it in a similar manner to the Purple Knotwork Jar but left the middle exposed to show the ingredients.  I made two swirl "stamps" to add the design.  To make them, I used polmer clay formed into swirls.  These were baked hard onto a block of polymer clay and pressed into the clay using cornstarch as a release.  I also used cornstarch when I rolled a knotwork ring around the top of the bottle for detail there and then pressed each side of  twelve-sided dice with astrological signs into the base (it's hard to see).  Once baked, this was detailed with gold acrylic paint.  The label was also made using a graphics program and rubbed with candle wax, as with the Erumpent Horn label, before adhering it to the bottle.  The bottle was topped with a paint aged cork and filled with green colored corn syrup.

Essential Extract of Mandrake Root
This was originally small single-serving liqueur bottle.  I marbled it using a oil-based paint traditionally used for model painting.  This was done by filling a plastic bucket with water and drizzling the paint on top of the water.  Once I had a good amount of paint, I dipped the bottle.  I moved the bottle around submersed slightly in the water, turning it so it got a good layer of paint.  Then I removed it  and allowed it to dry.

The label was made using a graphics program and then the edges were torn.  The picture doesn't show it well but I also distressed the label.  This was done by dropping on vanilla extract and blowing it down the label (to give it the look of drips).  Once dry, it was rubbed with candle wax and adhered to the bottle using spray adhesive.  The bottle contains more of the vanilla extract.
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    64 Discussions

    What a fun find this was today, a project just begging to be tried. Great instructable, and enough details to get one started. After all it is what the individual makes that means something, and you told us how, not lead us through a project that would simply be a copy. You are very creative, and this is the sort of simple project that can lead to more then a few other ideas along these lines as unique as the people themselves. I'm thinking of making a unique bottle for my desk to hold my sipp'n whiskey, and this ought to be just the ticket! Thanks.

    sooooooooooooooooooooooooo.............................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, wow these are amazing! I was going to do the same thing out of sweet stuff last Halloween (though mine wouldn't have been anywhere near so cool!), but I ran out of time... This year I will though!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks so much for the great idea. I am relatively new to working with polymer clays so I am always looking for cool ideas. I am also always looking for a unique gift idea!!
    I saw that there were some looking for a computer program to make the labels.
    You should check out programs by Broderbrund. I have an older version of Printmaster, that I have used for a lot of cool projects. The software is designed to be compatible with many of the labels that are on the market already ( they will show up in the print listing so that it will automatically format). I love the program because it includes a ton of clip art, or you can import your own from your hard drive. I think it was about $20 5 or so years ago. Good Luck

    Unfortunately, none that I know of. It doesn't mean they don't exist. I have been thinking the same thing. I need a lot more labels. I've been saving wine and liquor bottles, ready for labels and decorations to hold mixers, juices, etc. for a Halloween apothecary lab (drinks table.)

    I posted a rather long blog entry with some ideas on making labels here: Aged Paper Labels.  Maybe that will help some.  Most of it is about how I age the paper but there is a bit about how I use clip art to make borders and such.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Could you design the labels in any paint program and then print them up. There are lots of sites to get items like borders and interesting pics.
    I design miniature labels using either paintshop or publisher. You can buy the labels to put through the printer in many sizes.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I just did a search here and there are not really any ibles about making your own stick on labels (plenty of clothing label ones) for jars and things.
    If you give me a day or two, I could probably come up with one.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Probably not, but just checking. I can actually put this Polymer Clay around a glass object (which hardens at like 130 Celsius) and the glass object won't crack inside the oven?

    These look excellent. I was looking for a nice way to make bottles more personal, this will have to be tried, thanks a lot.

    2 replies

    Yes, you can bake it around a glass object.  People tend to worry about cracks developing in untempered glass but I have never had a problem with it in this kind of application.  I am careful to let the glass cool down naturally.  The cracking problem is only really an issue if the glass is subjected to a rapid cooling.  Don't put these things in the refrigerator or in cold outdoor temperatures right after they've been baked.  Allow the clay-covered glass to cool naturally, at room temperature.

    One thing that hasn't come up in my instructions here is that the clay itself won't permanently stick to the glass.  When covering an entire bottle, this isn't an issue.  However, when I've baked clay medallions onto bottles they stayed adhered for a while but do eventually fall off. They can be glued on using a good clear adhesive. I use one called E-6000 which will bond both polymer clay and glass (but only after all of the baking is done).

    A strategy that helps with partial coverage is to design your decoration so it will curl around the glass somehow. These are pictures of a bottle that has a medallion that is sort of clinging to the glass with "tendrils" wrapped around the neck of the bottle. I have not glued down anything on this bottle. The ends of the other tendrils are somewhat loose when I gently tug on them but stay in place because they are molded around the bottle.  The wrapped ones keep the whole medallion on the bottle. One day the main "gem" may loosen from the bottle but it will stay up, probably laying against the bottle, just not as tightly as it is now.  In that case, I'll just glue it down.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Oh wow, what wonderful creations. I love the round gold bottle, I work in miniatures and this one begs to be tried using a marble as the former.