Steampunk Potion Bottles




I'm pretty new to the whole con scene (GMX 2010 was my first!), and I was amazed by the sheer variety of imaginative costumes and props worn by the attendees. It didn't take me long to decide to work on my own steampunk outfit, but I decided that if I was going to do it, it would have to be really well done (none of this gluing gears on umbrellas and calling it a day nonsense, thank you very much!). Since I have an entire year till the next GMX, I've started slow and opted to work on these steampunk potion bottles.

I want to be the first to state that I cannot wholly take credit for this idea. The seeds were planted long ago, practicing knot tying in Scouts and with my father. More recently, I stumbled across Stormdrane's work and was inspired to work on these potion bottles.
Stormdrane has done some excellent knotwork with paracord, a great deal of his projects far surpass my abilties. I suggest you check out his many instructables and posts, they are quite enlightening.

Finally, I give thanks to Angel, a t-shirt vendor at GMX. Without him, I would have not discovered these interesting bottles.

Step 1: Getting Started: Supplies

Materials needed (potion bottle only)
- Glass Bottle
- 1" Steel Ring
- Suede Lacing (8' length)
- Cork

Pretty much everything you need can be bought at your local arts and crafts store. Hobby Lobby carries these nice glass bottles with a screw off cap; I would not suggest using an actual light bulb, as the glass is rather thin and removing the filament can be tricky. If you don't have access to a Hobby Lobby, any interesting jar or bottle will work. However, a tapered neck will help keep the leather netting attached.

Step 2: Let's Get Knotty!

Start by tying a simple overhand knot to form a slipknot. This will be the basis for your netting structure.

Tighten the loop around the neck of the bottle.

Step 3: Knot Too Difficult...

The netting is composed of a repeating series of double half-hitches. It's a simple knot, but I've taken care to detail it's application here.

Before you read the directions below, a warning: The photos below are MUCH simpler to follow. So if you are like me (a visual learner), skip the paragraph below and follow the pictures.

Take the loose end and thread it behind the base loop from above about an inch from the overhand knot we tied earlier. Pull it most of the way through, leaving a small, hanging loop. Cross the leading edge over, and thread it behind the base loop from below. Make sure to leave a little bit of slack so that the leading edge can thread back over the base loop and into the gap left. Finally, tighten everything up.

Step 4: Knot Too Difficult...part II

Now we simply repeat this procedure till we've completely encircled the neck of the bottle. Try to keep the knots about the same distance apart. It's not strictly required, but it'll definitely make the going easier and look better in the end.

Try to space the knots so that the final one butts up against the overhand knot we tied to make the slipknot. Don't worry if it's not perfect, you can always slide the individual knots around afterward.

Step 5: Knot Too Difficult...part III

Instead of using the base loop, we'll be using the slack we left between the previous knots as our new base. This is where the distinctive nettings pattern comes in. Other than that, just keep repeating the same series of knots till we get close to the bottom.

Congratulations, you now know how to Macramé. This moment of realization can be bittersweet, so you may want to take a moment to compose yourself. (After all, tears will make the leather shrink!)

Step 6: Knot Done Yet!

Once we have started to reach the bottom, we'll need to attach the steel ring. Again, this is a lot simpler to show than to describe, so you may want to check out the images below before I hopelessly confuse you.

Keeping the steel ring more or less centered on the bottom of the bottle, bring the working end behind and through the steel ring to the adjacent loop. Tie your double half hitch, and repeat four more times. We are simply spiraling in and making a star pattern with the leather and steel ring. When you've fully circled the ring, trim the excess and tuck it behind. Voila!  We are done!

As far as attaching to your outfit: I have found that making a simple loop of scrap leather works great to attach to a belt. Also, I had a few keychain carabiners lying around that work just as well (if you don't mind the anachronism).

Step 7: Now What?

Now that we have our potion bottles, what should we put in them? These bottles are watertight, so let's fill them with tasty beverages. In keeping with the theme, let us examine some classic potions: Healing, Minor Poison, Haste, and Alchemist's Fire.

Peppermint Schnapps makes a wonderful healing potion (after all, most of the literature does describe a healing potion as minty, and peppermint schnapps sure does lift your spirits!)

Amaretto is a good approximation of a minor poison; they say cyanide has the taste and smell of almonds...

For the minors out there, add your favorite energy drink for your very own Potion of Haste!

Fireball whiskey makes a dandy Alchemist's Fire, just be careful not to burn yourself...

As with any alcoholic beverage, please be responsible when you enjoy yourself. I'm sure there are many more potion analogues; please post some ideas in the comment section below!

Step 8: Bring on the Glow!

Let's be honest, you came here to see some glowing potion bottles, correct? The easiest and probably the most striking is the use of glow stick fluid. I will not attempt to produce my own glow stick fluid (and neither should you), it's not necessarily safe and the chemical components are expensive/difficult to contain/dangerous (depending on the fluorescent dye chosen). If you are interested in understanding how a glow stick works, NurdRage has an excellent tutorial on youtube:

The easiest (and cheapest) method of obtaining glow fluid is to simply purchase it at a dollar store. While most glow sticks sold in stores are non-toxic, try to purchase some that actually state it on the package. Start by activating the glow stick, then clip both ends off with a pair of shears or tin snips. Pour the fluid into the bottle, taking care to watch for glass (when you activate a glow stick, you are actually breaking a glass tube filled with peroxide).

Rather than fill the entire bottle with glow fluid - which would be cost prohibitive - I cut the solution with a 1:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. Generally, it takes two "bracelet" glow sticks or one "necklace" glow stick combined with the above mixture to noticeably glow. Depending on the color, temperature, and peroxide solution this mixture can glow for up to 48 hours. In all fairness, however, the intensity will drop by half over a period of every 2 hours.

I will add that, despite being non-toxic, do NOT drink this mixture.

Step 9: A Bright Future...

So there you have it, the method of making glowing potion bottles. Now what? I'm not quite done with these, my next step will be to create a way of having a glowing drinkable potion. My idea is to embed a UV LED in the cork, along with a coin cell battery. With the addition of tonic water - which contains quinine and is fluorescent - most drinks will glow when exposed to the cap.

Now the shameless plug part: As you can see, I do have a craftsman drill and have tried to drill the corks out to put the LEDs in, but I really need a drill press to make things more precise. Maybe something like this:
*cough cough*
In fact, I could use a LOT of tools, and craftsman is a brand I prefer...

To those of you who have stuck around till the end, thanks for reading! I hope this was informative and easy to follow. I look forward to all your comments, suggestions, and criticisms (naturally).

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    20 Discussions


    4 months ago

    Best light bulb hack I've seen!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    really great! Just one Q, How does the hydrogen peroxide/water solution extend the glow time? Do you know?


    4 years ago on Step 8

    Have you considered using glycerin or another ingredient as an emulsifier so that the liquid doesn't separate?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable! If you use a UV LED of short enough wavelength (they seem to come in a couple of slightly different colors), you should be able to get the glow fluid fluoresce even after its original glow has died away.


    4 years ago on Step 8

    I just tried this and I had the same experience as you show in your pictures and all though the effect is pretty good, I really didn't like how the glow fluid sat in the bottom of the jar. I added a drop of dish soap and shook it up which helped quite a bit.


    5 years ago

    You gave me the idea for my cosplay and my science fair project thanks


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, Have you tried putting light and battery in the metal ring in the bottom?


    6 years ago

    This is a brilliant idea!


    6 years ago

    What was the Mason jar for?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    i musy be doing something really wrong when it comes to the glowing water....i mix the hydrogen peroxide, water and liquid, but the liquid just lays on the bottom of the jar...any suggestions?

    i thought i would be able to use a light bulb for the jar since there similar but still great im sooooo going to do this

    I just did our lampshade-which-is-actually-a-vase following your instructions! You're right, it's so much easier to just go by the pictures! Thanks for taking the time to make this instructable :)


    8 years ago on Step 6

    From step 3 to step 6 it would be MUCH easier with a video, and could you make some photos of how to attach it to an outfit, please?


    8 years ago on Step 9

    These potion pots are Great!!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful Instructable! Your photos are total eye candy, very magic.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Welldone, a nice I'ble... Speaking as a Scout leader it's nice to see someone who remembers the knots we teach! hehehe


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! I've seen these before, maybe I should try to make one of my own... After all, I built a combination circular/table saw here.