Friday, October 1, 2021

DIY Potion Bottles


Will and I had a ton of fun making these spooky potion bottles for our Halloween decor, but I was the most stoked to figure out that I could make them from the antique (but worthless) bottles that we're continually pulling out of the back of our woods.

Dear 1950s, please stop leaving your trash lying around.

To make these spooky potion bottles, I first scrubbed 70 years' worth of mud out of some old amber beer bottles. I have so many of these lying around that I'm sick of them, and while I ought to just recycle them, I always feel like I ought to DO something with them, you know? I mean, they're part of history!

It's the history of people bringing beer to a drive-in movie, guzzling it, and then throwing out the bottles, so, not exactly interesting history, but still. History.

When the bottles were clean and dry, I painted them with the primer plus flat black spray paint that I'm currently obsessed with (it's the new slate grey!), then Will and I drew our designs on the bottles using pencil and traced over them with hot glue.

My hot glue devil's trap is pretty killer, right? Lay the hot glue on thick, so that it stands out really well later, and rub away all the little hot glue strings so they don't mess up the painting that you'll do later. 

After this step, you're mostly just going to be dry-brushing the bottles in different colors, letting them hang out to dry between coats. It took Will and I a couple of days to finish, but most of that is hands-off time.

We used artist's acrylics for all the painting. Just between us, I use them even when craft acrylics are called for, because I like how thick the paint is, and how saturated the colors are.

The first coat to be dry-brushed on should be black. Don't worry about covering the entire bottle, which should already be flat black; instead, you're deliberately covering the hot glue, especially in the cracks and corners where it meets the glass.

The next color to be dry-brushed on is whatever you want for the final color of the bottle. Will and I made all of our bottles grey (slate grey?!?), but brown/bronze would be really cool, too.

You still want to mostly cover the bottle with this color, but leave a lot of the base color showing underneath. Also try not to get any of the paint into those areas where the hot glue meets the glass; you want those lines and cracks to stay black to emphasize the embossed look you'll be adding later.

After this, Will and I added a few more colors, just a little and very lightly, to give the bottles more depth and texture and age. Some darker and lighter greys, a little bit of brown, tiny bit more of black, etc. It was a nice day, we were listening to Halloween music, and Matt was puttering around outside, too. Why not hang out, add a zillion more colors, and enjoy your kid's company?

My devil's trap looks pretty great, right?

I don't have a good picture of this next step, because I was having too magical of an afternoon to even so much as breathe too loudly, much less take tutorial photos. But in the background of the below photo, you can see that Will is finger-painting silver paint onto the very top of her hot glue designs. 

Use your absolute shiniest, most silver paint, and dab it on so that none of it gets into those cracks that you so carefully painted black and kept that way.

Is there much better than shirtsleeves weather on a sunny early October day?

To make the tops, we used whatever bits and bobs and fancy little things that I had squirreled away. You can sand the winery stamp off of a real cork--

--then slice it and shave it down so that it looks like it's a stopper in use when you glue it to the top of your bottle. 

You can glue any further embellishments to the top of the cork, but I have a billion eye pins on hand, it it worked really well to add my embellishments to the eye pin, push it through the top of the cork all the way through the bottom, and then glue the bottom so it didn't show.

Use an epoxy glue to attach the cork to the top of the bottle--

--and then sit back and admire your handiwork!

Will and I had a lot of fun making these, and we both think they look super awesome. I wouldn't be opposed to adding a few new bottles to our set every year...

...and we might just leave them out all year round, especially considering the large percentage of the rest of our decor that also wouldn't be out of place in a Halloween store.

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