Friday, September 3, 2010

Making Labels for Apothecary Jars

EDT's Count Down To Halloween!
Kassandra of kaleidoskopicromance, a true master in the world of minatures, brings us this weeks installment of EDT’s countdown to Halloween. Do yourself a favor and take a look at her tiny creations. Her minature books are just amazing. They are all so detailed, and beautiful it would be hard to choose just one for your little library. And she has the sweetest little Ouija boards too.

Making labels for potion and Apothecary jars

Every year I peruse the Halloween stores to find props for my Halloween party. One of my most sought-after items is Halloween labels. Yes, we all know the kid-friendly, colorful labels that most stores carry, but if you are looking for witch potion or apothecary labels, it is unlikely that you will find them. Although Martha Stewart has come up with a formidable set of antique-looking labels, they can get you very quickly out of your party budget. So if you would like to save some bucks and have lots of fun designing you own labels, here is what you need to do.

First, decide what kind of label you would like. You can go for the “Witch Potion” look for a witch or wizard theme, or the “Antique Apothecary” look, for the mad scientist theme. Once you decide, you need the labels themselves. You can design them from scratch if you want. Here you have some templates (Adobe Photoshop woks fine with these JPEG images):

Play with fonts and colors (although your best bet is black), and re-size them to fit your needs. You may also download some pre-made labels – You will need Adobe Acrobat for these:
Vintage Apothecary Labels (courtesy of EatDrinkChic by Amy Moss)
Commercial Apothecary Labels (courtesy of JustSomethingIMade by Cathe Holden)
Blank Label templates (courtesy of SlightlyOffCenter by Jack)
And of course, you may always search the net for more templates or designs.
For the witch labels, you may rely on the classics: Eyes of Newt, Spider Hair, Lizard Legs… Or go for the “natural herbs” stuff: Hellebore, Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade, Foxglove, Wolfsbane… For the Apothecary: Arsenic, Poison, Aqua Ammonia, Powdered Alum, Sulphur, Epsom Salt, Arsenate of Lead, Hydrochloric Acid, Chloroform… The only limit is your imagination!
To make the labels seem aged, you need to dye the paper with tea. DO IT FIRST, before printing the labels! Otherwise, the ink will run when it comes in contact with the water. You may use any tea you have handy, but strong black tea works better (I personally use Irish Breakfast Tea by Twinnings).

There are two methods to dye the paper:
* First method (this one gives the paper a uniform dye): Brew the tea; let it cool and pour it into a plastic bin. Soak the paper in the tea for 1 hour. Remove it, and let it dry completely on paper towels.
* Second method: Heat a mug of water and submerge one bag of tea. Let stand 1 minute. Then take out the teabag and slide it on the paper, squishing it with a spoon (be careful, it will be hot!). Use it thoroughly over the entire surface,
except for the edges. You may refresh the bag in the brewed tea if needed. Let it dry completely – I use a clothespin to hang the paper, to allow the remaining of water to make different stain designs over it as it drips. This is my preferred method, because the tea makes stains of different intensity in the paper.

Once the paper is completely dry, you can print your labels. You may spray them with a clear sealant to protect them if you wish. Cut them out and stick them to your jars. You may use double-sided tape paper or a regular school glue stick (Elmer’s works wonders!).
For the jars, you may use any glass container or bottle you may have lying around at home; the more different they are the better to achieve the Apothecary look! If the lid is somehow quelling the effect, place a small cloth over the opening and tie around the neck with a bit of cord. Or you can purchase Apothecary jars like the ones Michael’s sells.
Filling them is also easy. For the “classic witch” look you can use plastic items (spiders, ants, bats, eyeballs…) or even candy (candy corn, gummy worms…). For the “natural herbs” you can use any spice that you have in your kitchen: basil, oregano, dried tomatoes, pepper, tea… For the “Apothecary look”, use any white powder: salt, sugar, baking soda, flour; also water – many lab solutions are clear (chloroform, acid…). You may also use food coloring to dye the water.

But hey! Who says you can’t have this awesome look all year round? Just print your labels with the name of anything that needs to be labeled (for your kitchen or your bathroom), and enjoy a bit of the Halloween season every day! Here are some extra labels for you to enjoy, courtesy of Jack and Amy Moss:
Bath Apothecary Labels
Spice Labels
Tea Labels

Kassandra is a dark Victorian lady living in what she considers the frantic 21st (or XXI, as she prefers) century. She is married to a true Gothamite who indulges and occasionally shares her obsessions. She is a fan of decadent decoration, velvet, wax seals, quills and parchment paper, thunderstorms, Absinthe, and the macabre. When she is not crafting she spends most of her free time writing, reading gothic novels, watching classic horror movies and navigating the Internet, always in a classy, 17th-century ship with white sails (surfing? I beg your pardon?).


sillycut said...

Thanks for reminding me, I've wanted to do this for ages ;))) I love that chemical laboratory look...
will pimp my kitchen!

best, jana

DJ Selchie said...

LOVE this!! I've tried tea-dying to create a parchment look for letter writing and used the teabag-squish method. It takes a little doing, but it gets fun results. :)

While trying to make hanging labels for my own apothecary set years back, I used something similar to your idea for uniform tea dyeing, but I think all I had was light tea... ;) My labels were done w/a felt tip so they smeared & bled (though written on after dyeing), so your method makes me wanna create a whole new set! ^_^

My first batch was done on rectangular & round metal-framed labels bought at an office supply store. Those look neat too, if someone's afraid of using adhesives or wants something to hang 'round the bottle necks on a string. :)

Your ideas look -wonderful- for more uniform results, n' I can't wait to try 'em out! Thanks for the cool how-to! ^_^