Looking for fun and easy decorations that will impress your guests?
How about potion bottles? They are easy to make and, with a few additions, create a spooky table decoration for a Halloween or Harry Potter Theme Party.
Let’s get started.
For the potion bottles:
- various glass bottles (some with cork stoppers or lids)
- coarse sandpaper
- brown paint (tempera or washable is preferable)
- brown paper
- black pen
For the liquid potion:
- highlighters (I used yellow – the brightest, green, and pink)
For the dried potion:
- dried leaves
- dried flowers
For the full display:
- Potion bottles filled with liquid potions and dried potions
- old books (from resale shop)
- old metal cup (resale shop)
- old metal spoon (resale shop)
- black box with metal clasp (packaging from a candle)
- small vase with dried eucalyptus or sticks
- dark brown fabric
- small pieces of burlap
- black and tan cord
- grey dryer lint
- wooden surface (for photography layout)
- grey backdrop attached with clips to foam core board or cardboard (for photography layout)
- candle, small container to hold it, and match or fire starter (for photography layout)
Collect or buy a variety of sizes and different shape bottles. I waited until Hobby Lobby had a sale and purchased 8. Most of them were less than $1 with the sale price. I made sure they were different sizes before I left the store and that most of them had a cork stopper or lid of some sort.
Use the sandpaper (coarse works the best) and scratch them up, moving in all directions with the sandpaper.
Give them a light coat of brown tempera paint, gently wiped off the excess paint, and set them aside to dry.
After the paint is dry on the glass bottles, use some string or cord to wrap the neck quite a few times and tie it off. You don’t have wrap every bottle. Leave a little excess cord so that you can tie a tag on, if you want to. You can lightly brush the cork, the cord, or string with light brown to give it an antique look.
Using medium to heavy brown paper, make some tags in the shape of rectangles or circles. Write your favorite potions or antidotes on the labels with a Sharpie or black marker. Feel free to make a little outline around the edge to add some detail. Punch a hole so you can tie the tag on gently.
There are instructions for attaching labels on this website. She has labels that you can print off and glue to the bottles, but I chose to make my own labels by hand and tie them to the cords wrapped around the neck of the bottles.
Next, you can make potions by cutting off the ends of 3 different highlighters (a green, a pink, and a yellow). Soak each of them in a cup of water overnight.
The yellow really seemed to work the best, but the pink gave a very interesting iridescent color. You can watch this quick video to get more details, but it is pretty straight forward.
Using the funnel, pour the liquid in some of the bottles and add dried leaves, dried flower petals, or spices to some of the other bottles. Put all the lids on securely.
The Set Up for Halloween or Harry Potter Themed Party
Think about grouping objects in odd numbers, which will be more appealing to your guests or viewers.
In the photo above, there are:
- 3 books (2 facing one direction and 1 facing the opposite direction)
- 5 objects around the books (3 potion bottles, the decorative black box, and the old cup)
- 1 large container in the background with cord near the base and an arrangement of sticks behind it
- 1 light potion bottle with burlap for texture and old spoon
Some things to consider when you are setting up:
- Light objects in the background will distract from the object in the foreground.
- Adding texture with fabrics like burlap and cords will create interest.
- To make the scene look a older and dingy, spread some dryer lint around.
The Set Up for a Photograph
The whole set up is near a door with a large window on a small table with a wooden surface and a thick grey backdrop clipped to a foam core board.
Behind the scenes for the setup
Using a shallow depth of field will accentuate the lightest potion in the foreground of your photo. The flame creates an illusion of magic and is an attention grabber. The cork and the spoon with the potion bottle form a trio, another odd number group. With the camera on a tripod, the focus is on the label.
The liquid is not really on fire…it is a flame situated behind the bottle. (See the picture below.) Be prepared to take a few pictures, move the candle, and take a few more until the flame is exactly where you want it. BE CAREFUL when dealing with fire! The flame does not have to be very close to the actual glass bottle to get an amazing shot!
- Nikon with Nikkor 50 mm lens on tripod
- ISO 100
- 1/400 sec
Have a great time at your party or taking pictures!
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