Thursday, March 1, 2012

DIY Steampunk Apothecary Jars

 For my recent wedding, we wanted to create a steampunk feel to the whole thing. We didn't have a large budget, so I wanted to find some very inexpensive ways to keep the steampunk feel going in the table decor. Enter: Tiny apothecary jars!!

What is an apothecary jar exactly, and how is it steampunk?
It's a small, covered jar, formerly used by druggists to hold pharmaceuticals, or dried herbs and remedies. These can be steampunk-y in a mad-scientist way... a 19th century, dusty shelves of strange potions and mixtures with a lone Edison-style light bulb swaying creepily in an office or lab somewhere kind of way, no?


- A collection of apothecary jars (from thrift shops, old vitamin bottles, or dollar stores)
- A collection of apothecary labels, sized to fit onto your bottles and jars, printed on regular paper
- Scissors
- White craft glue
- A bowl
- A cheap paintbrush you don't mind getting glue on
- A bit of water

I found these at Dollar Giant (Dollar Tree in the USA). $1.25 got me 4 of these itty bitty glass vials with cork stoppers. Yes, I may have found a spider egg sack in one of the jars (in the packaging with the lid on... but hey, for that cheap I don't care if it introduces a new species of insect from China...)

Next, I mined the internet for a variety of freely downloadable old apothecary labels. Here are some links to some great free downloadable and printable apothecary labels:

I also happened to have a book of Natural Remedies which contained old labels from the 1800's - 1930's (hope to share those with you soon!) I simply scanned them and sized them all in Illustrator (to be sure they'd fit on my tiny jars), and sent it off to Staples to be printed.

I printed the labels on regular paper stock... this is important, because if they are on paper that is too heavy, they won't glue to the jars! I wouldn't recommend printing these off at home on your inkjet printer, simply because inkjet run easily, and since we are adhering these to the jars with rather wet glue, you don't want to chance it. Laser copies from your local copy place are your best bet.

Cut the labels out, like so:

cut out

final product

I then used a 50/50 mixture of plain old white glue (the same stuff they use in kindergarten) and water, and painted the back of the label using a paintbrush. Carefully place the label onto the glass, wipe away the excess glue, and you have yourself some beautiful did-it-yourself apothecary jars!

I also took a trip to a local thrift shop which had a few very fun jars for some very small change. Different shapes and sizes of jars and bottles really added to the charm, I found.

Yes, that says "Diarrhea Mixture"...

 Some pictures of the finished product on the tables....


  1. Would love a copy of all the labels you used for your wedding! I love the Natural Remedies old labels from the 1800's - 1930's. Fantastic Job!


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