Keeping Everything Bottled Up (in a good way!)
Lets talk about bottles and jars. We like our home and furnishings to reflect our interests and personal sense of style. (Our sense of style being quirky at best on a good day.) That being said, we believe it is the details that create the whole. We have created bottles of potion to fill the shelves in our “Alchemist’s Workroom,” collected jars for our herbs and spices and created “preserved specimens” in the name of medieval science. We’ve paired the infusions, extractions and simple syrups that we have made for our own use with bottles we’ve selected as much for their style as their contents. We then labeled them to create a style that blends fact and fantasy and fits our sensibilities.
The first thing we should mention is that bottles, generally speaking, are for liquids and therefore, should have narrow necks. That makes it easier to pour the liquid than when pouring from a wider mouthed jar. Potential bottles for your comestibles are everywhere, including those that already come with more modern contents. Have you ever noticed that the more high class or high style the manufacturers want to make their product appear, the more the bottles look like antique potion bottles? We love that look and are happy to take advantage of the trend! We are in the habit of buying nearly everything based on how good the bottle looks.
Also consider the color of the glass (no plastic allowed!) Did you know that dark colors protect the contents from the Sun? If sun protection is not an issue, then you can use clear bottles to let the contents show through or go with the darker antique colors to add some mystery. Funnels (metal is best) can help you with filling your bottles.
Now about jars. Jars are for herbs and spices, grains, lentils, nuts and the odd preserved specimen. That means they need wider necks than bottles do. The same note about using dark colors for sun protection holds true here. We started keeping our herbs and spices in the usual small spice jars but quickly outgrew them. If you buy in bulk and really use your supplies you are going to need bigger jars. We have a collection of vintage Apothecary jars that we have been collecting for years. They come in three colors and three sizes and can often be found at flea markets and junque shops. They have unobtrusive seals to keep your stores fresh and a great antique style. Another great option is to use Reagent bottles. These glass jars are used in lab work and come in sizes from 60ml (2oz.) to 1000ml (32oz.) They have ground glass stoppers and a slightly mad scientist look to them. We bought the real thing at the Online Science Mall. We’ve also seen them on Amazon. (Tip: Don’t buy the ones at your local craft store for herb use. We have found that they are irregular in size and shape and the glass stoppers don’t fit well enough for serious use.) A canning funnel can fit into the mouth of the larger jars and helps with getting stuff into the jars without making (too much of) a mess.
For really large quantities or bulky herbs we use vintage style storage jars with screw on lids. This is not the truly antique look we usually go for but the jars have really come in handy. We have seen them at grocery stores, craft stores and have even picked a few up at that perennial favorite-the Goodwill store. Jars with bail lids look great especially if you can find plain ones with no writing on them.
We have also created some “preserved specimens” for our upcoming “Alchemist’s Workroom” room set. The mouths of these jars need to be really wide. We bought some plain cylindrical jars from SKS Bottle for their wide mouths, good size and easy availability.
We’ll be writing more about creating the contents and labels coming soon!