My Bookshelf Becomes a Witch’s Apothecary



I have a knack or maybe it’s a need for going overboard with decorations for holidays. Halloween is absolutely no exception.  I love Halloween, it’s one of my absolute favorite holidays.  Since it is the first day of October, I thought I would share with you how to create a witch’s apothecary in your home for next to nothing.  I have in my home a large built-in bookcase and while most of the year it sits filled with family photos and books of all types, during the holidays it serves as a showcase for my decorating abilities. During Christmas it is filled with Santas of all shapes and sizes and during Halloween it becomes a witch’s apothecary. I always start this project out by finding in my home various items that can be used. These items do not need to be Halloween in nature but when put up there they make for a dark assortment of items with just the right touch of spooky. For instance in my home I was able to find:

  • Books about ghosts or the paranormal
  • A black apple that I used for a bookend in my kitchen
  • A large ornate key that hung on my wall
  • A black lantern that I use for décor
  • A lidded candy jar
  • A Halloween sign I had purchased years before
  • Two witch figurines that sat collecting dust

I started with this assortment and added on. When I’m decorating I always try to figure out what I can recycle and use in another way. The joy of decorating for Halloween is that you have the freedom of recycling just about anything and you can make it work! For instance glass jars, vases, and candle holders became various potion ingredient bottles. A coffee tin was painted to become a can filled with spider parts. A Fushigi ball and a candle holder became a crystal ball. Large hard covered kids books were covered in construction paper and then labeled to become spell books! As long as you have the imagination you can create just about anything.

The labels for the bottles and the potion ingredients themselves were the most time consuming parts. I visited a great site where I picked out the most disgusting sounding ingredients and made it happen. I had for my apothecary:

  • Armadillo Bile – green water and flour
  • Asphodel – broken twigs
  • Belladonna – dead flowers
  • Bezoar – rocks of various shapes and sizes
  • Black Beetle Parts – fake bugs
  • Crushed Snake Fangs – flour
  • Bubotuber – purple water and flour
  • Sneezewort – green water and enough flour to make it seem like snot
  • Scurvy grass – either dead grass or Spanish moss
  • Dragon blood – blue water with glitter
  • Fluxweed – Dead long grass
  • Frog Brain – red water with sponges

Now while these items might not be accurate in their look or feel, when they are up on the shelf they look perfect.

I purchased very few items and the total cost was less than $20. For the Halloween lights, spiderwebs, black rose, fake spider, cauldrons, gourds, fake cockroaches, fake rat, and fake snake I went to my local dollar store. I purchased every single item there.

All the signs and labels were created by me. The witch’s apothecary sign was made from a simple cardboard box. It was cut to shape and painted. All the book labels and ingredient labels were created on your basic white printer paper. I found the outline of the tags I wanted on the wonderful site After finding the shape I wanted I used photoshop to create the spooky skeleton and the surrounding scrollwork. After plugging each item into a word document I was able to get the wording just right. The book labels I hand wrote out. On all of them I used the same process to age the paper. While there are a lot of sites that use a combination of burning and baking, I find that method not only a major fire hazard but stinky. I use a very simple process. First you make some tea using tea bags. You let the tea bags cool outside of the water (note that the more they cool or dry out the darker the color will become). I then cut the edges of the labels to look like it had been ripped or torn. I then sat down with my tea bags ready and dabbed each label until I got the desired color. To curl the paper or give the paper that aged crispness I used a hair dryer on the hot setting while the tags were still wet.

I then put all the items up on the bookcase and strung some very cheap spiderwebs across the front. With very little effort and whole bunch of creativity I was able to create a witch’s apothecary for under $20!


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