DIY Apothecary Jar: not for the OCD


What does that basket even say?  I don't know, but I must have it.

Before I begin, I must admit I have a soft spot in my heart for vintage products with writing on them.  A plain basket?  Eh.  A basket that has faded paint spelling out "Boothbay Harbor Oysters, 1875"?  Oh my God I want it.  I don't really know the psychology behind it, I guess once there's a story on it, it just becomes a mystery how this basket wound up in front of me, waiting for me to adopt it. Also, there is a > potential for ghosts.  I was lucky enough to nab this vintage marble apothecary jar at an antique shop, however, all the writing had faded off and the only part left was the chipped gold rim.


At least I think it is marble.  It's probably marble right?

I was a bit bummed it didn't have remnants of "Ess. of En.Daffo: fils" or some other incomprehensible writing for a remedy that probably was relatively ineffective back in the day, but the owner assured me that it would be WAY more expensive if it did.  So that's when I started drumming my fingers with an evil grin, a la Monty:


I could MAKE the writing!  Yes.  Except I didn't really want to, because I'm lazy.  So I came home, looked up images of fun apothecary labels, and printed out a few.


I was inspired by these jars

So I started cutting them and sticking them on, but none of them looked perfect to me.


Mind you, they didn't look bad, and actually now that I'm looking at them again I might like some of them better, but at the time, I hated them all and wanted nothing to do with them.  I'm fickle like that.  I actually threw them in the air in a fit of rage.  But so, there is nothing like failure to motivate a person, so I decided to make my own.

I found a thin sharpie, because paint wasn't gonna happen.  I decided to model it after the third one down in style.  I figured this would go in the bathroom to hold cotton balls and the like, and I wanted it to have a fresh feeling, so I decided to write "Tinct. Mentha Piperita," but there is a whole slew of delightful essences and ointments one can choose from if you so desire.  The writing part is a bit hard, but keep in mind that imperfections help make it look authentic.  I actually tried to make the spacing a bit different and some lines thicker than others.


My first go at it, I bunged it up and wrote TINT.  Then I was like, no worries, this will come off.  And then it DIDN'T come off and I freaked out, and then I tried nail polish remover and it worked.  When in doubt, always try nail polish remover, that stuff will eat through anything.

So this was my first pass at it.  What is that in the bottom corner, you say?  Why, it is old-timey apothecary measurements!


You can find the website



You can use drams or scruples or whatever sounds weirdest/looks coolest.  Mine actually is "A scruple thus," and I have no idea what that means, but (so sorry) frankly my dear, I don't give a dram. (So so sorry, I had to, you see?)

After the first pass, I went over it again with the pen to make it look a solid black, and once that dried, I did what I always do, which is do my best to ruin it.  In this case, I wanted it to match the chipped, faded gold rim, so I took a paper towel, dipped it in nail polish remover, and kind of dapped and swiped at it, especially around the writing that I had bunged up (the piperita part).  I found it worked best to lightly wet it and then chip at it with my nail.  After that, I went around everything with a q-tip to get the smudges off,  I wanted you chipped, not smeared, goddam you.  But really, my goal was to make it look worn with time and use.  It came out pretty well, but still has a few smears I can't reach that will haunt my dreams.


Les voila.

After that, it is just a coat of sealant and we are done!  Not perfect, but I much prefer it to the blank jar, and it will look perfectly lovely displaying my tampons.