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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the craftiest of them all? You are—with a few simple tips on creating a simply ghoulish witch’s kitchen!
What’s the Idea?
The Witch’s Kitchen is a concept that has grown in popularity since it was first spotted as a trend a few years back. The concept is simple: fill jars and bottles with gristly-looking concoctions, label them, and add a few props to complete the look.
Options run from simple (and often humorous) to more elaborately-staged presentations. Luckily, you can put together a basic Witch’s Kitchen with just a few supplies, many of which you may already have on hand.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to start collecting bottles and jars for your Witch’s Kitchen items. These needn’t be in perfect condition; in fact, slightly imperfect containers will add a “weathered” and very authentic effect to your completed project.
Some die-hard Halloween fans purchase old or unique containers for this purpose. Search online auctions or the back of your very own kitchen cabinets to find interesting (and spooky!) bottles and jars.
Thoroughly wash the inside of each jar (wider-mouthed containers, such as honey or pickle jars, tend to be your best bet). Be sure to save and wash the lids, too. Now soak your jars in hot water for an hour or two, until the labels loosen. Remove the labels once the glue is soft enough. If a bit of paper or paste remains, don’t worry; you can cover the area with the label you will eventually be making.
Prepping Your Jar Lids
Corked bottles have an authentic apothecary look. These are perfect, and there’s no prep (see image at left).
However, if you’re using jars with meatl lids: for a scary look, spray paint each jar lid black. If your jar or bottle comes with a cork, so much the better; this can either be spray painted or left natural.
Do this step outside—spray paint fumes can be harmful, and an open window might not provide enough ventilation for your safety. Place the lids on old newspaper before spraying if you’d like to protect the area you’re working on. Allow all lids and corks to dry thoroughly before handling.
The black lids can be used as they are, or wound with twine (the “scruffier” the better) after they’re placed on your jars.
Now comes the fun part: inventing gristly, ghostly or just plain gross fillers for your jars. Try the following easy-to-find items for your jar contents:
- Werewolf Claws: Cashew nuts, split in half.
- Shrunken heads: Try our tutorial here.
- Frog’s Livers: Raisins or other small, dried fruits.
- Snake Oil: Small plastic or rubber snakes in oil and food coloring.
- Shrinking Test Subject: A mini prop skeleton in a jar of water.
- Heretic Skin: Peels of apple (the fruit—not the apple’s skins), allowed to dry (they will shrivel and take on a “peeled skin” appearance).
- Seamonster Babies: Grow-in-water novelty toys; try an octopus, manta ray or other sea creature. Stuff into jar so that the actual animal is less identifiable.
- Garden Gnome Heads: Several shrunken apple heads and a handful of dried moss, obtainable at a floral crafts shop.
- Eye of Newt: Whole dried cloves.
- Ghost Droppings: small marshmallows, pushed together.
- Coffin Nails: Any large-size hardware nails will do; add a sprinkling of dirt.
Making the Labels
It’s easy to make labels for your creepy containers. Place a few sheets of computer printer paper in cooled tea or coffee. Remove when the sheets are well stained. While your pages are drying, create a document with names for each of your items. Allow plenty of space between each.
Print the sheet of names onto the stained and dried paper. Now cut or tear off each label. Apply glue to your label backs and place the labels on your jars. If you’re planning on using the jars again next year, apply a thin coat of varnish over each label. (NOTE: Do NOT keep items that might degrade or mold. Empty the jar, wash it and put it away, then re-stuff it next Halloween.)
Displaying Your Handiwork
If you’re handy, you can refurbish an old piece of shelving to house your devilish delights. You’ll be refurbishing in reverse; try to rough up the look of the shelf as much as possible. Add some dollar-store spider webs for added dramatic effect.
You can also forego the shelving altogether and simply place your bottles and jars on a special area of your kitchen counter. Make sure your placement is easily visible to visitors at that fabulous Halloween bash you’re planning. If necessary, set up your “kitchen” on a small table in a high-traffic area of your home.
Add some props to your display, such as skulls, spooky candles and a prop cauldron. “Severed” body parts or plastic newts, rats and other creatures are great additions, too. A motion-sensor activated prop can add hilarity to your party by surprising (and scaring) passing guests.
Use your creativity and have fun!