‘Tis the season for spirit bottles!
Our spirit bottles are made from old glass bottles dug up from the ground. As such, these vintage & antique bottles have imperfections. We’ve added some magic to them, and used them to entrap evil spirits — then sealed them in with wax. Each bottle has its own spirit, complete with paper label. Artful creepy fun to display, excellent conversation pieces, and worthy of storytelling…
We’ve brought some into our spaces at the Southwest Fargo location of Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market (F.A.R.M.), but if you can’t stop by that shop, we have some spirit bottles in our repurposed Etsy shop!
We’ve sold some already at Etsy this season, and the buyer, Pete, actually tested them with an EMF reader, just like they do on Ghost Hunters! The results may surprise you… They sure surprised us! We’re sharing Pete’s story and photos with his permission:
Wanted to show you something.
I placed an EMF meter against bottle. Nothing at first, then meter goes crazy — then back to normal. Its done it again since typing this.
Sometimes a idea or thought or meme becomes real.
That’s cool with me lol.
Naturally, we can’t guarantee such super — or, should we say supernatural — results. But it is a spooky possibility!
More vintage & antique Halloween decorating ideas from our space at F.A.R.M.
- Madame Darrell, the mystic who operated out of offices throughout the West, including Deadwood and Brainerd, speaking to the spirit world and foretelling the future;
- The little schoolhouse plagued by haunted coal, spontaneous fires, and a dark spectre…but it turned out the true culprits were just as mischievous as evil spirits but far more natural.
- The teen plagued by a spirit that rattled pots and pans, threw things into trees, and whispered in the darkness, so powerful that the Lutheran church couldn’t exorcise it.
- My encounter with a Wisconsin Ghost Dog.
- A condemned man’s promise to haunt his enemies.
- My wife’s love of collecting.
When you see these, you may be tempted to not even clean out your fresh-from-the-dirt bottles — but remember, there may be dead mice and far worse hiding in them. So clean and disinfect them first! (For heaven’s sake, at least disinfect the outsides!)
Making spirit bottles is a lot easier than cleaning them. The hardest part is finding and/or cutting corks to fit the bottles and then sealing them tight with sealing wax. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here…
If your bottle is stained or streaked from its long dirt nap, you may wish to do nothing else but cork and seal them. But if you want them to look more spooky, you can put bits and bobs in there that look a bit creepy… Found natural objects, like seeds, leaves, and feathers work. And you can add bits of moss, sting, and the like as well. Not to give too many of my secrets away, but you can pull apart some strings to make wispy webs — and I like to toss in a bit of flour and other bits to make some dust and things stick to the webs. You don’t need to add much of anything really. The simple “what is that” factor behind some cloudy glass in a distinctive bottle has a large effect.
Now you need to seal the evil spirits inside the bottles. For bottles without any caps or lids, I use cork stoppers. And I like to smudge the corks up a bit to make them look older and creepier. It’s easy to do this by rubbing the corks on newspaper. Given the random range of bottle sizes, you’ll likely need to cut or chop some cork pieces to fit. That’s OK, because they look old that way too.
Whether you have cork stoppers or the original caps n the bottles, you’ll need to really make sure the spirits remain trapped in the bottles. For this, we used sealing wax. We opted for red and gold, but you can pick whatever colors you think work best. If you are doing this with children, adults should do this part — and carefully! Hot wax burns! (One note here, the gold colored sealing wax was more temperamental to work with.)
Once the bottles are sealed and the wax cooled, use twine to tie on some paper labels. We used slips of old paper from a sadly-too-damaged “lost” antique book to make labels, writing names for witches, demons, and diseases in German, Russian, and French! For finishing touches, I pulled strands of the twine part to have older looking strings. And we rumpled the edges of the paper tags too.
For the antique shop, I made a large display of the spirit bottles, hand-painting warning signs on more of the antique wooden shingles. We set down a vintage black hat and a few more seasonal items to create a little Halloween vignette. If you don’t want to make any spirit bottles yourself, you can come buy some at the antique shop — or contact us. We will ship! UPDATE: You can now find the spirit bottles and signs in our sister shop, LunaTiques!
I’ve been busy with articles again this month, including
Collecting Halloween: The history of Halloween postcards and costumes at Collector Perspectives. UPDATE: Article is now here. I’ve also written a four-part series on Sewing Pattern History: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four. Meeting in the middle, there’s also a brief note on antique costume pattern auction news. I also write regularly for the Dolls By Diane newsletter. UPDATE: Business was sold; article now posted here! This month it was all about wax dolls — from their history to some spook-tacular antique wax dolls, including 17th century wax anatomical models (like those by Anna Morandi Manzolini) and effigy dolls:
Some of you may have heard of the many Victorian mourning practices, or mourning memori, such as postmortem photography and mourning hair art. These may seem morbid, but they were deeply valued traditions involving keepsakes to remember lost loved ones by. Another common practice in mourning at the turn of that last century was that of the effigy or burial doll.
When a child had passed away, it was traditional for families who could afford it to have a lifesize wax effigy of the child made for the funeral. The wax doll would be dressed in the infant or child’s own clothing. Most often the deceased child’s own hair would be used to make the doll even more realistic. These wax dolls usually show the deceased in repose, eyes closed, as if sleeping. The backsides of the heads were made flat so that the doll would lay nicely when laid out to rest.
The effigy doll would be put on display at the wake. Often the doll would then be left by the gravesite. But we do know, from the effigy dolls which still exist today, that in some cases these wax effigy dolls were kept. Wax effigies of infants would be placed in a crib, their clothes would be changed, and otherwise treated like a real baby. The bodies of these wax dolls would be cloth, weighted with sand to give it a more realistic feel when being held. Othertimes, the effigy itself would be framed. For older children, just the head and shoulders were created in wax effigy, also with the flat backsides, so that they could be placed in a picture frame. They were the ultimate way to attempt to reject the finality of death of a loved little one.
If you’d like to read the entire article, go here.