Create a Spooky Specimen Jar for Halloween in 4 Simple Steps

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Channel your inner mad scientist to create a specimen jar for Halloween decor in four simple steps.

Glass jar with lid (recycled, Mason, Atlas, etc.)
Grow creature toy
Vintage-style label (some good sources here, here, and here)
Gel medium or Mod Podge
Walnut stain-type ink pad
Sponge brush
Water source to fill jar
Small cup of water
Waterproof ink pen


1. Fill your jar with water and place grow creature toy inside of it. Follow instructions on the toy’s package, ensuring water amount and jar size are sufficient. The grow creature may take a few days to reach its full potential.

2. Dab the sponge brush in the ink pad, dip it in the cup of water, and gently wring it out so it is moist but not overly saturated. Run the sponge brush over your vintage-style label to give it a distressed effect. Add more diluted ink to the piece if you prefer a darker result, but don’t let the paper get soggy. Lightly crumple the paper, and then straighten it back out. Set label aside, and allow it to dry. Rinse the sponge brush thoroughly to remove any trace of ink, and allow it to dry, too.


3. Once the label is dry, use the waterproof ink pen to write your creature’s species name on it, as well as the number it is in your “collection.” Embellish your typography and add additional observations about the specimen as you like.


4. Use the sponge brush to cover the front side of the specimen label with a coat of the gel medium or Mod Podge to seal it. Adhere the label to the jar with the same coating but on its back.


Repeat steps 1-4 to create as many jars as you like. Your odd collection will make for a great Halloween party centerpiece on a tablescape or lined along a mantle. Back light the jars with a small lamp to enhance their magnified and spooky effect.

-Tint the water with food dye in yellow or green once the creature is fully grown.
-Fill jars with props like rubber eyeballs, plastic fingers, or odd-looking root vegetables (ginger is a great option).

We’d love to see your version of the specimen jar! Share a link with a photo in the comments section.


About Rachel K

Rachel is the creative director of The Wood and Watch jewelry and the editor-in-chief of ParentGuide magazine. She knows how to wield a flame to shape metal; loves to travel; and is passionate about art, antiques, DIY, and nature.

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One Response to Create a Spooky Specimen Jar for Halloween in 4 Simple Steps

  1. Jenny Burgess 10/17/2014 at 4:59 pm #

    This is so cute. Is it sad that I want this as year-round home decor?

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