Everybody gets thirsty at some time or another, and at some venues, you have to bring in your own liquid refreshment. How can you maintain immersion while taking care of your hydration needs? Really easily, with just a few materials and a day of preparation. Come on, I’ll show you!

For this project, you’ll need:

  • A clean, dry, recycled plastic jug or bottle (for the examples shown above, I used a Tropicana Farmstand juice bottle and an Arizona Iced Tea jug. Below, I used a Simply Orange juice bottle.)
  • Sandpaper
  • A permanent marker
  • A hot glue gun with sticks
  • Chalkboard finish matte paint (I used “relic” gray)
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Felt, twine, or decorative trim
  • Metallic acrylic paint (I used antique gold)
  • Sponge brushes
  • Mod Podge or other non-toxic sealant

Sand the surface of your bottle, and brush off the dust. This makes the plastic rough so that the paint will stick better.


Draw a preliminary design on the sanded bottle with a permanent marker. I went with the Latin word “aqua” and the alchemical symbol for water. Once you get your design drawn, go over it with hot glue from your hot glue gun. Don’t worry about it looking sloppy; the messier it is, the more ancient it looks.

Using chalky or matte finish paint, cover the bottle except for the threads, where the cap goes. You want to avoid painting that spot for a couple reasons: first, you might drink out of the top of the bottle and you don’t want paint to chip at your mouth or where you pour your drink. Second, the cap won’t fit anymore if you paint the threads.

You might also leave the bottom unpainted. I prefer to do this just so that I can easily glimpse inside at the contents of the bottle.

Allow the paint to dry thoroughly between coats.

Once the gray paint is thick enough, dilute about a tablespoon of black acrylic paint in about 12 ounces of water (this is approximate; it doesn’t have to be exact) until you have a translucent black solution. Cover your work surface with a lot of newspaper and have lots of paper towels handy for this next step: use a sponge brush and coat the bottle with this black paint solution, allowing it to fill in cracks and crevices on the bottle. This “ages” the bottle and gives it more depth. Wipe excess off with a damp paper towel.

Note: this step is MESSY. It should be done over a sink and away from anything you don’t want to get black paint on.

“Sucus Alligatoris” roughly translates to “juice of the alligator” and its alchemical symbol is a “G” encircling a lightning bolt (get it?)

When the paint solution has dried completely, use a dollop of metallic acrylic paint and your thumb to dry-rub a metallic surface onto your design, as well as any protruding parts on the bottle. A little of this gold paint goes a long way; use it very sparingly and add more as needed.

For the bottle above, I hot-glued a matching circle of felt to the top (to hide the original logo).


You might also use some fake leather and stitch over the cap and handle, as I did for the gallon jug, or you might glue twine around the top as I did for the orange juice bottle.


The twine is wrapped and hot-glued around the cap, and a separate piece is wrapped and hot-glued around the neck of the bottle, to give the illusion of one solid piece of twine. Then, to cover the ends, I used a third piece, tied some knots, and glued it into place.

There are lots of other ways to paint and decorate your water jugs or bottles. For example, using a glossy light color gives an illusion more like pottery. You might glue plastic or foam bits (like spiders, or skulls) in place before painting.

Finally, once you’re done, cover with a coat of Mod Podge and let dry.

Wash carefully by hand as needed. Don’t put these in a microwave or dishwasher.

There you are! Drink heartily and share with your friends, and show us what you made!