Potions, Poisons, Tonics and Grenades – Part Four

floral paper or parchment

I have been looking forward to making this grenade since I made the first round of potions and poisons back in October.  Initially, the plan was to build the grenades out of clear Christmas baubles, filled with liquid and sealed with silicone caulk but I had a few logistical issues with them. Then I happened upon the perfect jars for the job.

I managed to misplace my gold mica, so made do with some edible glitter that I bought to experiment with drinkable potions and tonics, and added some glycerine to give the fluid a slightly more viscous consistency, since the flames it produces are described as “sticky.”


My reference image, from the Dragon Age wiki

Because the jars have clear plastic screw tops, I made a quick cover for the lid out of craft foam and spray paint.  I’ve had my Inquisition wax seal stamp for months and have so far only used it on a couple of scrolls from the Inquisitor and advisors, so I decided to cover the top in a layer of wax, stamped the Inquisition insignia into it and carefully fitted the wick with a hot skewer.

Antivan Fire - small signed

The edible glitter isn’t quite as visible as the mica indoors, but my husband got some great photos of the swirling effect outside in the sunshine.  I love the edited version above so much that I’m going to have to redo the wick at some point to add a blue LED to the tip!

And with the new addition to my Inquisitor’s arsenal of potions, I decided it was time to make…


floral paper or parchment


I keep the chest that came with the Inquisitor’s Edition of DA:I on top of a bookcase behind my desk and periodically I looked up at it and wished I had another for storing random cosplay bits in.  So when I got my hands on some thin but sturdy card and a few rolls of textured craft paper, I decided to see if I could make a potion storage box.  I’ve made a few revisions of the design and materials for when I come to build it again, but I am really quite pleased with my mock-up.  I do wish that I had waited for my Worbla to arrive instead of trying to use craft foam to make the gold edging, but I know for next time.

Potion box 02
Inquisitor’s Potion Box with the Inquisitor’s Edition chest.  I even accidentally managed to misalign my lock in the same way!

The box is lined with black foam and I made a cushion to support the bottles from some off-cuts of wadding and faux suede.  It will comfortably fit four of the rounded potion bottles; a grenade (if you don’t mind bending the wick back into shape afterwards) and two potions; or one of each of the three shapes of bottles.  I still plan to make a larger version that can hold more bottles but the little box will pack nicely into my prop bag and will give me somewhere to keep my potions safe while traveling to and from events.

Potion box 01
Antivan Fire grenade, lyrium, jar of bees and health potion


Photography by Darren Allen



Potions, Poisons, Tonics and Grenades – Part Three

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to handle the Jar of Bees.  It’s one of my favourite grenades and I really wanted to do it justice.  As well as being a nifty little weapon when required, it has a beautiful image to go with it.

My first couple of bees were made from pipe cleaners.  My first idea was to cut down short lengths and create stripes with a marker pen, then to glue on tissue paper wings, but I really wasn’t very happy with them.  My second attempt, made from a pair of pipe cleaners, was significantly larger, but it still didn’t look the way I wanted it to.

First attempt on the left, second attempt on the right

I picked up a couple of colours of Fimo on my last trip to HobbyCraft with the intention of using it to make latex moulds, and after a couple of false starts, I had my first (wingless) bee!

The wings themselves were something of a nightmare.  I found that the translucent Fimo became ridiculously sticky after very little conditioning, and as the Fimo softens further in the first stages of baking, I thought I’d probably end up with a huge blob adorning the backs of my bees.  I briefly tried using wire to stablilise them with no success, so I ultimately ended up rolling out thin sheets of Fimo, baking it for 25 minutes and then cutting out the wings with a craft knife.  After adhering the wings with a small blob of Fimo, they went back in the oven on the pre-hardened bees for a further five minutes.

And they look fab in their jar!

All I need to do now is to make up a label for it (thoroughly defaced by Sera, of course!) and my bees are good to go.

Potions, Poisons, Tonics and Grenades – Part Two

A few people have asked me what I used to make my rheoscopic fluid, so I’ll put my current list of ingredients at the bottom of this post.  It’s a little different for each potion, simply because the different colours in the liquids changes how effective the swirls are.

Antivan Fire Grenade

Antivan Fire Grenade

I first attempted the Antivan Fire grenade with gold calligraphy ink, but it didn’t have anywhere close to the effect I wanted.  So I ordered some gold mica instead, which makes a much better “flame” effect.  The video below was taken just after I had finished stirring in the mica and I was impressed by how long the water stayed in motion.

The reason there’s a thin layer of foam on top in the second video is because I added a drop of dish soap to keep nasties from growing in it once the liquid is sealed in the bottles.  I think in future I’ll stick with a little surgical spirit instead!  I’m not fond of the foamy look and because the whole effect hinges on the movement of the liquid, bubbles form on the surface really easily.

Confusion Grenade

Confusion Grenade

I couldn’t get hold of purple ink for the Confusion grenade, so I ended up mixing blue and garishly violet food colouring until it was a shade I could live with.

While I was at it, I mixed up a third version of the Tears of the Dead poison, using a darker green and some extra white mica.  Again, the foam really doesn’t work for me (who knew that a single drop of cheap dish soap in 500ml of water would be so bubbly?!)  I love the Antivan Fire in particular.  I was considering using an LED for this one, too, but the gold really does catch the light really well and makes it look like it’s lit from within.

Antivan Fire Grenade, Tears of the Dead v3, Confusion Grenade

Generally, I’m really pleased with how well they have worked!  I’ve got four little bottles on my desk and they’re absolutely hypnotic.  Now that I’ve worked out how much of everything to use, I can swap out the dish soap in the next batch and, hopefully, all I will need to do with these four is to dress up their bottles to finish them off.  Originally, I wasn’t going to seal the corks in so that I could reuse the bottles, but having splattered Antivan Fire over my keyboard when enthusiastically shaking the bottle, I can see them making a horrible mess of clothes and props if jostled (fortunately sticky flames causing 46 damage every second for thirty seconds isn’t a feature!).

Rheoscopic Fluid

The base for all my potions is ink/food colouring in tap water.  A little colouring goes a really long way, so I started off with two drops in 500ml and adjusted it depending on how deep I wanted the colour. I did find that the darker the colour, the more careful I had to be with everything else.  Adding too much mica to darker water just turns it into sparkly dark water and too little meant that it didn’t show up at all.

Into the water, I added a teaspoon (approx 5ml) of silver calligraphy ink and the very tip of a teaspoon of cosmetic-grade mica.  The calligraphy ink alone worked, but I got a much better result using it in tandem with the mica.

About that much!

The Antivan Fire was a little bit different.  Because it’s described as a “sticky fire,” I wanted it to be a little more viscous than the others.  So after colouring the 500ml of water, I mixed in just shy of three teaspoons of vegetable glycerine and shook the bottle thoroughly until they mixed.  Instead of using silver calligraphy ink, I used the same amount of white mica as the others, then added twice as much in dark gold mica.

The final step for all the potions was a few drops of dish soap, but surgical spirit is probably a better bet and should also stop anything unpleasant developing in the water.

As you can see above, the pots of mica I have are really tiny but I’ve barely used a third of it so far.

So that’s four out of fifteen potions, tonics and grenades from Inquisition thus far.  My plan is to make the full set plus one or two of my favourites from DA:O and DA II, like the Concentrated Crow Poison and Avernus’s Experimental Draught.  I just need to figure out how on earth to do the effects!

Potions, Poisons, Tonics and Grenades – Part One

It’s the details that really bring a piece of fiction into the real world.  I had some ideas for how I wanted my potions to look and how I was going to pull it off, but my husband provided the inspiration for these first ones.  It’s taken a bit of fiddling to work out the ideal ratios for each one to get the best effect.

As I only had green ink on hand, I started off with the Tears of the Dead poison.

Tears of the Dead

I was surprisingly pleased with how the first attempt worked out, but I quickly found that while it looked great in natural light, the movement of the water wasn’t as pronounced as I wanted it.  My attempts to increase the green ink made it too dark to see much of anything, so I tried to compensate with silver ink which didn’t help at all and simply made it look like glittery nail polish.  After a few adjustments, I decided I was on to a winner.


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Cold Resistance Tonic

Having raided the local 24-hour Tesco for food colouring, I had a go at the Cold Resistance tonic.


I remixed the Tears of the Dead poison to match the same quantities, but in retrospect I preferred the slightly darker green of the earlier version.  I absolutely love the effect it has when lit up, so I have some submersible LEDs on the way for testing out.  I’m in two minds about fitting them into the corks, as the corks are so little and I don’t want to damage them.  I was pointed towards some pre-made LED corks, but I’m not convinced that they’ll fit my bottles properly.  I plan on painting some “frosting” on the Cold Resistance tonic, so if the corks don’t work out, the paint should hide the LED if I drop it in and let it sink to the bottom.

The Antivan Fire grenade is next on my list to try out and I’ve got a few thoughts for making the grenades themselves so that I can make the potions and grenades look a bit different.

Potion Bottles

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time hunting down bottles.  At one point I started to wonder if the only form of glass bottle that existed in 2015 were those teeny tiny miniatures that go on necklaces!  But the first few have finally turned up, so my next job is figuring out exactly what’s going to go into them.