What's in My Bag with Emily Prentice
What's in my Bag with Emily Prentice
What's in my Bag with Emily Prentice

Have you seen Emily Prentice’s work? If not, you’re truly missing out. Emily makes some of the most beautiful and unique zines I’ve ever seen and her fiber art is on another level. I’m constantly in awe of her creativity so I stoked to see what she would come up with for her What’s in my Bag post. Emily did not disappoint (did you see that illustration?!?) and I’m excited to share this post with you.

Spencre xo


What’s in My Bag?? My bag is GIANT and pretty beat up and also constantly dirty. While it isn’t the most picture-perfect choice, I opted for honesty over aesthetics! I’m an object in pretty constant motion, and my bag helps me haul a little bit of home with me where ever I might land. I take medicinal teas and tinctures in the AM/PM whenever I do end up back in my own kitchen, so most of the things I carry with me are for energetic support throughout the day. As an artist, I’m constantly finding inspiration in the natural world. I pick up all sorts of flowers, leaves, and detritus to turn into fiber art, zines, or inks. What finds its way into my bag throughout the course of the day is sometimes more interesting than what I started out with! It’s ever changing and a constant source of inspiration.

What's in my Bag with Emily Prentice

1) Moderation is a Memory tincture by Sarah M. Chappell: This alcohol-free tincture is

designed to help support reduced alcohol consumption. Over the past 18 months, I’ve

been doing some major self-work regarding my addiction, boundary, and moderation

issues. I took a reevaluation year where I spent 6 months sober and 6 months drinking

again after, and on the other side of that, I chose to not drink anymore. This particular

remedy has been a lifesaver as I’m working through the ancestral, childhood, and

personal baggage that lead me to these destructive patterns. Sarah is doing some divine

work and the healing she facilitates around recovery is something I can’t say enough

good things about.

PS I still use alcohol-based tinctures and essences and don’t personally feel like that

compromises my sobriety or my sober identity –- This choice is different for everyone! If more

alcohol-free options existed, though, I would almost certainly use them. It’s a privilege that

these don’t trigger any negative emotions or actions in me, and It’s something I’m really

grateful for. Some advice for sober herby folks in the same boat: Move towards energetic

remedies that you can use around your body instead of internally. Switch from tinctures to

teas. Invest in your own education! Take a class or find a mentor or buy great zines (like

Spencre’s!) and learn to make your own medicine.

What's in my Bag with Emily Prentice
What's in my Bag with Emily Prentice

2) Saturn Return Supplies: I carry Sister Spinster’s Saturn Return essence with me

everywhere. This formula makes me want to ROOT, and I drop some in areas where I

want to a create safe space I can keep returning to (a room, a chair, my shoes, the

bathtub). This is a necessity for an anxiety riddled, Saturn returning, water sign

overloaded person like myself.

The Saturn Return ring by Soleé Darrell is on my body every single day. I joke that it’s the

“source of my power,” but no kidding, it actually is. I feel strong with this ring on.

3) New Moon Potion by Dori Midnight x Modern Women: I think of this as my perpetual

beginner potion. I’m always most interested in the beginnings of things, a generally

positive trait that has a couple downsides, namely losing interested or biting off more

than I can chew. I use this essence to invoke that beginner energy when I’m in the

middle of a task. It keeps me from stagnating. I usually put it on my hands, because I

work with them in my art practice. I also slathered this all over my quilting machine

when I got it. A spell for constant inspiration and experimentation!

What's in my Bag with Emily Prentice

4) A Book or Zine: I never leave home without one, and this practice has singlehandedly

stopped me from incessantly scrolling on my phone! Pictured here is the first volume of

Electric Dirt by Queer Appalachia. As a queer Appalachian, I couldn’t pass up the chance

to mention this incredible organization/zine/Instagram/recovery program, and more.

Queer Appalachia elevates diverse narratives around the Appalachian region.

Appalachians tend to get homogenized and stereotyped in a negative/reductive way (a rant for another time!). This is just to say: people with a limited connection to Appalachia – get your hands on this zine and prepare for your mind to be blown.

 One of Emily’s fiber zines

One of Emily’s fiber zines

5) Reusable Everything: I try to carry a stainless steel straw, a cloth napkin, and a reusable

water bottle with me at all times! Coming back to Appalachia for a second: I have very

tangible experience with the ways in which people are sacrificed for commodities. Our

mountains have been decimated for coal. Our water is in jeopardy for the sake of

natural gas pipelines. Our people are often sick, and sometimes they are poor and

addicted. The politics of extraction industries in WV are too complicated to really

unpack in this space, but these patterns all tie together. And because of this, we are all

very aware of the repercussions of our collective comfort. Minimizing my footprint is a

high priority for me, and that translates into my clothes, my food, my transportation,

and my collection of reusable straws.

6) A notebook and pens: you never know when you’re gonna need them.




Emily Prentice (She/Her) is a forever novice, a devotee to beginnings, and the Zine Queen of

Randolph County. Her work focuses on the meeting place of the natural and the supernatural

(the ways in which we are of this earth and beyond it) and it exists in the form of quilts, zines,

drawing, and teaching. Emily’s teaching practice is in her home, in the local quilt shop, and

wherever you are.

Find Emily online at emilyprentice.com on Instagram @_emily_prentice_ and on twitter @emilyprentice42 

All photos belong to Emily

The Story of Blotto Botany and a Giveaway!
Blotto Botany: A Lesson in Healing Cordials & Plant Magic

“Blotto Botany started out as a self published zine, something I made while living in a tiny farmhouse attic in Maine. It serves as a constant reminder to do what I love and listen to both my gut and plant allies. Here within the pages of this book, I invite you to make of these recipes what you will. Expand on them, love them, swap plants, swap spirits. This book is meant to be a look into an herbalists log; a variety of experiments and delicious concoctions intended to sprout new idea and connect you with tradition.
Drink to your health, your ancestors, and your friends. Make zines, write daily, make plants and stay true to your own tastes and well-being.”
- An excerpt from Blotto Botany


Creating something is never easy. It’s a daunting, exhausting and consuming experience, while at the same time, rewarding and exhilarating - all the “ings” really. Over the course of 18 months, I poured my heart into the making of this little book. I cried, I giggled, I worried, I judged myself, I acted like a diva brat at times. There were days where I drank too much and days where I didn’t do anything but press the “yes I’m still watching” button on Netflix. From what I understand, this is a very typical process when working on a project so near, dear and long winded. 

The story of Blotto Botany goes like this: 

Back in early 2016, I created a zine called Blotto Botany: a Lesson in Cordial Making. It was 4 inches tall and consisted of pages, that I folded and bound together with string. I created it in a small attic bedroom in an old Maine farmhouse, while navigating heartache and questioning my career path as an herbalist. I wanted to share my love of cordials in book form and a zine seemed like the natural (and cheapest) path for me. I sold it on Etsy then in my own online shop as well as shops around the country. 

6 months later, a lovely editor from HarperCollins found my zine in a shop called, Hauswitch. She took it home and over the course of a few months, recreated some of its recipes. That following January, she got in touch with me to see if I would be interested in turning Blotto Botany into a full length book with HarperCollins. Thinking it was a joke or somehow a mistake on this editors part, my mom, aunt and I scoured the internet to make sure that this was a legitimate human. Much to our delight, she was indeed a real human with a very real and historic publishing company. So we scheduled a time to chat on the phone and from there, we proceeded. 

From there it was a few months of negotiations before I could get started on the manuscript. I spent the summer writing, testing, merrily enjoying my situation while at the same time, feeling inadequate - though the joy and gratitude was more apparent for me. Once the manuscript was turned in, my words were passed around to multiple editors to make sure everything was accurate and well said. When I finally got the go ahead in September, I was able to fully start working on the illustrations, which I mostly completed in about 3 weeks. I also took all the photos for the book, but that is a story for another day…

The process was long and full of unique emotions for me. When you hold Blotto Botany (or any book!!) in your hands, know that is the the result of incredible love and devotion. This little book taught me so much and I’m insanely grateful that I got to bring it out into the world with the help of a really badass editor and a publishing company. And all the friends that listened to me whine and cry more than a few times..


Leave a comment below with your email for an extra chance to win a copy of Blotto Botany for you and a friend! US entries only, please.


Here are some commonly asked questions:

Are you self published?

No. Blotto Botany is published by Morrow Gift, which is an imprint of HarperCollins publisher.

Will you be selling Blotto Botany in the Gingertooth & Twine shop?

No, but there is plenty of info on where you can get it HERE

Can I order copies of Blotto Botany for my shop?

Yes!! It means so much to me to help you get the book into your shop. While I personally cannot sell the book to you, you can contact SPsales@harpercollins.com to get the book wholesale.

Blotto Botany by Spencre L.R. McGowan
Blotto Botany by Spencre L.R. McGowan

What was the process of getting your publisher to believe in your book?

I had the unique experience of being approached by a publisher. The fact that I had made a zine version of B.B. to present and had been selling it for over a year was extremely helpful. So my advice (which could be helpful or not at all), is to start making zines.

The process of editing and scanning the book was different. Since the book has remained so true to its original zine format, it was a unique process and required a bit of explaining from both my editor and I. But we stuck with the vision and successfully saw it through!

Does it matter where I purchase the book? Will you still get the same amount of money?

Unless you are purchasing the book from me directly, either at a signing or somewhere else in person, I get the same amount of money. I’m always supportive of purchasing the book from a local bookshop, but Amazon sales do help the book rank on best seller lists. It’s really up to you where you’d like to purchase the book.

How did you come up with all your recipes?

I’m going to sound like a real asshole right now, but creating recipes is what keeps me up at night. I get most of my ideas as I’m trying to sleep. Coming up with new recipes and figuring out how to relate them back to herbalism is so exciting for me and it’s definitely something that feels so natural for me to do. I also read a lot of cookbooks and watch many food related shows, so I often bounce around what I’ve learned in those moments before bed. With a lot of the recipes in Blotto Botany, I created the cordial name before actually deciding what would be in that cordial.



Leave a comment below with your email and Instagram handle for an extra chance to win a copy of Blotto Botany for you and a friend! US entries only, please. Giveaway closes on Tuesday 10-23.

 The original Blotto Botany zine

The original Blotto Botany zine