Many people often wonder how the miracle of a ship in a bottle is made. The most simplistic answer is, "Very carefully and with a lot of patience." The technique for doing this varies from builder to builder, but the fact remains that it is not an easy undertaking and requires a good amount of hand-eye coordination.
Despite what some may think, there are no real shortcuts involved with this pastime. It’s also one of the few hobbies to change very little in over 150 years in terms of construction and effort. Each ship is still meticulously created by hand and carefully pieced together with age old tools. In truth, a ship in a bottle is a time honored tradition that is still recognized long after its original conception.
Types of Ships in a Bottle
Almost all ship in a bottle designs are shown with ships from the 17th to 19th centuries. Initially naval ships from European countries such as Great Britain, Spain, and the Netherlands were subsequently miniaturized and reconstructed inside bottles as a novelty. Often the type of ship inside first depends on the shape of the bottle used. This was due to not only the space inside the bottle but also the width of the bottle opening.
Ships such as the USS Constitution and Horatio Nelson’s HMS Victory are often the most popular ship in a bottle kits to be found, though modern ships such as ships from World War I & II are also found. Thanks to a recent Disney franchise, Caribbean Pirate Ships in a bottle have also become increasingly popular.
How Are Ships in a Bottle Made?
Also previously mentioned is the fact that the type of ship to be placed in the bottle first and foremost depends on the shape and/or style of the bottle itself. More recent efforts have made the bottle a part of the crafting process and presentation with everything from dioramic paintings of sky and ocean to diamond engraving on the inside, outside, or both.
After picking the right bottle for your project, the next step is finding the right materials. Often the ships are held upright with special putty which is tinted to look like water. The putty often takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks to dry properly.
From there, each detail is created by hand and often assembled in various pieces which are then placed within the bottle one part at a time. From there, a special set of long, hand-forged tools are used through the bottle opening to place each piece it its proper place. Often ships with sails and masts are made to collapse down in order to fit and then pulled back up by the tiny threads that hold them all together. Great care also goes into painting each miniature piece so that the ship will be as historically accurate as possible.
With such precise discipline that goes into the creation of ships in a bottle, it’s no wonder that they continue to memorize our senses and our curiosity.