Posts Tagged ‘ships in a bottle’

How A Ship In A Bottle Is Made

March 8th, 2010

Flying Cloud Ship in a Bottle

Flying Cloud Ship in a Bottle


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.

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Building a Ship in a Bottle

January 19th, 2010

Ship in a Bottle - Flying Cloud Model

Ship in a Bottle - Flying Cloud Model

It’s a capture of sun, sails trapped in glass and light. It’s the defiance of logic, baffling all who witness, all who peek down to decipher the secret. The image is iconic: a pirate vessel roaming a painted sea, detailed immaculate. It waits on a shelf, gathering no dust, only intrigue. It seems unlikely. And yet… a ship in a bottle was made. It can be made again.

It’s often named the impossible trick, a dare for any who try it. But such dares can be solved. Because building a ship in a bottle is more process than illusion. It can be achieved by simple patience and simpler steps. Once these steps are known, creating a battle is all too easy… and all too rewarding.

Master The Ship In A Bottle

The first rule you must remember? You will not craft the boat inside its container. That truly would be impossible, and would send most running for solace in the nearest board game. Instead you will shape all materials outside, allowing yourself the freedom to focus on the bows and gaffers. To begin, always measure the opening of your bottle. This will determine the size of your ship (the depth of the hull must be smaller to allow you to slip it in later). Once that number is known, you can then begin to form your vessel. There are countless kits available for those who are not yet certain of their own skills. Novices are recommended to use them. Always build with your number in mind. Never forget it.

Once the majority of the work is done, however, you will find yourself faced with the masts (and, consequently, the sails). It is essential that you place hinges within these to allow the masts to collapse to a ninety degree angle. This will let them rest as you place the ship in a bottle. Attach a string to each so you may raise them later. This will complete the effect.

Caution Ahead: Ship In A Bottle

This is not a day of thrills nor hours spent breathless. This is not instant satisfaction. It is instead a pastime for the patient. Do not assume this will be a quick event, finished in clumsy haste, with you then moving on to the next project. It’s meant instead to be enjoyed, the details faithfully done, the scenes made real. You are not to rush. You are to savor.

Of course, for some, that seems more improbable than the ship in a bottle itself. They demand immediate results. They will find little of that here. Understand that this is a system. It will take effort. If you are not interested in that, then perhaps another hobby would be wise.

If you are willing, however, to offer time, then this can be an experience worth having. You simply must remember to follow your directions carefully, devote the necessary minutes and keep your frustrations low. You will succeed. You merely have to learn first.

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