Sure wanna be: Ship in a Bottle Modeller

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«… a bit fiddly, but not impossible…»

Who doesn't remember the little bottled ship on grandfather's dresser? And who never has wondered about how the ship ever got into the bottle? If you think that they cut the bottom of the bottle off and glued it back on later, then think again. This is an art that doesn't involve cutting glass. The neck of the bottle determines the size of the little block of wood that serves as the base.

The hull is cut out using a jigsaw and shaped using chisels and files. Toothpicks can serve as masts; they are hinged at the bottom with copper wire. That way, they can be placed flat on the deck. The wire hinges will be inserted into pre-drilled holes in the deck after the masts are fully assembled.

A piece of cardboard is used as a template. It's cut to the size of the deck, and little holes indicate where all the rigging should go. An old surf board can serve as a donor for the little sails... use decent glue to hold those in place. Make sure the rigging is taut but not under too much tension. After all, you don't want the fragile threads to break when you're this close to finishing the job.


Use some sea-coloured clay as a base for the ship. It's a bit fiddly, but not impossible to make it look like a rough sea surface. After it has dried, use a straw to add a dollop of clear glue where the ship is gonna go. Bend the copper hinges backwards and push the masts onto the deck. Be careful with the rigging. Attach a huge loop of thin wire around the masts, insert the ship into the bottle and wait for the glue to dry. Then pull the masts up again and hey presto. Magic.

For proper Ships in a Bottle near you, take a look here:

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