Building A Ship In A Bottle
I have not made one of these for twenty years. But I thought that this could make an interesting instructable. I also knew that I could use this opportunity to show my daughter how I used to make them. So I tried again, I was nervous that it wouldn’t turn out well. But I was pleasantly surprised.
To start with you need a bottle. The shape of the bottle will determine what type of ship you should build. A tall narrow bottle like this is best suited for a tall ship. A big square rigged clipper would not fit. But a topsail schooner fills the empty space inside the bottle nicely.
Step 1The basic hull
I never used a kit. I just use blank pieces of wood that are available at craft stores, and begin with drawing a ship in the size and shape that I want to build.
Holes are drilled through wood that will form the upper and lower parts of the hull. Toothpicks are then inserted into the holes to keep the wood properly aligned during the rest of the construction. Draw a rough outline on the stacked wood pieces.
I don’t know how to put this any other way… And I’m not trying to be silly when I say… Now just sand away anything that doesn’t look like the boat you are trying to build. I started on a belt sander for the rough shape. Worked a little finer with a sanding drum on a Dremel tool, and finished with a piece of sandpaper.
A quick look at the hull next to the bottle. You will be doing this A LOT!
You can see that the hull is already larger that the opening of the bottle.
That’s why it is not built out of one solid piece of wood.
Step 2Adding the keel and rudder
Step 3Paint the hull
At this time the two top pieces and the two bottom pieces are glued together forming the upper and lower halves of the hull.
Step 4Constructing the mast
The mast and booms are all made out of toothpicks. I sanded some of them down in order to make them narrower. A piece of leather keeps your fingers from getting burned. This is a delicate process. It will take you a few tries to get the feel of it.
The bowsprit has been added to the hull.The bowsprit consist of two parts. The bottom stick is inserted into a hole that is drilled into the hull. A top stick is glued to it and two lengths of thread are wrapped around them and glued down. You will also use thread where the two halves of the main mast overlap.
Once again, things are laid out on the bottle to check the fit.
Lengths of thread are glued to the back of the booms. The thread will act as a hinge later.
A piece of wire is looped through a very small hole drilled into the bottom of the mast. This will be another hinge. You can see that the booms have been attached to the mast by the thread.
tep 5Connecting the mast to the hull
There are five holes behind the location for each mast. The shrouds lines will go into these holes.
The wire hinge on the bottom of the mast goes into two holes on the hull. It is twisted underneath, and the excess is trimmed away.
One long piece of thread goes through the five holes in the hull and through the mast forming the shrouds.
Step 6Basic rigging
Each mast has two lines going forward to the bow sprint. One line goes from the hull, to the booms, to the top of the mast and then forward. The other line goes from the area of the top of the shrouds directly to the bowsprit.
Drilling and threading the very tiny holes in the bowsprit takes a steady hand.
Step 7Little details
Step 8Inserting the bottom half
Another test fit. I was going to use the popsicle sticks as the only base for the hull, but I found I had a quarter inch of room inside of the bottle to spare.
I have always tried to make the ship fill as much of the bottle as I could. So, I cut, sanded, and stained two additional blocks of wood to put under the ship in the bottom of the bottle. This will raise the bottom of the hull from the glass, and I believe it will give the entire ship a more balanced look.
These were then glued into the bottle. The small piece of tape was used to mark the spot where the glue would go to secure the first piece of wood.
A drop of glue is used to secure the original stand to the bottom of the hull.
The stand is then rotated parallel to the hull in order to fit into the bottle opening.
Using long rods. (One is just a bent piece of wire. The other is some medical probe that I got at a garage sale.) … I spun the base planks until they were even and than glued them down onto the two pieces of wood already in the bottle.
Here I had accidentally touched the side of the bottle with glue. I cleaned it up using a cotton swab sprayed with window cleaner.
Step 9The sails
To create the sails. I first soaked a piece of typing paper with coffee then let it dry overnight. It was then marked with light parallel pencil lines roughly a quarter inch apart.
Plain typing paper was cut to size in order to make a pattern for the sails.
The coffee stained paper is then cut to size, and additional light lines are drawn to create borders. The sails are then secured to the mast or booms. Only glue down one edge of a sail as it has to allow other parts of the rigging to fold away from it.
The rest of the sails are secured. A flag and a couple of pendants are added. Then two deckhouses are place on the deck. They are NOT glued down at this point!
Step 10Now, the magic!
Loosen the rigging control lines.
Lower the back mast.
And then the forward mast.
Carefully roll the paper sails around the hull and start slowly feeding the top half of the ship into the bottle.
Once the rest of the ship is in the bottle. Pull on the control threads and PARTIALLY raise the mast. You are just trying to get them out of the way while you rejoin the two halves of the hull.
Once you have the two haves together, let the glue dry, and then slowly raise the mast. You may need to reach in and untangle some threads… Take your time.
The rear sail had become misshapen. The masts were slightly lowered and the sail was secured to the bottom boom.
With a little slack still in the mast, the deckhouses were guided to their position.
They were pushed back a little further, and then a drop of glue was put on the deck in front of them.
The deckhouse is edged forward onto the glue.
Step 12Securing the sails
With a little slack in the rigging a drop of glue is placed where each line will pass through the bowsprit.
The lines are then pulled taught and secured to the bottom of the bottle with a piece of tape.
The sails are then secured to each other with a small dab of glue.
It’s a tight fit in there!
When all of the glue is good and dry, a razor blade is used to cut the control threads from the BOTTOM of the bowsprit.
Step 13Cork it!
It seems I’ve really rambled on during this instructable. I’ve tried to tell you as much as possible without writing an entire book. Even then I’m sure I left some things out.
Thanks for looking!