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Bottled Ship Builder


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Everything posted by Lubber123

  1. My recent experiments have caused me to fall back on plumbers putty (window glazing would work also) colored with artist's grade oil paint. I would suggest Water Soluble type oil paints (Holbein and also Winsor and Newton make these) for easier clean up. They absorb into the putty relatively quickly and handles without mess in a day or two. Also one can mix a nice color with Ultramarine Blue and Viridian Green or other colors to match a nice sea. The base color of the putty is an off white which works well for waves. Plus it is a traditional way to produce a sea and I like sticking with traditional methods. I found a plumbers putty with a modern formulation for granite countertops that behaved quite nicely. I tried a modeling clay product but I don't like the color of the blue - it's more a sky blue than a sea blue. I tried to color this with acrylic paint but instead of mixing into the clay, it sort of sits on top of it and it never dried (acrylic paint usually dried in twenty minutes but this stuff made a mess!). I do use the brown modeling clay for backgrounds however. Guy Demarco's book has some good suggestions for making a sea and explains most of the methods that are mentioned in the previous post. Essential is to have a good stout rod of some sort to press the sea down and smooth it. Demarco suggest a bent knitting needle.
  2. That's too bad! My hull isn't anything too special and I'm sure you can make one from the plans. I like the hull I got in the AM Privateer though, it's top notch. The bottle I got with my AM Princess Royal is actually very nice, it was made in Germany, not France, the AM Privateer bottle I have was made in France. So for £3 you got ship plans, a nice set of instructions, a suit of sails, a nice bottle stand and some bamboo skewers. Mine cost six times that but I got a complete package. I really can't justify the cost of these kits but having a ship plan and a bottle to fit the plan is essential.
  3. Hi James, I just bought one of these kits also but not at the bargain you got. The putty will be hardened and useless by now but no big deal since putty availability is not a problem. My bottle was made in France and doesn't have the imprint on it. But these Authentic Model kits are just about the best I've seen at the price ( the Amati models look superb but are almost $100 USD). I also have an AM "Privateer" that I think is a better kit but not modeled on an historic model. The Privateer kit has a nice hardwood hull that I had trouble getting an electric drill to hole. It also comes in a neat little wood box. I couldn't resist starting to build the model but had to shelve it for a while so it's still in "dry dock". The instruction sheet is excellent. I've collected about six different kits now and these are my favorite. I'm sure you will enjoy this build.
  4. Wow John, yours is fantastic! Your ship is very nicely formed and a great shaped bottle with a nice finish on the neck. And I like the "left hand" placement which is a great way to introduce some variety to a collection. My ship looks sloppy compared to yours, you must have a more practiced hand. I get a little carried away with making a whole diorama with the ship just being part of it. I'm still struggling with the miniature sails although I was very pleased with the sails I put on my large scale model, my first time making a true suit of sails. Maybe I'm too easily impressed with myself! Well, I have more practice ahead...thanks for sharing.
  5. Thanks Jeff! Each model is its own challenge...no two seem exactly alike.
  6. I have been working my way through the examples in Jack Needham’s “Modeling Ships in Bottles”. Here I’ve completed his third of four exercises, “The Waterwitch” which is modeled after an actual historical ship although I am having some difficulty confirming his back-story about the ship since there seems to have been many ships named the Waterwitch. The exercise here was to graduate to making yardarms and square sails which are present here only on the foremast. In my youth I had skipped over all the preliminary exercises and went right into square rigged ships but here I felt I wanted to go back and practice my basics. I also wanted to make use of my collection of bar bottles left over from my father’s bar tending days and here I made use of a Dubouchet liqueur bottle which I felt was nicely ornamented. I also practiced my hand at another head-land back ground with some obligatory sea-side buildings and a little greenery in the hill side. I switched over to a sea made from plumber’s putty colored with artist grade water soluble oil paints which seems nicely compatible and I think this will be my future go-to formula. I also went back and tried making paper sails but I think I prefer cloth sails. I just found some nice antiqued sail cloth which I think will make nice sails for my future SIBs. I also have some tan resume paper which might also be worth trying. I made another attempt at a Turk’s Head knot again using my jig but I think I need to start with a bit more length of cord. Anyway, again the photograph doesn’t do the model justice and I’m happy to have this one in my fleet.
  7. Thanks for this Jim. Has some nice tricks that go beyond the basics.
  8. Thanks Bernard! The model sort of came together on its own. Once I built the Lumber Schooner, it looked so lonely in the back of the bottle I just had to give it company. And once I built the accompanying fishing schooner, I found some spare parts for the skipjack that just filled the neck. I never had a plan, it just came together on its own.
  9. Thanks, I'll have to do a few more of these now...triple the fun!
  10. Thanks James, that bottle had been sitting in my basement for quite a long time. I just needed some inspiration to figure out what to do with it. It was all serendipity, very little planning.
  11. Thanks Jeff! Actually, I don't think the photograph does it justice. There's a bit of distortion from the angle and a bit of glare on the top edge. It's a tough bottle to photograph, the model looks more impressive in real life. Step by step, I'm learning new tricks...
  12. I’ve been continuing to follow the examples in Jack Needham’s “Modeling Ships in Bottles”. I had already finished the first example “A Simple Model for Beginners”. Although I am more experienced than a basic beginner, I found making the basic model to be a good refresher. I don’t follow Needham’s method of rigging; I don’t use as many control lines as he suggests and I rig the shrouds in to holes in the gunnels instead of rigging them through the underside of the hull. Here I progressed to his second model, a four masted lumber schooner. I had the dilemma of trying to find an appropriate bottle for it since the model is long but not very tall. I also had a uniquely shaped bottle that my father had saved for me many years ago with the thought that “maybe you could put a ship in it someday”. It’s a long tapered triangle shaped bottle that once contained Sicilian Gold Marsala. So as a tribute to my Sicilian ancestry I wanted to use the bottle. I switched over from the clay-dough modeling clay I had previously used and instead purchased some plumber’s putty that I colored with water-soluble artist grade oil paints mixing Ultramarine Blue with some Viridian Green for the sea, using the base neutral color for the wave tops. I also switched back to cloth sails which I seem to prefer. Once I placed the lumber schooner into the back end of the bottle, I realized it looked a little lonely so I repeated Needham’s “Exercise One” and made a basic two masted fishing schooner to keep it company. Once I added the fishing schooner, I still had some “dead space” in the neck to fill so I added a small headland background with a few buildings and put a small skipjack sailboat in front of that to give the illusion of all three running into port. I finished the neck with a “Turk’s Head” knot that I built a special jig for so I could get it right this time. It’s still tough to make, even with a jig. So here is my diorama “fleet” heading into port. This is the first time I put multiple ships in a bottle and I’m encouraged enough to use this method again on some of my longer bottles.
  13. Thanks CharlieB! Amundsen's story was powerful inspiration to do a good job.
  14. Thanks! Yes, it was a bit of a challenge to work the model in with the long neck and I had to pull it out a few times to get it adjusted the way I wanted. I have a collection of bottles my father saved for me from his bartending days and I seem to be on a mission to find a ship for all of them.
  15. Since I decided to revive my interest in ship in the bottle builds, I revisited my original first kit builds from the “Ships A Sailin’” line from the 1970’s. My first ever build was their “Lively Lady” and my second ever build was another of their kits. I pulled out the instruction sheet that I still have from this series which has no identification for the ship on it. For many years I was under the impression that this build was their “Skeeter” but after finding an old kit for sale I realized that I had actually built their “Goja”. I first started to perfunctorily build this ship accordingly to the dimensions I had on the instruction sheet when I remembered that I was never quite pleased with my first result. I had given this build away as a gift so I no longer had it for reference. I looked at the squat dimensions of the whole ship on the instruction sheet and the cautionary words that the model had been modified to adapt it to the bottle when I wondered if this was actually a historical representation. At the time I had no idea what the “Goja” was, my “Lively Lady” certainly wasn’t a historically accurate ship so I assumed that this was another fanciful creation. After a cursory investigation, I was hooked. The “Goja” is the ship that Norwegian Explorer Roald Amundsen sailed to make the first successful voyage across the North West Passage in 1906. The ship still exists today in a museum in Fram, Norway and previously had spent many years in a park in San Francisco, Ca so it is well documented and photographed. I managed to find a sail and rigging plan and pulled up a few photos to help me get as historically close to the ship as possible. I even watched a video documentary about the Arctic Explorers and the quest to find the North West Passage. After Amundsen completed the passage, he landed in Alaska and had to Nordic ski 500 miles just to send a telegraph to announce his completion. I was so impressed with this story I decided I had to do this model due diligence and effort. I didn’t want to end up with a “bottle with a ship model in it” I wanted a “ship model that happened to be encased in a glass bottle” instead. I found a nice bottle in my collection that complemented the dimensions of the plan although it was a bit challenging to work in. I tried to match the color scheme of the hull, I made a nice suit of sails from cloth instead of paper (I really prefer the cloth sails to paper now), I took some care with trying to make a flat Arctic sea with ice floes and an Arctic tundra backdrop and I sealed the bottle with a Scandinavian coin (OK, it’s Swedish, not Norwegian and it isn’t from 1906 but it looks cool) and made another “decorative braid” knot for the neck. I even tried my hand at a miniature Norwegian flag to fly from its ensign line. Had I had the presence of mind, I would have made a Norwegian flag of the banner but the flag was an afterthought. Most of these details are not visible in the photograph. After it was completed it struck me how the bottle mounted on its side mimics the silhouette of the ship with the neck being its prow. So here it is, my homage to Roald Amundsen, my eighth ever SIB.
  16. Thanks Jeff, I thought about making one in a bottle but I have one that I bought that looks just like her. I have a backlog of SIB projects that I'm working on first but might use the plans someday.
  17. This is my Model Shipways MS2005 “Elsie” Gloucester Fishing Vessel circa 1910, solid carved hull, made in 1/8” = 1 ft scale. No, I’m not going to put it in a bottle since it is almost 2 ft long and 1.5 ft tall. The only reason I’m posting it here is that this is the impetus that got me back to modeling ships in bottles. I’ve had this kit since Christmas 1979. I worked on it a bit back in the 1980’s and put it away. It had been sitting partially completed with its parts in a box on top of my work bench in my basement for almost 25 years until I decided to overcome the “paralysis of analysis” and finish it this winter. I didn’t realize until I was almost finished with it that Model Shipways was still in business and that they would provide me replacement parts, free of charge. A variety of factors had prevented me from finishing this model. First off, I had very little instructional material to help me with the build. These days these kits come with very detailed and complete instructions but back in 1979 about all I had was a set of plans and a brief instruction sheet that may as well have just said “use wooden parts to construct model to plans”. Then, in my impetuous youth, I made some rookie mistakes that deemed the model less than “museum quality”. I had to come to the realization that I wasn’t going to send it to a museum, it would only be displayed for my pleasure and at 1/8” scale I probably could never get museum accuracy anyway. I also had to decide if I was going to put sails on it even though Model Shipways didn’t recommend sail work, especially for rookies. I worked on this model almost 8 hrs a day, 7 days a week for a full month. It was “unfinished business” and I wanted to complete it but also to get it as right as possible. I scrapped inferior work and reworked it if I had to. I still made some rookie mistakes and I’m not sure I belayed all the lines to all the correct places but I was damn proud of it when I was finished. I also realized how little I knew about sailing ships even though I had built five ship-in-the bottles before. I learned the value of having good plans, of measuring accurately and working patiently and a few other small tricks – all that applies to ship-in-the-bottles. Therefore, I have to recommend that if you want to become a better SIB builder, try one of these larger scale models at least once (with a pre-carved hull – planking a built up ship is a whole other world). I came away from this exercise with a new confidence that now I could do higher quality work than I had in my youth and I wanted to reprise some of my early SIB fails.
  18. I've recently purchased a selection of kits just to see what they are about. One is a paper everything with a glass bottle and cork. This is a travesty that should never be allowed to be perpetrated. Even the decorative seal, which should be cord, is paper. What a waste of a piece of glass. The next is a very nice kit by Airfix with a nice large rectangular bottle that was made in France but has a plastic ship model...Egads! My other two at least have wooden parts and one has an instruction manual that even a experienced builder could learn some tricks from. Ok, there are no rules. But I'd like to maintain the connection to the original modelers who only had limited materials and tools but had a lot of imagination and time on their hands.
  19. Hi Niallmhor, If you did this, you have the basic idea. I've always enjoyed the carving and shaping of the hull as the fun part. Shaping the spars is a bit tedious. The rigging is intricate but rewarding. Inserting the model and righting it on the putty sea can expose faults in construction, especially if the neck is a narrow diameter. But remember, the model can always be pulled back out if things aren't right (I've had to do this a few times). Even if you glue the stays down and discover that something isn't right, you can cut the rigging and extract the model and re-rig it and try again. Since you created the model, you can always fix it. The putty sea doesn't dry out or harden very quickly so extraction is always an option. You don't have to accept defects and don't be afraid to scrap work and re-work it.
  20. Hi Niallmhor, I live in the US so the materials I have available may be different from where you are. It depends on how much you are going to work the wood but a closed grain somewhat hardwood is preferable although I made my very first scratch models from scrap pine. Basswood is a modelling favorite, beech is probably a good choice since it's commonly used to make dowels and spools. The old time books recommend mahogany but good luck trying to find it. Just about the only wood I would not try to use is balsa since it is way too soft to take to being rigged. You can use a piece of paper on the end of a dowel as a gauge for inside diameter. Or draw on paper a silhouette of the actual size of your model and glue it to the end of a dowel and roll it up and stick inside your bottle to size up fit. Bottles that are tall but not overly long as a good choice. The square Johnny Walker bottles were common to be used. The Pinch scotch bottles go for a good dollar, empty that is. Jack Daniels bottles are also good. Oval bottles work well. One word of caution, the necks on most bottles won't accommodate anything wider than 1/2 inch and unless you have an unusually wide mouthed bottle, only make a hull from the waterline up and keep the clay sea less than 1/4 inch. Hope this helps...
  21. I'm glad that I had available a fairly good kit to build from and thought it was a great start. But I also had a SIB that was probably built by an old hand to also inspire me. I have the Needham book that I am revisiting and I also had Peter Thorne's "Secrets of Ship's in Bottles". I find that I use a combination of techniques and I wouldn't take everything Needham says as gospel. I would definitely suggest to start simple if one hasn't built one before. I wouldn't get too hung up on accuracy at first since there is some necessary compromise to get a ship in a bottle and the scale is very small (below 1/ 4" equals one foot scale accuracy is tough to achieve and SIBs are much small than that). My biggest challenge is finding an appropriate bottle. Unless you have access to a bar which will allow you to take their empties, finding a good bottle can be a struggle. I would recommend a beginner get one of the Woodkrafter kits that seem to still be available on the global garage sale. A schooner or sloop is a good choice for build number one. Finding good ship plans is almost a must for scratch builds but then you have to figure out how to fit it to your bottle. It is a shame that high quality kits are not available. I was even thinking about exploring the idea with a manufacturer.
  22. Thanks Jeff, I'm a few lessons past this now...I'll post them one at a time.
  23. With my interest renewed in building ship-in-the-bottles I decided to try to further my skills and take a path of self learning. I had only limited instructional materials available as well as some examples from other builders and the instruction sheets from my old kits as guides. I first decided I wanted to re-create the original “Ship’s-A-Sailin’” SIB Kit model line and had already built the “Lively Lady” but I also wanted to work on a more remedial model to help sharpen my skills. I pulled out my old “Modeling Ships in Bottles” by Jack Needham, gave it a thorough read and realized his first “Simple Model for Beginners” was equivalent to the “Skeeter” model in the S-A-S kit line so decided that this would be my next build. I also wanted to experiment with a head-land background and I had a short but fat round bottle I wanted to try. The model is a simple two masted schooner. For being a simple model I had difficulty getting a hull correctly shaped and ended up cracking two before I got one – I don’t recall ever having a problem shaping a hull in the past. On this model I decided to try and make the sails out of paper instead of the using the extra sail cloth I had left over from my 1/8” scale “Elsie”. This went OK but I marked the seams a bit too heavy in pencil and slightly creased one sail during insertion. I also tried to color my “Model Magic” play-clay sea with acrylic paint to get a deeper, warmer blue but the paint didn’t mix into the putty well, it sort of sat on top instead of mixing in, didn’t dry as fast as I would have liked and it made the putty somewhat sticky and soupy. I ended up marking up the model with the colored clay but Jack did suggest getting some putty on the sides of the hull to simulate sea-spray. However my background came out well and I included a little head-land and a lighthouse. Again I attempted a Turk’s Head knot which turned into a “decorative braid”. I even embedded a foreign coin into the melted wax seal on the cork. The ship is a little small for the bottle which has a difficult dimension of being short and stout but the addition of the background and light house helps fill the space. So I had some lessons learned but still came away with a nice model a step above my early kit builds.
  24. Thanks! It was a lot of fun to build. I even found an old "Ship's A Sailin'" model kit for sale but it wasn't the "Lively Lady" but it was worth buying just for the nostalgic value. I only have a limited supply of bottles and quite a few aren't suitable for SIBs but I'm busy figuring them out. More to come...
  25. Thanks again! I bought the putty at a craft store similar to Michael's called A C Moore. The stuff I bought is called Model Magic made by Crayola and is not supposed to air harden. I found it a bit messy to work with and I couldn't get it to color well with artist grade acrylic paint. I've switched back to plumbers putty that I color with artist grade water soluble oil paint (Holbein) and enjoyed how that behaved. I'll find out in twenty years how reliable it is (ha!).
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