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  1. Hi All, Father Christmas very kindly left me a selection of Rum Miniatures. The bottles were of 4 cl volume and a flat design of approx size 4.5 cm w x 2.3 cm d x 12 cm h. Besides enjoying the contents, I thought that a first attempt at a miniature might be fun. The internal size allowed for a SIB of approx 5 cm l x 3.5 cm h. I decided on using the plans for a 3 mast clipper in Making Ships in Bottles by Leon Labistour. I scanned and shrunk the plan until I got a size to fit the bottle. Using the scan, I overlaid the sails with stitching lines and printed planking lines on the hull outline, then printed out on lightweight white airmail paper. I used a selection of different weights of line and colour coupled with some different colours of water paints to colour the sails and planking, then chose what I thought looked best. The hull was carved from a piece of Ramin square stock (its a tropical hardwood, comes in 2 metre lengths at the local DIY store) in the time honoured way of sticking the printed outline to the wood and cutting it to shape. I cut out the deck well and used 0.5 mm styrene for the bulwarks. Masking and painting with acrylics was a bit of a fiddle, but got there in the end. I’ve got some nice thin masking tape, but the adhesive was drying out so got a bit of edge creep that really shows up in the photos. Time for a shopping trip. 😁 I then cut out the printed planking and glued it in place. I’ve been following other Sibbers who do miniatures, and reading various articles in books, etc. It seems that its best to cut out the sails in one piece by the mast, then apply the yards which should be made from brush bristles to allow them to flex during launch. Cutting out with a sharp blade was no issue, but sticking the bristles down proved a bit of a problem. I used bristles off of an unused wallpaper paste brush and I think they must have a Teflon coating or similar. Superglue didn’t work well, so I tried PVA. They still popped off. I used the acrylic B72, but the acetone in this melted the plastic. In the end several coats of PVA encapsulating the yard seemed to work. Next time I’ll use natural bristles. You can see one missing in the photo (later replaced). I trimmed them to length after sticking them on. For the staysails, I realised that attaching them to the rigging on the SIB was going to be fiddly to say the least, so I threaded a length of thread (I used fly tying thread) through the printed paper. There was enough friction to hold it tight, then I glued it on to the length of the sail. Once dry, I carefully cut out the sail and added more glue. This worked, I only had to reglue a couple of sail ends. I made the masts from slivers of bamboo kebab sticks, sanded down to a reasonable thickness. Just one piece each, no attempt at any tops. Then stuck them to the back of the sails. No problems with this at all. I used plasticine for the sea and suddenly found the need for some new, thinner tools to put it in the bottle. A length of thin stainless steel rod, origin unknown, found in my garage was pressed into service. The height of the sea, hull and a fake mast were then checked for clearance with the top of the bottle as shown below. I had also by this stage drilled the appropriate holes for the rigging in the hull. I used a styrene template to get the spacing even. The masts are hinged using a length of thread from the bottom of the mast through a hole in the hull – the hinge-less method described in the book. It allows the masts to fold easily and be pulled back into place during bottling. I then started to rig the SIB. It became rapidly obvious that working at desk height was no use, so I made a small working top about 6 inches square that fitted on my vice. This allowed me to rest my hands about chin level. It also became obvious that holding the SIB by hand was inviting damage to the sails and yards so I made a small rigging jig from some plastic circuit board stand-offs. These are about £2 for a box full of different lengths of hexagonal plastic ‘bits’ that screw together as required. I fixed it to the small worktop as shown. There is enough friction in the plastic fittings to allow swivel and rotation with ease. Check fold before launch, below. Ready for launch below, only the two deck houses to be glued in place. Launched, below. A bit of plasticine turned out not to be enough to hold the bottle during glue up, so a bottle clamp had to made. Plywood cut as shown below, hinged and lined with a bit of old leather. Held under tension by a rubber band, and screwed to the small vice top. Works well. Bottle in the new clamp below.. I made the stand from a piece of MDF covered with a photocopy of an old map illustration, and then sprayed with acrylic varnish. The supports are thin plywood stained with a wood scratch repair felt tip pen. Self adhesive felt pads underneath. There was one other thing that I tried that doesn’t really show on the photos. The external finish on the bottle was ‘lumpy’, not really unexpected considering their source. Before I retired I used to work with a couple of guys who were into model aircraft kit builds. They produced some really nice work. I remembered them bemoaning the fact that a certain brand of acrylic floor polish was no longer obtainable as they used it to dip the cockpit canopies in before assembly which apparently improved the clarity wonderfully. So I put the bottle on a stick and sprayed it with a couple of coats of acrylic varnish. It improved the finish and clarity quite well. Worth doing. The finished SIB below. Still thinking about a Turks Head.
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