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Bottled Ship Builder

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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.

 

 

DSC_2225.jpg

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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...

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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.

 

 

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