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Bottled Ship Builder

Build a named ship or just generic?

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Hi everyone,


I am in the process of picking out my first scratch SIB builds.  I was thinking about going with one of the models in the Joop van Schouten "Sailing in Glass" book to start with.  I have half a dozen or so SIB books, and this particular book seems to be one of the best how to books with lots of diagrams and simple discussion.


In picking out a class of ship to model, do folks generally pick a class and go to other sources for plans for an actual ship and build their model according to those specifications?  I have a couple of books from Howard Chapelle and the Laszlo "Story of Sail" book which each have plans in them.  At the small scales used for SIBs though, is it worth picking out a specific ship to model?  Can you get that kind of distinct detail?  I can see if a ship has a particular color scheme like the Niagara and/or shape like the Constitution, but otherwise, is it worth picking out a specific ship that is only going to be a couple inches long?


Just curious what approach people take.  Thanks in advance!



Edited by Landlubber Mike
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I would say in general it is generic unless you want to represent a specific ship that has meaning to you or if it's a gift to someone that the ship has meaning to them.  I have done quite a few kit ships and they tend to be specific ships because that is what is advertised by the kit maker.  I do know people that do a lot of research to represent a specific ship and the detail is there, even in the small scale.  Most of my scratch ships are generic because I used plans from books and the plans were generic.  It comes down to you as to what you want, not what others are doing.

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Pick a TYPE of ship that you like... the less complex the better - a Hudson River sloop instead of HMS Victory.  Study it across examples of the type, and then pick one to emulate.  Remember, ships did vary ('evolve') over time and individual ships were modified by their various owners.  As for how much detail can be worked into a tiny ship in a bottle I direct your attention and eyeballs to the works of John Fox III - a member of this group.

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   I start with a picture that appeals to me, for example the fruit schooner Regulus in Laszlo & Woodman. What's missing from the drawing is the layout of the deck.

 Regulus was a late 19th century brigantine, and dozens of appropriate deck layouts and detailed drawings of deck furniture are available in Douglass Bennett's book Schooner Sunrise, which is worth adding to your library. Combine a deck from Bennet with the drawing from Laszlo and Woodman and you're on you're way to a fleet of delightful little hybrid models.

  Rigging with me is usually a compromise between the conventions typical of the model I'm doing, what it takes to get the rigging folded to pass the bottle neck and then raised again, and what pleases my eye.

  I also sometimes work from actual plans. I have the steam frigate Mississippi tacked up on my plan board just now and aim to bottle it in a 375 ml liquor flask with as much detail as I can crowd on, once i get clear of the little three-masted schooner currently on my bench, and assuming nothing else catches my eye in the interim.





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Suggest for the first few that you just do a simple type that appeals to you. Two-masted Banks fishing schooners or early racing yachts that evolved from them are lovely in their simplicity and will allow you to become familiar with the basic SiB techniques without putting in a lot of time on fine details. Most of the SiB books I've seen will take you through a few projects, each more complex than the last, that will build your SiB skill set.


I built SiBs for many years all as types to cut the amount of time spent planning and researching a project. Later I became more interested in more accuracy and finer details. For the "type" projects I printed out a photo of the vessel I wanted to build at the size I was planning. If the visible details can't be identified, I left them off, or if they were too small to make. It's better to leave off details than try to include them made grossly out of scale.

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Thank you all very much for your thoughts.  I think I'm going to start with a generic model as you all suggest, unless something jumps out at me (the Regulus is very nice indeed).  I've tabbed a bunch of pictures in my books for potential subjects which can probably help when it comes to deck details.  


I'll definitely start on the easier end of the scale.  I have some SIB experience building the Amati Hannah SIB kit, but things obviously are a little different when scratch building.


Thanks very much again, I really appreciate it!

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