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Bottled Ship Builder

Rouse Simmons- "The Christmas Tree Ship"


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I'm pretty excited to post this build log. I tried to do this one last year & had so many problems with the glass bulbs breaking I gave up on it till this year & tried it again.  This build is actually already done. I saved all the pics so that if it finally worked out I could post a log. Well after two years & 6 or 7 glass Christmas globes it eventually got done. I will post a lot of last years pics showing all the progress & failures. Some steps will be repeated as it had to be de-done many times.


It all started with these glass Christmas ornament globes my wife picked up last year. I looked online for a ship that could be put in it & discovered the Rouse Simmons. It carried Christmas trees across Lake Michigan from rural to urban areas. It sank in Lake Michigan Nov. 23, 1912 delivering Christmas trees to Chicago.


Pics of the glass globes & the drawings I made for the build






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I have been asked in a private message about the size of the hull so I thought I'd share it here. It is approx. 2 1/8 inches (5 1/2 cm) long (without bowsprit), 9/16 inch (14mm) wide, & 4/16 inch (6mm) thick.


Using the 3rd glass ornament after 1st two broke.


A year ago I asked Daniel for some advice on this build. The sea surface will be over an inch higher than the bottom of the ornament. Filling it up with putty or resins would be much too heavy to hang on a Christmas Tree limb so I was stumped on how to pull this off. Daniel told me about another bottle builder who used a method painting the space below the sea level to hide the empty space & make a thin solid "floor" that would rest higher up that would be the sea surface. I cant remember where he referred me to but I knew it was the answer to my problem. Now how to make it. I used the same way I did the disk for the bottom label, make a folding disk using paper as hinges . I measured the inside of the globe by inserting a round paper cut out trimming it until it fit right. Then made the wood base out of tongue depressor sticks.













Edited by JesseLee
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Re-did bottom label disc. the 1st one was a little bit oval. Made another one round like it should have been from the start. I also made a wood tab on the side that will be hidden. This was so I could hold it with locking tweezers making much easier to insert & glue in. Glued it in. Painted blue paint inside glass between bottom label & the sea base disc.





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Did some experimenting with this build some didn't work out. Wanted to keep it at light as possible. Tried making the sea out of a thin layer of silicone. Painted it blue. It was the best looking sea surface I ever made- much like a slightly choppy sea. The silicone bed would roll up to go in the glass ornament & open up flat for gluing down. It didn't work because nothing sticks to dries silicone & the paint eventually started peeling up & flaking off in spots. I was disappointed because it looked so good & met the requirement of being so light. I hope I can find a way to make this work for future builds. The silicone formed the perfect shaped wave caps. I had 1st tried having the base underneath it painted but it looked too clear at the higher spots so that's why I tried painting the silicone itself.




Edited by JesseLee
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Constructed the masts & spars. Experimented with an old method of hinging the masts on this build. Forgot to take the pictures of this step but thread is fed through a hole in the mast & through 2 holes in the mast hole & knotted underneath the hull.  Adding some rigging as I went along....






Edited by JesseLee
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Cut out & formed the sails. Dipped in coffee to age them. Washed them in baking soda & water to neutralize the acids. At this point the glass bulb broke. This was the 4th one from a pack of 4. This is where I stopped the build last year.  Sometimes the glass would break while I was working with it & sometimes it would just pop when it wasn't even being worked with. The picture shows what a typical break was with these glass bulbs. Was very upset it didn't get done so I could hang it on our Christmas Tree. These bulbs were bought at Wal Mart. decided to pick some up from a different store the next season & try it again. A whole year later (a few months ago tis year) I got some more from my local Hobby Lobby store hoping they wouldn't be as thin as the other ones. The next posting will be where I picked this build back up this year.




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