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Bottled Ship Builder

Greetings from the Middle of Nowhere

Dave Fellingham

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I see the names of some friends and recognize the work of others who prefer screen names to their real names. I look forward to sharing information for the benefit of all.


I live in the high California desert east of Los Angeles and SSW of Vegas, specifically Joshua Tree, which is about as close to the middle of nowhere as anywhere I've been. I like it here - no grass to mow and no landscaping to water - the few plants on the property are indigenous and perfected adapted to the environment, so don't need my attention. The wildlife is interesting; mourning doves, quail, roadrunners, lots of small lizards, red racers (snakes), crows and an occasional coyote. There are no rodents on my property or on the land nearby so rattlesnakes aren't a problem; they are indigenous to the area just not in my neighborhood.


I've been building models since Mom thought it was reasonably safe for me to use edged tools and quickly gravitated towards sailing ships. My first scratch build was a USS Monitor when I was about 9. As an adult I found that building conventional static ship models did not fit my life style in that period - I frequently had to move chasing work and had three models destroyed during their construction by careless movers. Then I came across Jack Needham's "Modelling Ships in Bottles" in a book store in 1978, saw that this variation on ship modelling suited my needs perfectly and away I went.


I have no idea how many SiBs I've built and have only one in my possession, my most recent. Once completed I would lose interest in a model and gave them all away. I once made a brief side trip into model railroading but soon realized that running the trains quickly bored me to tears and that the lay-out is an even worse dust collector and takes up more room than a conventional static ship model - the only thing that interested me was the building. Similar with a side trip into R/C aircraft - I lost interest soon after I learned to fly well enough that each trip to the practice field did not require a rebuild.


I found Model Ship World 2 1/2 years ago followed by two social media SiB sites. In that time, with examples of miniature static models and SiBs from the best builders on Earth, I have greatly improved my work. I've had my latest piece featured in the most recent issue of "Model Shipwright" and had a "how-to" article appear in that same issue and in "Rose de Vents" (newsletter for the French SiB club) and have another article scheduled for the next issue of "Model Shipwright".



Close detail photo of fore topsail and topmast shrouds on my "Prairie Schooner Ogallala", taken in progress. Click image for a larger version.



Detail photo of Ogallala in the bottle which is a custom made glass sphere eight inches in diameter. 


I hope this forum does well.

Edited by Dave Fellingham
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Hi Dave,


Welcome to BSB.  You have quite the story of how you finally found ships in bottles.  I think that somehow we are all cut from the same piece of cloth as a lot of our passing hobbies are real similar.  Model trains, RC airplanes, RC sailboats, and even static wooden ships.  It's the trip, or the journey that got us where we are today that is very interesting.


Your model of the Prairie Schooner Ogallala is outstanding!  You have set the bar high.


Again, Welcome to BottledShipBuilder.



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