Jump to content
Bottled Ship Builder

Can this be considered a "real" ship in bottle

Recommended Posts

What we generally consider "real" ship in bottle building really only has a few rules.  Biggest of which is that the ship must be inserted through the bottle neck.  To be a "real"  ship in bottle one cannot cut the bottle.  Some drilled holes are allowed for wiring lights and things.  I'd even dare say cutting off the threads on the mouth of the bottle is OK because it doesn't drastically change the opening and the ship must still e collapsed.  But when a friend of mine comes to me and says I'm going to put a ship in a bottle by cutting it first.  I cringe inside. because I don't consider it real. but I smile and say, "you do you bro."  There is one piece of art though that falls in between the rules.  I thought I'd bring it up for discussion.  


Yinka Shonibare created a ship in bottle on commission for Trafalgar Square.  The model is a 1/30th scale Victory with textile sails representing the rich cultural history of the United Kingdom.  It's a great piece of art but....is it a true ship in bottle.  


As far as I can tell it does technically follow the rule that the ship must be inserted through the bottle neck how ever when the artists can walk into the bottle as well is it a "real" ship in bottle?  Or would it just be considered a large model built in a small room that happened to look like a bottle?  What do you all think?  



     One more question.  If this isn't a real ship in bottle what do you consider the largest real ship in bottle to be?  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shonibare's Victory is unique and not likely to be done again - whatever the ship inside. The cost of the bottle itself must have been truly extraordinary! It is a ship in a bottle but it is not a "mystery" or "impossible" bottle, as the in progress photo shows.

Four of the five oldest SiBs in existence by Giovanni and Francesco Biondo were rather large and display neck down. Guessing by visual references in the photos of these SiBs (bricks in a wall, a person in the photo, etc.) the bottles appear to be about 15 - 18 inches (38 - 45 cm), horizontally.

4 BIONDO3giovanni1fransesco.jpg

Giovanni Biondo signed the three on the left, the 1806 bottle is by Francesco who is presumed to have been Giovanni's son.

I think that a bottle with a neck large enough to easily reach inside spoils the impossible or mystery aspect.  From a practical standpoint, an SiB should not be so large that it can't be easily displayed in a person's home, needs two people to move it or provides an easy answer to the question, "How did he/she do that?"

Edited by Dave Fellingham
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I think that best describes it.  The magic of the ship in bottle is leaving people questioning how the ship got in there.  A ship in bottle of this size while interesting doesn't leave that question.  It's one of those things that I never considered a requirement of ship in bottle building.  Not like the no cutting the bottle rule but it is something to consider.

 I bought a Krafters kit when I first started and I really like those kits as beginner kits.  The bottle mouth is really wide which makes getting the ship in easier.  The kit doesn't display the same type of magic as a light bulb with the opening beneath the sea or a ship with a hull that is much larger than the width of the bottle neck.  It isn't as exciting or interesting but that little kit still made people wonder.  There is different degrees of the ship in bottle "magic" per say but I never thought of that as a requirement.  In general it's to hard to judge if a bottle is magic enough.  It takes a bottle so big you can climb inside to even bring up the question.  It's an interesting thought.  

 I got to give  Yinka Shonibare credit though. I wouldn't know where to find someone to create a bottle that size, building a model of the Victory is a chore in and of itself, building it in a tight space (though not like regular sip in bottle building) must not have been easy either.  Also this ship does bring great attention to our craft.    

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...