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Bottled Ship Builder

Sails, Sails, and Sails

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I was wondering about how everyone makes their paper sails.  I know that some use CAD, and other programs to create and resize their sails.  I know that some use copy, parchment, cigarette, and other forms of paper.


So my question really isn't to much about paper, but more on how do you construct your sails prior to attaching them to the spars?  What is your workflow process?  And how do you actually attach them when the time comes? 



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Usually, I try to prepare my sails as near to the end of building as possible to prevent damage to them. Sometimes it's more practical to attach sails to yards, booms and gaffs when working on a mast assembly off the vessel. Staysails are usually near the last to go on before the model goes in the bottle but sometimes this rule gets bent with the lowest staysails between the masts.


On small models, I glue them to the spar or thread with thinned pva (about 1 part water to 2 parts pva) but intend to try very lightly thinned artists acrylic matte varnish for this light gluing task. Reason for this is that pva does not glue to cured pva well while the varnish does to itself. By lightly thinned I mean a moist brush dipped into the varnish and worked until I have the right consistency just a little thinner than the varnish alone. I experimented with the varnish as a glue on the rigging knots on a recent build and liked it - it holds as well as thinned pva, it sticks to itself well and is better than ca which dries brittle and doesn't always wick into the fibers. Ca often dries white where it builds up instead of wicking into the fibers and pva can cure milky, while the varnish always dries clear.


On larger models, I sew my sails on. My finest fly tie thread is about .002 inch / 0.05 mm in diameter which works out to be about 3/8 inch / 1 mm at 1/200 scale so I limit the sewing of sails to about 1/250 and larger scales to keep my rope close to scale. Poking holes with a needle point tears the paper usually out to the edge so I drill holes (.010 inch / 0.25 mm) in the sails. Drilling the holes allows them to be closer to the edge without tearing. I space the holes at about 1 scale foot / 30 scale cm and use a light gray fly thread that is somewhat translucent and takes on some of the color of the spar, sail or stay behind it which keeps the stitching subtle. I dip the end of the thread in ca to make it into a needle of sorts to pass it through the hole. I use a spiraling stitch around the spar or stay through each hole. In most cases this is only a simulation of the method used for real but is much easier to do and looks good with scale 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch rope on spars. Because the spiral stitch on staysails is least like the real method, I use fine fly thread on them even at 1/100 scale and larger. 



Detail of recent project with scale spiral stitch securing the fore topsail to the yard. The sail is also glued with varnish.



Detail of the mainsail boom. I also glued the edge of the sail to the boom after it was stitched in place



Jib sail with fine gray fly thread. This sail is glued to the stay so I can twist the stay inside the bottle to make the sail look like it's full of wind.


These sails were drawn digitally and printed on both sides of high quality, standard weight copy paper (20 pound).



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Great tutorial on how you make and apply your sails.  The attention to detail really brings out the realism of your work. I like your approach to drilling holes in the sail rather than punching a hole with a pin to keep the tearing out of the equation.  





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