The “secret” to the ship in a bottle is that the masts fold and thus squashed, you can slip the hull through the neck of the bottle. Pulling on strings that are long enough to reach out of the neck of the bottle raises the masts. The surprise lesson I learned the day I tried to make my first ship in a bottle is that you need a separate line to raise each mast. I had assumed I could take one line from the top of the Mizzen, run it to the Main and from there to the Fore and run the line down to the Bowsprit and out the neck of the bottle. Pulling this one line SHOULD raise all the masts, Right? Not so. The geometry of the path each masthead is bound by as it swings up necessitates each mast must have its own line to haul it up. The “sea” is made from plastescene and I took some pains to add grey to the blue clay I had. Right out of the box, the blue clay looked too vividly blue.A tiny pinch of red clay well kneaded into the blue took some of the edge off the intense blue too. I roll the clay into “snakes” and get them into the bottom of the bottle, I tamp them down a bit with a shaped stick but the secret I have learned is to put the bottle into a warm oven at this stage and let the clay melt a bit- this ensures its as stuck to the glass as it may well get. Then, with everything cool again, I roll up some very thin white clay snakes and drape them in over the blue each about an inch apart and at a diagonal to the centerline of the bottle and smear them into the blue with the stick- this gives a nice sea-like appearance.
You have to make a lot of sticks to use as tools to work things around within the bottle. One task is to cut a hole the shape of the waterline into the “sea” and for that I put a dull#11 blade into a notch cut in a bamboo skewer to cut the hole in the water to drop the ship into. When you get the ship in there you have to use other blunt ended sticks to tamp the clay sea up against the hull. Here again I use a white “snake” of clay and mash it up against the hull while at the same time smearing it into the blue of the “sea” so it blends and this makes a bow wave and a wake. The clay is the only thing holding the hull to the sea. And when you pull the strings to erect the masts, the adhesion of the waterline and whatever clay that remains under the hull is the only thing resisting the pull of the strings your using to raise the masts, so err on the side of “stuck in the clay as much as possible”.
I build and rig the model outside the bottle on a construction jig with two tiny screws holding the hull in place. All the rigging goes off to one end of the jig and is literally belayed there on pins made of short lengths of bamboo skewers. Its nice to be able to adjust them since you wind up testing the folding mechanism a lot as you build and rig. The more important lines are numbered with a tape tag on the working end since they will all look the same when the ship is in the bottle. All the lines come down to the deck and pass through holes drilled right through to the bottom. The lines from the foremast go through difficult to drill holes in the brass rod bowsprit. The ones coming up from the under the hull simply emerge from the clay at the bow and exit the neck of the bottle. The “fairleads” are very thin wire eyes with tails that twist around the various spars. Its possible to drill holes in the spars but I find this is the source of most of the trouble and breakage when I do this sort of work and I gladly trade off the ability to spot the wire eyes if you look for them against the heartache of having a nearly finished rig ruined by a last minute spar snapping.
Edited by JerseyCity Frankie, 02 May 2013 - 02:39 AM.