Sailors used to make ships in bottles as an onboard hobby, where they didn’t have much room for other occupations or money to buy gifts for loved ones at home. The process has become a mysterious art and you can find some absolutely fabulous creations. However you can also build your own ship in a bottle, either for your own pleasure or to give as a gift.
Build your own ships in bottles
If you are really crafty, you can build your ship from scratch from craft wood – but this is not a task for the faint hearted! You will need to be very deft with tiny pieces of equipment and have plenty of time on your hands. On the other hand, if you have the skills and the patience, the result will be incredibly rewarding! You can also find online tutorials detailing how to create a bottle ship from paper. For most people, however, a ship in a kit is the way to go.
Make ships in bottles from kits
You can find bottle ship building kits online and in craft shops. Essentially you construct the ship and attach the sails, which are on hinges and can be folded down. You can then slide the ship into the bottle and pull a string to raise the sails remotely. Instructions vary but your kit should contain light wood cut to shape to construct a hull, dowels to make masts, crossbeams and a bowsprit, sail hinges, some material to make sails and lots of thread to control them. You will need decent glue to hold it all together, a sharp craft knife, tweezers and a small paintbrush.
You also need to find a pretty bottle for the ship and decorate it appropriately.
Decorating a ship bottle
On a basic level, you can paint ‘water’ in blue on the bottom of your bottle. You can then go further and set a scene, if you like. Start by covering your blue paint ‘water’ with some clear glue, then use a long, thin dowel to push items in place through the neck of the bottle. You can use a sand, rocks and miniature anchors to create a shipwreck effect – ideal if your shipbuilding efforts haven’t gone smoothly as you can say the ship is meant to look a bit battered! You can also look at adding fish and other sea creatures to the bottle or, if you’re really clever, a little jetty alongside the ship.