SHIPS in BOTTLES by Michel Bardet            

Some Know-How

I am happy you opened this chapter : this means that you wish to know a little more about the mystery of building "Ships in bottles".
Maybe you just got the urge to throw yourself into this "adventure" and I would like to think that you have been inspired by my models of ships in bottles showed in the various chapters of this Web site.
In this Web site, it is not possible for me to explain everything in details because there is a lot to tell and the files would be too oversized. I will only give you some rules you have to respect when you take up this special category of model making as a hobby for the first time.

First of all, the interest of this kind of activity is that you don't need too much place and it requires only a few tools. You have to manufacture specific tools to work inside the bottle.
You cannot find them in shops.
It is also necessary to be calm and patient, because some stages of the setting under glass may drive you on nerves.

A golden rule you have to respect:
The time spent to put a boat in a bottle successfully, doesn't have any importance. Only the final result matters.

The choice of the boat :
For the first boat that you are going to put in a bottle, I advise you to choose an easy boat to build, such like a tuna boat, a monohull sailing dinghy, or - a little more difficult - a two-masted schooner.
You will have plenty of time to carry on more sophisticated models after you have had pratice in building some of those ones.

The choice of the bottle:
According to the boat chosen, it is necessary to select the most suitable bottle :
- For a traditional sailing ship, use a flask or a bottle.
- For a monohull sailing dinghy, choose a light bulb or a laboratory phial.
It's up to you to choose the "bottle" according to your artistic inclination, but it is necessary to get and maintain a certain harmony between the boat and the bottle.

The transparency of the glass:
When you are choosing your bottle, you have to watch out for its transparency and particularly for its magnifying effects that you may encounter with too thick glasses like those of whisky bottles, because they distort the image of the boat. The trick is to insert a graduated rule in the bottle and judge of its distortion through the glass.
The easy way is to introduce a rule into the bottle and to judge through glass, of its deformation.

The choice of the scale:
You have chosen the boat and found the bottle. Now, you have to estimate the size of your model, so that it can be inserted through the neck of the bottle and occupy a good percentage of the interior volume of your flask. Do not forget to take into account the level of the sea, which generally takes 15% of the available height.

The choice of the technique:
Refer to the chapters "basic technique to build ships in bottles" or use my personal technique.

Special tool:
On the photograph opposite, you can see the drawing of a tool, which will enable you to work inside the bottle.
It can be manufactured in a metal rod, or in a knitting needle.

Adjustment of the special tool:

Opposite, the assembly of various accessories: Brush, razor blade, fabric, which will be useful for working inside the bottle:

- To make painting retouches.
- To cut "working lines".
- To clean the inside of the bottle.

Modelling the sea:
You can model the sea in carved wood, in tinted or painted mastic used by glaziers, in resin or modelling clay. I advise you against using modelling clay, because it could happen that the clay comes off from the glass.

The ropes:
I use glove thread. It is a very fine thread , n 120. It is white, black or beige coloured , but it is always possible to dye it in red, blue or green, in order to use it for the modern sailing ships.

In case of difficulties, do not hesitate to contact me.

The glues:
To stick the various elements of the boat, I use:
- some wood glue for the outside of the bottle.
- some quick-acting glue containing cyanolite substance for the inside of the bottle.

The base support presenting of the bottle:
It is made out of wood or cord, or it can be a mere craddle. You can draw your inspiration from my own constructions.

  • Return to the main page

  • Introduction
  • Basic technique to put a ship in a bottle
  • My personal technique
  • Exhibitions and demonstrations
  • Restoration of boats in bottles
  • Traditional sailing boats
  • Winners of the " Route du Rhum " race in multihulls
  • Other models in bottles, bulbs and flasks
  • Model under construction