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How to Make a Ship in a Bottle - Odysseus and the Sirens.

In this tutorial I show you how to make a ship in a bottle from scratch. Everything is hand made including the ship. And there are several small sculptures.

The theme of this bottle is from the Odyssey.

We see Odysseus tied to the mast of his ship and listening to the song of the sirens.

This project also comes with a video. It is at the bottom of the page.

Will has a youtube channel with over 700 videos on projects you can make. Check it out right here




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Will's Thoughts and overview

There are a lot of aspects to a ship in a bottle project that I really like. First off it makes for a nice display piece you can keep on your desk or on a shelf. People always ask. How did you get the ship in there?

Secondly we exercise a wide variety of skills when making something like this including researching and building a miniature. Then there is a little bit of fun involved because you build it in a way that it is collapsible to fit into the bottle. Then it can be raised into full shape. This entails some of it being hinged and stringed. And some of it being added afterwards.

And this project has three sculpted miniatures. That is a whole other fun aspect of the project. If you follow my work you know I love to sculpt miniatures :)

Using a pin vise

And a lot of people have been asking me about the miniature hand drill that I use in this tutorial and video. It is a tool called a Pin Vise Drill. Neat little tool. They have them on amazon right here: Pin Vises on Amazon


Would you consider a donation of $1 to support my work? Paypal makes it very easy and safe. Click here to donate $1 - Every little bit helps Will to keep making great tutorials and projects. Thanks!




Let's take a look at the Major Techniques we use


The miniature ship

The biggest aspect of a ship in a bottle is getting most of the ship to fold so it can fit through the mouth of the bottle. You then insert it and pull on strings to open it up. This picture shows the ship with the strings being pulled. The ship is fully opened.






Inserting ship into the bottle

This picture shows the ship folded up and being inserted into the bottle.








Feed the string through holes

This picture shows you how we work the strings. This tail piece on the back of the ship has a hole drilled in it. The string is passed through the hole. So, we pull both strings and it will pull the tail piece into position. Once the glue sets we then pull only one end of the string. This pulls the string out of the piece and right out of the bottle.

We do the same thing for the mast of the ship.





Another technique we use is to add sections to the ship after it has been installed into the bottle. In this case I have made an oar section. If it were already attached to the ship the whole thing would never fit through the bottle neck. So we make it separately then glue it to the ship after it is in the bottle. A tacky glue and a wire with a hook on it is used.

The oar segment    Attaching oars to ship


And here is a look at how to string the various parts.

Wrapping the thread

You run a thread around the part that will be pulled into position. In this case we have the mast. So, coming out of the mouth of the bottle is both ends of the string. If you pull on both the mast will be raised.








Releasing the thread

Once the mast is in position and the glue has set you then pull on only one end of the string. The string will come right out.








An eye hoop

And if it is impractical to wrap the string around a part you can always create a small eye hoop for the string. Like this one here. Although this one is much larger than needed, just so you can see it.








Odysseus and the Sirens

This picture shows us a closeup of Odysseus tied to the mast of the ship and you can see the two Sirens in the water calling to him.


NextOkay, lets continue. We will go over the materials used and start the building of it.







The Video Tutorial is here:


The Odyssey by Homer

With an Introduction and Notes by Adam Roberts Royal Holloway, University of London Homer's great epic describes the many adventures of Odysseus, Greek warrior, as he strives over many years to return to his home island of Ithaca after the Trojan War. His colourful adventures, his endurance, his love for his wife and son have the same power to move and inspire readers today as they did in Archaic Greece, 2800 years ago. This poem has been translated many times over the years, but Chapman's sinewy, gorgeous rendering (1616) stands in a class of its own. Chapman believed himself inspired by the spirit of Homer himself, and matches the breadth and power of the original with a complex and stunning idiom of his own. John Keats expressed his admiration for the resulting work in the famous sonnet, 'On first looking into Chapman's Homer': 'Much have I travelled in the realms of gold...'


I do have another tutorial on making a ship in a bottle. This one uses an inexpensive kit and is very easy to make:

Make a Ship in a bottle

This is an overview tutorial showing you some of the important tips and tricks for making a ship in a bottle. Fun project- Make a ship in a bottle



Constitution ship in a bottle




Build a ship in a bottle book

Build a Ship in a Bottle: The complete how to guide to mastering the ancient mariners art of ship in a bottle building.

The complete how to guide to mastering the ancient mariners art of ship in a bottle building. This exciting new text details all the tricks of the trade and secretes involved in building these unique miniature sailing vessels. Capt. Dan teaches builders to understand the basic principals involved in building these tall ship replicas. After reading this heavily illustrated text, readers should have a good understanding of how to design rig and build both square sailed as well as fore and aft rigged vessels. They will then be able to apply these basic principles and techniques to build any type of sailing ship they choose. Please note that there are many different techniques used by different builders in creating their ship models. Some use elaborate mast hinges while others contend with a maze of rigging lines which all run through and under the hull. This book teaches Capt. Dan's basic and the straight forward simple techniques that the authors uses on all of his ship in a bottle models. These basics can be enhanced and modified as model builders become more proficient. Capt. Dan has included a showcase of ship in bottle images from some of the best master model builders in the world. Anyone that is interested in maritime history, sailing or just loves the sea, will enjoy crafting and then displaying their own nautical ship in a bottle.



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