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Mercury Ship in a Bottle by Daniel Siemens, Page 3

Putting the Mercury Into the Bottle

This is the part of the model that really fascinated me - how to get the ship into the bottle? But that explanation had to wait; Daniel had to create the water inside that would hold the ship.

Putting the clay "sea" in the bottle
Photo: Daniel Siemens, from his blog
Daniel Prepares to Paint Whitecaps on the Plasticine Sea
While he didn't take photos of doing this, Daniel does outline the method for making an SIB sea on his blog in an article called On High Seas.

He starts with plasticine clay, trimming and molding it so that it will fit in the bottle. Then he folds it and slides it inside. Daniel notes that he prefers to place the sea on top of the seam the bottle so the view of the ship is not obstructed. He uses a coat hanger with a bend in it to unroll the clay and prod the flattened clay into wave-like texture.

He paints whitecaps on the waves for added realism. There is far more to creating a believable clay sea than I have explained, but I suggest you read Daniel's blog to learn more.

With the waves in place, it was time to put the Mercury in the bottle. I had asked him earlier if he used tricks like bottles that came in two parts. His response:

Mercury in the Bottle Neck
Photo: Daniel Siemens
The Mercury in a Bottle Neck (Hah!
"Cutting the bottle is considered cheating and not a true ship in bottle. There are several techniques to get them in the most common is the hinge method which allows the mast to fold back. I like to make my ships as real as possible so I leave off the hinges. With no hinges people that don't know the technique are left guessing and assume the entire ship is built piece by piece in the bottle which is incredibly difficult, if not impossible."

Fortunately for us, Daniel explains how this is done; I will let him continue the narrative from here.

Mercury in the Bottle Neck Close
Photo: Daniel Siemens
Close Up Image of the Mercury in the Neck of the Bottle
"Here you can see the big secret of how the ship gets in the bottle. Every true ship in bottle goes through the bottle neck. In this case the masts are folded down against the hull. Sails are curled around the hull so the don't crinkle. The Mercury took a bit of work since she just barley fit through. Once in the stay lines are pulled tight and the masts pushed into place."

"A drop of glue is put on the stay lines running out the bow. Once they dry the lines running out the bottle are cut off. At this point I epoxied the ship to the bottle. Epoxy ensures it isn't going any where."

"The stay lines are set and the running lines are running out of the bottle. I will use these to position the spars and then they are glued down and cut off as well. "

Mercury in the Bottle
Photo: Daniel Siemens - The Mercury in Her New Home
After the ship was put into position and the masts raised, the running lines were set and cut off. Daniel didn't explain how the ship was positioned, but I am going to guess he used his trusty hooked coat hanger wire and a lot (and I mean a lot) of patience. He also put the Gullah in there at some point. (Probably before the Mercury, given her position.) When he sent me the last batch of photos of the Mercury in her bottle, Daniel sent the following comment.

"Well I have to admit I'm jealous. This ship is by far my best work. The bottle it's in has the best clarity I've seen in a bottle."

"It's a tradition of mine to call the entering of the ship into the bottle her maiden voyage. Old sailor superstition has it that the maiden voyage is a reflection of the life of the ship. If that's the case the Mercury's got a good long life in front of her. She shook off the snags and problems and came together with ease. She's been a pleasure to work on. I'm more then happy that she's going to a good home."

The Mercury and the Bottle
Photo: Daniel Siemens - The Mercury in the Bottle as Seen From the Side

Angled Bottle View Left
Photo: Daniel Siemens - Angled Bottle View Left
Angled Bottle View Right
Photo: Daniel Siemens -Angled Bottle View Right

The last step was to add a turk's head knot to the bottle neck which Daniel explained was a ship in the bottle building tradition. It also gives me an excuse to post a few more photos of this lovely piece of art.

Mercury Ship in Bottle with Knot
Photo: Mission - The Turk's Head Knot on the Mercury Ship in a Bottle
Mercury Ship in Bottle Label
Photo: Mission -The Label Inside the Bottle

Giving the Mercury in the Bottle To William

At the Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion, I tracked William down and assembled the crew so I could give it to him. He was delighted, commenting that it was "so weird to see it in three dimensions." After the crew admired it for awhile, told me he had to take it around camp and show it off. When he returned, he carefully tucked it into a burlap bag so that it wouldn't be in the hot, direct sunlight of Key West. He told us that he wished he had had a fireplace at his house to he could set it on the mantle when he got home, but that we would find a place of honor for it.

William opening the box
Photo: Mission
William Unpacking His Ship
William Close Up with Mercury
Photo: Mission
William Admiring the Mercury in a Bottle
William and madPete with the Ship in a Bottle
Photo: Mission
Mercury Sailor madPete Adrmiring It

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