Friday, 30 March 2012


I have always been fascinated by the intriguing art of placing ships in bottles. I treasure my ship inside a Haig bottle because it feels part of my childhood. It sat on a shelf in my grandparent's house, a present from my father returning home from one of his merchant navy voyages. I often wondered how that ship with all its masts and rigging could have possibly got into the tiny neck of the bottle. Stephanie Cole's bold prints capture the spirit of the ship in a bottle perfectly. She clearly also has a interest in this unusual craft. People have been putting things inside bottles since the mid eighteenth century. From human and heavenly figures to wooden puzzles. Some of the earliest examples come from monasteries where the quiet hours of contemplation were also spent carving tiny miniatures. Ships started to be put into bottles in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sailors were encouraged by the improvement in glass bottle production giving thinner glass and less bubbles making the ship more visible inside. The most common method of putting a ship in a bottle was probably the flatpack approach so that all the masts could lie flat ready for insertion into the neck. Once it inside the ship would be placed gently on a putty sea. The masts were then raised by pulling the rigging. It all sounds so simple but it is a very meticulous process and difficult to achieve. I could sail away in my ship in a bottle right now....

1 comment:

  1. Oh how fabulous! And I love the prints too. I still remember the feeling of 'a-ha!' the first time I actually saw how it was done.

    K x