Picture of Bottle Ship

I used to do quite a few bottle ships as a kid. But I'd use rubber thread instead of real sewing thread so I wouldn't have to construct the ship to accommodate the complex rigging necessary to pull up the masts and sails. The rubber thread would do the job by itself once the ship was in the bottle.

That was good fun then, but it goes without saying that these ships weren't made to last... So I have always wanted to do a bottle ship by the book. – Well, here it is, documented and all. Have fun.

Step 1: The secret behind the bottle ship

When I saw my first bottle ship as a kid, I was puzzled how it got into the bottle. Well now I know. You have to construct the ship in a way that allows the masts and booms to collapse. This way, the ship can be made small enough to enter the bottle through the bottleneck. Furthermore the rigging has to be made so you will be able to erect the masts again, once the ship is inside the bottle. The trick here is that the rigging to the left and right of the masts must be places a little behind the masts. Otherwise the masts won't be able to collapse and will not be kept in the right angle once they get erected into the upright position.

Other than you think, the sails have to be glued to the masts and not the booms to do the collapsing trick.

Fixing the treads is done with a tiny drop of wood glue.

Check out the principle drawings and you will understand.

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natciqzxc22 months ago

its really cool when you dye some sand Blue and use that.

inspiredwood (author)  natciqzxc22 months ago

What a brilliant idea..! I'll try that next time.

natciqzxc22 months ago

WOW love how you presented this!

inspiredwood (author)  natciqzxc22 months ago


hohohe1 year ago

Great job, and very informative. Working on one right now, not sure if rigging is all one piece, or many. I realize pull lines are separate. Thank you again for posting your very fine instructable

inspiredwood (author)  hohohe1 year ago
Not sure if I get your question right, but maybe this answer can help. Every line in the cordage needs to be equally tight, when the masts stand, so that they support the masts. If one of the lines is tighter than the others, it might pull the mast to that side.
At the same time, you might want to have as few knots as possible to achieve a more beautiful look. I found it easiest achieved by using a long line and tying it to the mast so there would be enough line to both sides. This way I was able to tighten each side separately to adjust the mast's angle. – However, I missed one line and had to cut that line and make a new one for that side and that worked out ok too... :-)
inspiredwood (author)  inspiredwood1 year ago

Oh, and btw. I would appreciate it, If you would post at picture of the finished piece – Good luck :-)

It's been awhile, but I finally completed project, actually made Four (4 Grandchildren). They are in a YooHoo bottle, which is a chocolate drink.

Enclosed are pix's, and again, Thank You for your very good Instructable.

inspiredwood (author)  hohohe10 months ago

Awesome!!! Beautiful work. You have some lucky grand children :-). Thanks for the pix! Cheers

Thanks for reply, think I got you, rigging seems to be hardest part (@ least for me). As for pix, that depends on outcome, thanks again

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redpete571 year ago
Very succinct set of instructions. I've seen a book take several chapters to cover this.
Here are some varistoons you can do: Make 2 hulls and use one to press into the putty, so that when the putty is set you can paint it to represent whitecaps. Make a seaside landscape. Make a modern vessel in layers and introduce each layer through the bottle neck.
Have fun!
inspiredwood (author)  redpete571 year ago
Thanks for the tip! Good point about painting the water – I didn't know that one. I knew the layering technique but didn't have the time to try it this time because the bottle had to be complete quickly for an exhibition (I did it in just seven hours over two days). – I'll have to try the layering next time.
chri672z1 year ago

Are you danish? :-D

inspiredwood (author)  chri672z1 year ago
:-) Well, the flag suggests it...


inspiredwood (author)  feibenbaoshijie1 year ago


good work ... go on..

chicopluma1 year ago

lol, at first I thouth it was a cup

ggoodroe1 year ago

Magical...t's on my list!

where did that bottle come from? I've always seen bottle ships in long wine bottle and never found them that appealing but the small bottle is incredibly cool. Thanks

inspiredwood (author)  jfunderburk4561 year ago
Thanks, I picked up the bottle on a recycle yard. The guy, who was dumping it told me, it was some kind of cheap rose wine. I found the link: http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&docid=GYfiSr5TCZJNDM&tbnid=sGEbp0w0iWhvmM:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.strandgaarden.dk%2FMedinet%2BRose-1217a.htm&ei=v21HU-i5CoXNygPjhoHgCw&psig=AFQjCNGtaXm3vx2DKV02o01fe45KBXJrKw&ust=1397276462402767
Awesome. Thanks so much!

Thanks for posting this. Great detail and pictures. You have my vote.

Very well done. Love the illustrations. This is so clear I think I might give it a try with my grandson. Thanks for the instructable.

LizardShop1 year ago
im gonna give this a try this summer if i have time, cant wait.

Lizard Shop, If you can't wait, start now! Then you have the time, Right? Anyway good luck in your efforts

inspiredwood (author)  LizardShop1 year ago
Cool! Would be great if you post a picture of the result. Have fun.
chuckyd1 year ago

Great job

rimar20001 year ago

Very nice!

Omg, this is SO cool!!!! I will so be making one of these soon!

Awesome! Going to make this summer.Always wondered how to do this!

its_mishra1 year ago
Awesome!!!!!! Madness or passion,its hard to tell but lemme tell u that U v got really gifted hands.in the 1st para of ur ,u wondered how they got the ship inside,I understood ur explanation,but how do they make glass ships in bottles?inside out? u must have a lot of free time to make something as intricately designed as this here..simply beautiful. I can't even make my instructables half as neat as urs,tc,God bless
AB1BE1 year ago

Excellent explanation of your
techniques and beautiful illustrations!

tpobrienjr1 year ago

I like the angled bottle; it makes the model much more interesting. The model itself is a superb example of the classic ship-in-bottle technique, and the author's explanation is the best I've seen. Thanks!

inspiredwood (author)  tpobrienjr1 year ago
Wow! Thank you for the kind words.
sibu1 year ago

Thank you! I knew how the ships got in the bottles, but never knew what the "water" was. I have an very old, maybe even antique by now, tiny bottle with a ship in it, but the "water" is discolouring. The maker spread the paint up one side of the bottle, so the ship can only be seen from one side. Or, as the bottle is hexagonal, it laid on it's back before it was completely dry maybe. It looks like the ship was made from some modelling clay, but the rest is as you've described here. Here are a couple of photos of it (from my phone) with a quarter for reference:

2014-04-10 11.34.37.jpg2014-04-10 11.33.22.jpg
inspiredwood (author)  sibu1 year ago
Wow! That's cute. And tiny. Yea, there are many ways to do things. I once read an entire book about things in bottles. My favorite was a set, where a wooden crafts man sits in the bottle an makes a tiny bottle ship...:-)
paulaca1 year ago

mystery solved! I always wanted to know how put a ship in a bottle.

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