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.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: The secret behind the bottle ship

Picture of 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.

1-40 of 50Next »
hohohe9 months 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)  hohohe9 months 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)  inspiredwood9 months 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)  hohohe5 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

snoopindaweb9 months ago

~ : - }

snoopindaweb9 months ago

~ : - }

redpete5711 months 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)  redpete5711 months 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.
chri672z11 months ago

Are you danish? :-D

inspiredwood (author)  chri672z11 months ago
:-) Well, the flag suggests it...


inspiredwood (author)  feibenbaoshijie11 months ago


laith mohamed11 months ago

good work ... go on..

chicopluma11 months ago

lol, at first I thouth it was a cup

ggoodroe11 months ago

Magical...t's on my list!

jfunderburk45611 months ago

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)  jfunderburk45611 months 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:
Awesome. Thanks so much!
aleutianwind11 months ago

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

Gartholameau11 months ago

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.

LizardShop11 months 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)  LizardShop11 months ago
Cool! Would be great if you post a picture of the result. Have fun.
chuckyd11 months ago

Great job

rimar200011 months ago

Very nice!

craft-n-genius11 months ago

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_mishra11 months ago
Awesome!!!!!! Madness or passion,its hard to tell but lemme tell u that U v got really gifted 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
AB1BE11 months ago

Excellent explanation of your
techniques and beautiful illustrations!

tpobrienjr11 months 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)  tpobrienjr11 months ago
Wow! Thank you for the kind words.
sibu11 months 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)  sibu11 months 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...:-)
paulaca11 months ago

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

lonesoulsurfer11 months ago
Great ible' - really well documented.
inspiredwood (author)  lonesoulsurfer11 months ago

Thanks! I just checked out your chanel. Nice projects. I'll have to try out your book binding instructable some time in the future...

shazni11 months ago

*sigh* sooo lovely *sigh* I just love it :-)

inspiredwood (author)  shazni11 months ago

Thanks! You got some nice projects your self shazni! Lovely stuff!

1-40 of 50Next »