Not a message in a bottle, but a ship … Ever wondered how it got in there anyway? I did and luckily I ran into Tom who explained and showed me everything. There are three basic things you need (beside the materials of course): A lot of Time, Love and Patience. A LOT of Patience. And a lot of thinking as well, because you need to know the exact order of the various steps.

Tom is used to all that thinking though since the started to build model planes already when he was at school. “I rather did that than going to school in the first place. And it just had to be perfect! Then, one day I got hold of this model of a ship in a bottle, I made three of those and then I said to myself I could not use those models anymore. Because sailors who built these things in the past also didn’t use models obviously. They made everything themselves.”

And so he did. Practically all tools are handmade. For the ship itself he uses matches, paper, thin threads. The bottle obviously is also important and sometimes he finds beautiful ones just at the wastebin. Or … when he is paying someone a visit who pours him a drink from a beautiful bottle.

“When it comes to building the ship you can do a lot of preparations but the final steps can only be done after you put the ship IN the bottle. And then you have to pay close attention and really think how to proceed because once you put the ship in the bottle, you can’t take it out anymore”.

Tom invites me to try it myself. You need to have a steady hand, that’s for sure. The ship needs to be pushed in the bottle while all the sails are down. Small threads are attached to each individual sail and each of these threads gets a unique number. These numbers decide the exact order in which the sails need to be raised. “But sometimes it still doesnt’t work out the way I planned. Then, my wife walks in, tells me to watch some television while she is fixing it!”

Tom already created 122 pieces of art and is now working on number 123.


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