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Selecting the Right Container

By: Greg Alvey


I am always amazed when I see a wonderful piece of folk art, whether a ship or whimsy, built in a bottle that is scratched, cloudy, filmy, distorted, overly seamed, or embossed or imprinted in such a way to make it hard to see and appreciate the objects built and placed inside.  I am not talking about an old, turn of the century model, or a model made by a sailor, tramp, prisoner of war, or an individual who had very little access to and choice of the bottle they used.  Nor am I referring to containers like a dimple bottle (often considered as the classic ship in bottle container) with sides that somewhat distorted the contents inside.  And finally, I’m not referring to bottles which have been marred, scratched, or defaced through accident or mishandling.


What I’m referring to here are models being made in current times where there are ample sizes, types, and styles for the modeler to choose from.  I’ve seen bottles the wrong shape and size and imprinted where it becomes very hard to see and appreciate the craftsmanship and details inside.  Containers should be chosen with a specific model in mind.  If we see our container as a wonderful glass showcase specifically chosen to properly display our creations to best advantage then we might better understand that it really does matter what glass container we choose.


First and foremost, our containers should be as clean and as free from defects, distortions, and other distracters as possible.  Although there are wonderful examples of bottled whimsies enhanced by simplicity of construction and quite a bit of space in the bottle, models generally look best when they fill the container.  Those who make bottled whimsy’s know how difficult it to make even relatively simple ships and folk art in bottles, but when there is a great deal of empty space it seems to negate the challenges faced and can lessen the appreciation of the skills required because it just didn’t look that difficult to get in the bottle and doesn’t display that well.