Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Coy. Coy Wonders, “How do people get ships in bottles?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Coy!
Recently, we were searching for something fun to do here in Wonderopolis. We had already explored the Wonder of the Day and played a few games. After some thinking, we decided we wanted to learn a new craft. That's when we had a perfect idea. We would learn how to build a ship inside a bottle!
First, we wanted to know where the idea for ships inside bottles came from. We found out that model ships originated with sailors. Ancient and medieval sailors spent months at sea. Whether they were discovering new lands, transporting goods for trade, or raiding other ships, these sailors often had a lot of spare time on their hands.
Many sailors filled this spare time by telling stories or stargazing. Others made model ships. Using scraps of wood and fabric, sailors would create miniature vessels to look just like the ships they were on. For centuries, sailors created model ships, and the craft became more artistic as time went on.
However, people didn't put these model ships into bottles until the mid-19th Century. Historians think this was because, before that time, it was difficult to find bottles made of transparent glass. Today, you can find ships inside bottles at museums, art galleries, and even the homes of everyday people.
Many people believe artists who build ships inside bottles are swindlers or magicians. How else could they insert an entire ship into a bottle? We knew there had to be a better answer. After some investigation, we learned everything we wanted to know about building a ship inside a bottle.
Are you WONDERing what the secret is?
It turns out, the trick to building a ship inside a bottle is to make the ship collapsible. That means the masts and sails need to lie flat against the deck of the ship until the ship is inside the bottle. Artists accomplish this using wire. They run the wire through holes at the bottom of each mast and then out the bottom of the ship. Until they pull the wire, the masts lay on the deck so the whole ship can fit through the neck of the bottle!
Before putting the ship inside the bottle, many artists create an ocean. They push blue putty into the bottle and used the extra wire to smooth it out, except for a few waves. As the putty dries, the artist pushes the ship, with the masts still lying flat, into the bottle. Finally, they pull the wire attached to the masts. The masts stand, and the ship sets sail!
We found out that building a ship inside a bottle takes a lot of time and patience. What craft should we learn about next time? Maybe we'll learn how to put other objects inside a bottle, like a deck of cards or a tennis ball. Does that sound impossible? We're already WONDERing how it's done!