Ship -in -a -Bottle
By Joe Barr
Joe Barr has been building ships-in-bottles since the mid-1980s. He specializes in Great Lakes vessels.
Joe developed his skill by reading books, by experimenting and by corresponding with other ship-in-bottle makers around the world. He is an active member of the Ships in Bottles Association of America and the European Association of Ships in Bottles. He regularly submits articles that are published in the quarterly journals of both associations.
He has exhibited in the Navy Museum in Washington, DC and in municipal and library buildings near his home in Eastpointe, Michigan.
The techniques that he uses in building the model ships follow a tradition that is over 200 years old. Besides building the models, he researches the history of each ship and drafts appropriately scaled plans based on photographs or plans of the actual ships.
Each ship-in-bottle is hand-crafted. He starts with a block of wood and hand carves the hull. These models are so small that all parts and details must be hand-made. Acid-free paper is used for the sails and flags and all the flags are hand painted. The water is a mixture of oil paint and glazing putty.
The photos on this page are of two very different Great Lakes ships: Zach Chandler and John Stanton.
Zach Chandler, built at Detroit, Michigan in 1867, was a wooden, three-mast schooner, that carried the typical Great Lakes schooner rig, including the triangular sail (called the raffee) on the foremast. This model is based on two pastels done by Vincent D. Nickerson in 1882 and 1883. The Chandler lasted until October 1892 when she stranded and broke up on the shores of Lake Superior near Deer Park, Michigan.
John Stanton, on the other hand, was a straight-deck bulk freighter built in 1905 at Lorain, Ohio. The Stanton spent her entire career on the Lakes as part of the Pioneer Steamship Company. In 1961, she was sold and scrapped in Superior, Wisconsin. A year later, on October 26, 1962, the Pioneer Steamship Company went out of business.
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