In 2013, I had an idea to make Fitzcarraldo’s ship in a bottle. I had planned to 3D print a model, maybe in modular parts so it could actually fit in a bottle, and designed a fairly simple model of the ship in one of Autodesk’s free apps. Then I got a little busy in the intervening years. I am now less busy.
(Fitzcarraldo, a film by Werner Herzog, follows a fanatic’s dream of funding an opera house in the jungle by harvesting rubber from trees in an untapped territory, but to reach them, he needs to drag a boat across land where two rivers almost meet. Herzog famously filmed the sequence by actually doing what’s depicted: dragging a giant boat up a hill.)
So obviously the bottle would depict that scene, with the boat mid-hill.
I got to thinking about it again, and decided to see what sort of new 3D printing materials Shapeways has added since I last tinkered. They now offer a “fine detail plastic” that’s particularly well-suited for scale models and miniatures.
Another reason I hadn’t done any more work on it in six years ago simply was the price; at the time I uploaded a 6″ version, but printing a nearly banana-sized boat would cost $100 today (and significantly more back then, but I don’t remember how much).
So I tried a 3″ version, and it only cost $21.69 in fine detail plastic. Sure, why not. (Plus shipping and taxes and a expedition fee unless you are very patient, making it thirty something dollars altogether.) That’s where I am now.
I haven’t found the perfect bottle yet. The boat is specifically 2.7″ and .99″ tall at its highest point, the smokestack thing. I’m thinking about something like this:
That’s about 3″ long; it would be a pretty tight fit if I want a substantial hill in there. A little bigger and I might be able to fit some little trees in there too. And the wide neck is essential, since I’m not actually bothering to assemble the boat in the bottle. More of a ship in a jar.
So now I’m just thinking about jars, looking at jars. I can go ahead and paint the ship (although the translucent plastic is itself fascinating, maybe good for a ghost ship).
But I’m in no rush, so it might be another six years before I stick a cork in this idea.