Ray Gascoigne has built 200 wooden ships. Although they might not be tall ships, they’re still a large undertaking — at least when it comes to effort.
Gascoigne has made a hobby out of tiny building ships in bottles. In a short film by Smith Journal, Gascoigne saw one such ship and thought “gee that’s a good little hobby.”
“I just love the shape of them,” he said.
To construct the tiny ships, Gascoigne uses western red cedar. For the finer pieces of wood, like the masts, he uses bamboo skewers.
The first drills he used, he made out of needles. Now, there are shops with specialized drills for such a tiny job.
The question everybody has is how the ship gets into the bottle? Gascoigne constructs them outside the bottle but makes sure there’s enough room at the neck for the creation to fit through. Giving the illusion that the ship would be difficult to fit through the neck of the bottle, the masts on the vessel are collapsed when the ship is entered and pulled upright once it’s in its final position.
Smith Journal, on its website, explained the backstory of how it came to know Gascoigne, a shipright and merchant seaman:
Ray’s story unfolded slowly. His daughter Bron and son-in-law Dean contacted us last year about the possibility of telling Ray’s tale, and it’s an honour to feature his boats in Smith volume six. To make the film, Commoner’s Mark Welker and Aaron Cuthbert spent three days in Ray’s small apartment on the north coast of Sydney, discussing his work and capturing the process.
“When you finish one there’s a sense of achievement,” Gascoigne said. “When it turns out a good model, you know looks good, people admire it. Gives you a good feeling — probably like an artist would when he’s finished a painting.”
Watch the short, less than 5-minute feature by Smith Journal: