Monday, July 8, 2013


"You'll go a long way before you see seagulls in bottles." - George Fulfit

This concept behind this post started with the documentary "Steady as She Goes" about George Fulfit a ship in bottle builder who made a trade mark of putting seagulls in his bottles.  

I watched this video a long time ago and had always kept the idea in the back of my mind.  I saw that George  carved his seagulls and made the wings out of Styrofoam.  The seagulls worked well for his bottle but they seemed to be to big for the ones I was building.  Months later I saw seagulls again in a bottle by Heather Rodgers.  Again I wondered how this was done.  Heather's answer was simple.  The seagulls are paper built up with paint.  

I decided to experiment with idea it came out so good I used it as a finishing touch for my recent Yacht America.  

The first thing to do when making a seagull to go into your bottle is get the right shape.  I did a quick Google search on seagull outlines to get the right idea.  They are actually quiet simple, point for a head curving wings and a fan like tail. Once I got the general shape I found I could draw the wings head or tail in different ways to get different mid flight type poses.

Once the seagull is drawn I start on the wing color.  Mostly because it's easier to do before the gull is cut out.  There are many different types of gulls so they can be any variety of colors.  The ones I've seen most often though have grey wing with black tips.  I draw in the grey with a pencil making it as feathery as possible and then draw deep black streaks on the tips of the wings with a black colored pencil.  Once that is done I cut the seagull out with an exato knife.

Now it's time to get out the paint.  I use acrylics since they wash out with water and are so easy to use.  They also have a way of clumping when you paint over a surface multiple times which is good and bad.  For seagulls it's a good thing.  I put a nice big glob of white paint on the body and let it dry if my seagul is still looking a little flat I add another one and let it dry until I have a nice looking gull.

I then move on to the beak and feet.  Sometimes I use orange for this sometimes yellow just depends on what I want at the time.  With the gulls being so small I just dip a toothpick in the paint and then dab it onto the beak and press in two dabs for the feet.  Chances are no one will see the feet but it's fun to know they are there.  The last part is folding the wings.  I fold the wings where they connect with the body then round them out like they are catching the wind.  This is important in that they will be glued to the bottle by the wing tip.  Now they are ready to fly.

The last part is the most tricky and is probably best done with an ear polypus.  Since mine broke I've been stuck using coat hangers so I made one that cradles the seagull while I get it in position.  I use super glue to glue the seagull to the side of the bottle where I want it to be flying around.  Put just a dab of glue on the side of the wing and touch it to the side of the bottle where you want the gull.  Then hold very very still.  Super glue and glue in general has a weird tendency to not dry when it's moving.  I also will note to be very careful putting glue on the sides of your bottle.  If to much glue is applied it can distort the glass and distract from the seagull and the ship.

Also a word of caution with super glue.  Normal grocery store super glue which is what I use has a lot of fumes.  If you cork the bottle before the glue is dry the fumes fog up the inside of the bottle and is very hard to clean.  If you use super glue leave the bottle open with the top facing up to let the fumes out.  I let it sit like this three to five minutes while the glue dries.  Hold the gull in place until it looks like the wing is firmly glued to the bottle.   If you end up getting some unwanted glue on the side of the bottle don't worry about it.  It's inevitable with seagulls.  Get a long dowel and attach an exacto knife at a 45 degree angle at the end.  Once the glue dries use the blade to scrape off the unwanted glue.

Now slowly pull the wire out until your well clear of the seagull.  With the gull being so small the paper holds it's weight on the wing and the gull appears to be flying around the bottle.   I didn't have a whole lot of time so the gulls I made for this post aren't as good as they can get.  Have patience and work with it and you can get some pretty good looking seagulls.


  1. Why put sea gulls in they just poop over everything.

  2. Naw they're all cooped up in the bottle and nobodies fed um. They got no poop to poop. Thanks for your comment Bruce.