Saturday, May 24, 2014

20 Questions with Heather Gabrielle Rogers

Time for another round for 20 Questions.  This time I will be featuring Heather Gabrielle Rogers.  First let me apologize sine Heather sent this to me almost a year ago and I'm just now posting it.  Life got a little busy for me.  I am very happy however, that she chose to fill out my questionnaire.  Her work is incredible and she has a way of adding a great sense of realism and emotion to her ships in bottle's.  I highly recommend you visit her website to see more.     

1.  What is your name? 

      Heather Gabrielle Rogers

2.  Where in general are you from?  

I grew up in Mathews, Virginia, which is right on the Chesapeake Bay.  I lived on a boat for a couple years and now I’m enjoying Switzerland.

3.  How long have you been building ships in bottles? 

I have been building ships in bottles for nearly 4 years now….but it seems I started just recently.  I guess each SIB I build is like starting something completely new, filled with different problems to solve and challenges for myself.

4.  What got you into ship in bottle building? 

I saw I man demonstrating the art in Beaufort Maritime Museum in North Carolina.  I needed a craft that took up a small amount of space because, at the time, I lived on a sailboat.  So, after seeing the demonstration, I decided to try….it worked out well.

5.  What was the first ship in bottle you ever built?

A New England Coastal Schooner

6.  What was your favorite build?

Oh that’s not a fare question! I have enjoyed most everyone I have built. It would probably be easier to answer ‘what was my least favorite build.’ Okay I have one favorite… the “Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip” Bottle.

7. What do you think makes your ships in bottles unique?

My ships in bottles are incredibly detailed and are completely hand made in every way.  But what sets them apart from others is that, I try to build a model that is accurate and to scale, but still has an active life within the bottle (unlike the large static models).  I try to capture movement, emotions, a reality of the relationship between the sea and a ship.  And most importantly, put it all together in the proper bottle that suits the overall ship and atmosphere I am trying to capture.  In the end it must be a complete composition where all the pieces are in harmony with one another.

8. What types of ships do you prefer?

I like the classic yachts the most, the beautiful and slick boats, with nicely curved bows and slender sterns that rise out of the water.  You realize once you begin to carve them that, they just begin to appear from the block of wood, and you can understand exactly how they were designed in the past.  Add a wooden mast, a gaffed rig, with full sail, and I think you may have one of the most naturally beautiful sights that have graced our waters.

9.  What is your favorite part of ship in bottle building?

My favorite part is the challenge of coming up with new ways of creating all the details of the ship.  I avoid looking into books too much, because that takes the fun and ingenuity out of it.  

10.  Is there a design or method that you use that you are particularly proud of?

I’m proud that I have tried lots of different methods, but one thing that does set my SIBs apart from others, is the look of the ocean I create.  The overall color, surface appearance, and stability of the plumber’s putty, mixed with oil paints, allows me to create a very realistic sea composition.  I’ve experienced lots of different seas while cruising on our sailboat inshore and offshore.  The sea is normally never bright royal blue, but everything from a beautiful turquoise, dark rich blues, to even greenish brown muddy colors.  Sailing showed me that sometimes waves break, some roll and have large distances in between them, sometimes there are huge amounts of foam, they can be short and choppy, or nearly standing upright in places where current is contrary to wind.  The sea is actually the hardest thing to capture inside of a bottle.
Here’s a Chesapeake Bay scene on a day when the water looks a bit greenish grey.  There are short choppy waves that are irregular, and white caps…a typical 15-20 knot, windy day.

11.  Have you had any instances where a build went horribly wrong?  

Horribly wrong, as in a total loss…no, but I have had lots of things break when under construction and when being inserted into the bottle, masts, bowsprits, lines, shrouds…you name it.  I’ve yet to smash one with my fist, although it’s come close.

12. What are some of your favorite materials to use?

Basswood, is great for carving, making veneers, and small details.  I also like to take tiny watch parts and use them to mimic parts of the ship: a watch gear turns into the wheel, watch hands are used for chainplates and turnbuckles, washers can be used as blocks, etc… 

13. What are some of the most unusual materials you’ve used in a build?

I don’t know…everything has a purpose, so I might not think of it as unusual.

14. What creative tools have you created?

My tool building is pretty limited to mostly wire coat hangers bent to suit. I guess I don’t excel there because I haven’t needed anything very special…I don’t even have a special stand to work on my SIBs like most do. In the end I spend all my time focusing on building the model.

15. What books do you recommend for ship in bottle building?

We all like to recommend Don Hubbard’s…it is a great starter book, but in reality, any books on ship in bottle building can get you started.  For me the most important books are those that keep you going, inspiring you.  I like Gerard Aubry’s book “Marines en Bouteille”, or Peter Hille and Barry Young’s book “Ship Models in Glass.”  Books that aren’t just written to be created, but to share a passion and creativity that an author has in his/her craft…those books are inspiring.

16. What is the most interesting bottle you have found?

The most interesting bottles are always the chemist’s bottles, they can be round, conical, large, tiny, balloon shaped, etc … and they are made of pyrex, which seems very durable, heat resistant, and most of the time quite clear.

17.  What’s the most unique place or way you have found a bottle?

I once saw a large wine shaped, green tinted bottle from afar at a flea market.  I could tell it was clear and just right…a special find, and I was smiling ear to ear as I approached it.  I didn’t notice until I literally picked it up out of the box, that it was a bottle that had been cut in half, vertically, down the middle…you can only imagine my surprise and dismay. I still bought it and want to put a half hull model inside!

18. What is your favorite response to the question, “How did you get it in there?”

I hired a group of tiny fairies, they work at night, I pay them in popcorn, everyone’s happy.  No, really I don’t like answering that question, so I make a poster with pictures when I am at an event and generally point to it with little explanation, otherwise I feel like a broken record.  Having visual information helps people to understand more so than an explanation.

19. What ships are on your to do list?

Pride of Baltimore racing against the Schooner Virginia, Monitor and Merrimack Battle, another Jaws scene, the Martha White (Bluenose type schooner), and I've been thinking about doing more movie scenes and other schooners.

20. What are you currently working on?

I am building a second Jaws Scene in Bottle, while working on the Pride of Baltimore and Schooner Virginia.  Here’s the first Jaws Scene: 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


I recently completed a ship called the Mercury.  This was a fun little build for some pirate reenacters.  The draughts were drawn by William Brand a graphic designer. The full write up and details on how she was built can be found here.

If your into pirates or medical practices at sea this website by Raphael Mission is top notch.  There's a lot of interesting and well researched articles.  Enjoy.