About flaschentiger

I am Hilke Kurzke the artist working Büchertiger Studio & Press. You can find my regular blog here: http://blog.buechertiger.de

Bottle No. 104 found!

A day after the dispatch in West Bridgeford, I was contacted by the finder of bottle No. 104.

It didn’t came far when compared to bottles dropped in the ocean, of course, but for a river bottle it didn’t fare too bad, it took two turns of the river after all:

bottle 104 map 01

I dropped the bottle in near the West Bridgeford Centre, and it was found neat the Water Sports Centre

bottle 104 map 02

The way the bottle made is about 4km long.

It was a joy to read that my finder was excited about the find despite its short journey. Apparently he was walking his sister’s dog and spotted something different between the rocks on the river bank.

He didn’t seem to have any difficulties opening the bottle, and the message was still completely dry. But I must say, I would have been disappointed if it didn’t survive a day on the river.

bottle 104 from top

photo provided by the finder and used with his kind permission

It is customary for me to reveal some making of once a bottle gets found, but there’s not much to say about this one that you can’t already see: The “sea” is made from paper mache, and I painted it a bit with acrylics. The paper boat is indeed folded from a tiny piece of paper, and I then sprayed it with acrylic varnish to make it a little more resistant. And then I glued it to the “sea”.

The finder plans to add his own message and drop the bottle in after the next lock. We’ll see whether it travels further next time.

Many thanks to the finder for contacting me about the bottle. It is always so uplifing when I hear one of them gets found! This was the first of five bottles that I dropped into the river Trent of which I heard back. As some of my readers will know, I had already almost given up on the river. But maybe I’ll give it another go. For now:

Happy second leg of your travel, little paper boat!

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Dispatch of Bottle No. 104 in a Happy Splash

Looking downstream onto the Trent Bridge from the footbridge that we used to drop our bottles into the river Trent

Jet Propelled, a friend and fellow artist from Beeston, near Nottingham recently brought me into (online) contact with another woman, a German who lives in West Bridgeford and misses the German language. We ended up discussing about meeting up, and she invited me and Jet for cake and tea. Since it turned out she lives in walking distance to the Trent a plan to dispatch some bottles formed…

We were lucky with the weather: After days of snowy April weather, the skies were clear on Friday 5th here in Nottingham. The wind blew in breezy bursts and made it feel rather chilly, but the sun came out and played beautifully with the gentle waves, turning the river into a street of silver and gold. At least from where we sat and assembled some bottles.

Bottles gathering on our bench

I always enjoy to have company when dropping off bottles!I brought two filled and sealed bottles with me: My bottle No. 104 with a little folded paper boat in it, and Peter’s bottle No. – ack! I don’t remember its number; the number is bound to be close to mine. He sent it to me when I was setting off to drop some bottles into the river Don in Sheffield, where both our bottles numbered 100 hit the waters (read more about that dop off here).

Bottle No. 104 “Paper Boat”

Ursula hadn’t prepared anything, but was eager to also have a go. Jet brought her own bottle but had not sealed hers yet. And while they were making their bottles ready, I also made another one on the spot.
And so we sat and wrote and assembled…

Jet assembling her bottle

My trusty Zippo had just run out of fuel, and thus sealing the bottles with sealing wax turned out frustratingly difficult.  We sat at the bridge head, crouching and shielding the flame in a joint effort. I managed to melt and scrape some sealing wax onto my bottle, but then we decided to give up. I am fairly sure that they are all closed well, the wax had been more decorative than anything, I suppose.

trying to melt sealing wax klein

Then we decided to drop the bottles off a suspension bridge a little upstream from Trent Bridge after all. This one is only open to pedestrians while Trent Bridge has heavy traffic.

Bottles getting ready

And so, after about an hour of walking and assembling, one bottle after the other went over the fairly high railing on the bridge. I made a start with my little paper boat bottle:

Yours truely throwing in the first bottle

Next it was Jet’s turn. she had filled her bottle with a piece of driftwood, decorated with pink ribbons, brass wire, some other little tokens including found text, and of course with a letter inside:

Jet throwing in her bottle, titled “53” after the number appeared on the found text she collaged onto the wood

Next, I put in Peter’s bottle. Isn’t the bottle itself so very beautiful as the sun came out to bid it farewell. I hope whoever finds it will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed having it in my studio for a couple of months:

Peter’s bottle getting ready

Unfortuntately my new German friend was so quick to drop in hers that I didn’t manage to capture her with the camera.

And then I was up again: My riverside bottle contained a good handful of lucky stars, a little touchstone, and one of the most personal letters I have written so far. I didn’t give this one a number, as it wasn’t meant to be part of the series, or at least not necessarily.

getting ready, and….

gone

As always, I keep  my fingers crossed for a good voyage and gentle finders.

New Bottles and Planned Drop Off Trent Bridge

Trent Bridge in Nottingham

I have dropped off a couple of bottles from Trent Bridge before, five, if my records are correct, and I never heard back from a single one. That’s why I have been hesitant to drop in more, although I just love that Bridge.

But coming Friday, I am going to give it another go.

Peter’s Bottle along with my three unsealed ones

From the Sheffield Drop Offs (Blog post part 1, part 2, part 3) I still have one of Peter‘s bottle waiting to be put into a body of water. Now that spring is filling England’s rivers, it seems like a good time to part with it.

I didn’t have any of my own left over, so I made a couple new ones this past week.

close-up of the teeny tiny houses I am going to put in the bottles

In my main part of work, I started to use paper mache more, and as usual, my messages in bottles reflect that.

I don’t think I’ll put all the bottles in, possible just one of them. – And that then would be the one with the folded paper boat. The letter in the bottle, btw, is suspended from the cork that will seal the bottle as to not disturb the scene inside. I hope the construction will survive!

More, once the bottles are sealed and on their way.

Sheffield Drop Offs – Part 3

As you probably know by now I spent last week in Sheffield, mainly to work on my writing, but also with the aim to drop off a couple of bottles.

I wrote about my preparation in a first part here. There I showed you the four bottles I prepared, the four bottles that Peter sent me to dispatch for him, and I also mentioned that I packed two empty bottles for possible by-standers to fill.

In the second part I spoke about arriving in Sheffield and discovering that the Don where I put my bottles is full of little islands, had little water and current and in addition a lot of weirs. I dropped in both bottles nonetheless, and was able to observe Peter’s bottle getting stuck pretty much immediately, so probably now you want to know what happened next with it.

Peter’s Bottle No. 100

On the top of the blog you can see how I left Peter’s No. 100 behind on Tuesday the 9th. The place was just a 10 minute walk from my hotel, so the plan was of course to check the next day whether it was still there.

I was extremely lucky with the weather: The 10th was sunny and warm and felt more like a September than like an October day. When I came to the place at around noon, I was first pleased to see that the bottle was gone and apparently had moved on:

Sheffield 14

Nothing to see – Yay!

The whole board against which the bottle was resting moved a few meters along the river (I think that old christmas tree in there remained stationary, so you can compare with that), and in the process it obviously gave the bottle free.
I continued to walk along the river (I had more bottles to dispatch after all, but more about that later) and spotted the bottle again, only 20 or 30m further downstream.

I believe you can click on the images to see them in enlarged (I hope so), in the second image I placed arrows where the bottle got stuck on the first and the second day. Of course I had to check again on my way back. The bottle had made a few more meters further downstream where it rested again with some other junk but still above the foot bridge located there.

The forecast for the next day (11th) predicted a day with showers moving through. I woke up to skies that looked somewhat threatening, and so I started early while it was still dry. The wind was blowing in gusts, but no rain. I first walked to the spot I last saw Peter’s bottle. It had moved again a couple of meters. I could see it moving very slowly, and then getting stuck once more between some floating grass and other plant material.
In the photo below just a little upstream of this cut through in the wall, that’s where I last spotted it. (The photo was taken a day earlier for the stone under the bridge, but that’s a story of its own. Anyway, that’s why the bottle can’t be seen in the photo.)

Sheffield 17
As I said, that was the last time I saw it. I went to look for it again the same day, just a couple of hours later, and I was unable to see it anywhere. Which is somewhat of a mystery to me: Given the slow manner with which it was moving I can’t understand how it could have disappeared out of sight in just a few hours. The river downstream from there looked like it had fewer hurdles, but still, it was moving at no more than half a meter per second so how far could it go? It was floating on the right hand bank which has a tall wall as its border… But who knows, maybe someone has found it already. – I hope we’ll hear from it again.

 Other drop ins

This blog post is again getting very long, and I’ll try to cut me short. As mentioned before, the weather on the 10th was wonderful, and I walked slowly down the Don, putting in two bottles from the spider bridge,  visible in the photo above if you know what to look out for, and then I sat down and filled one of the empty bottles I brought with me. I had not arranged any meet-up, no-one I saw on my hike seemed interested, and so I just ripped a few pages from my notebook and filled them with a message on the spot. I didn’t give this bottle a number, as I don’t really regard it as part of this project. Well, maybe a little.
Below are photos taken on the 10th. If you click on them, you’ll be able to read some further comments on them if you like.

The next day, the 11th, I went out in the morning to first look for Peter’s bottle and while doing so, I spotted the entrance to Victoria Quays. So I decided to take a walk along the canal for a change. Because I had already spent the better of the day before hiking along the river I cut my visit relatively short and dropped my bottle just behind the entrance to the Quays. I wasn’t sure how Peter would feel about his bottle being put in a non-flowing body of water, and besides: it smelled awfully beneath the bridge where I placed it. For a bottle containing miniature kidney bowls seemed fitting but  beautiful bottle like Peter’s? – That felt just wrong. And so I held on to that one for a while longer.

The weather stayed surprisingly nice and dry that day, and for unknown reasons I struggled to get any good work done sitting in my hotel room. And so I decided to walk to the Don once more in the afternoon. I probably should have walked upstream for a change. But I was too curious to see whether and which of the dropped off bottles I might spot. Because I didn’t feel like dropping a bottle from a bridge where I already had been, I walked further than before, right into a nature reserve that made it almost feel like I had left the city. There I dropped then my last bottle, the No. 103 into the Don, and Peter’s 102.

On my walk to there I spotted two of my bottles: the unnumbered one above the weir at Norfolk bridge where I dropped it in, and one of my small bottles below the weir. I am not sure which of the two it was as the sun was reflecting so much that it was hard to see what was inside, but looking at the photos now, I am pretty sure it was the 102 that I put in from spider bridge the day before.

While walking along the river, the canal and through the city I made many more pictures with little and big things I spotted, street art and loving little details, imagining showing them to you. But my report is taking way too much time and space already, and I don’t want to bore anyone. Many thanks for your interest, dear reader, who has read until here. I’ll just let that guy below that I spotted on one of my excursion wave you good bye.

Like always, I wish all my bottles a good and far travel and happy finders.  – Next up will be the dispatch of Peter’s bottle No. 103 from Trent Bridge in West Bridgeford. Stay Tuned!

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Sheffield: Part 2 – Day 1, Twice the No. 100

From 9th – 12th October I spent a couple of days in Sheffield. They were my personal writer’s retreat: I booked myself into a hotel and spent my days there to write. BUT of course I carried a couple of bottles to dispatch, too. I had a really good time, with walks along the river and canal, discovering little and big things on my excursions, with new ideas and trying marmite for the first time – and got a lot of writing done.

Unfortunately because I was writing anyway, I failed to write here on this blog while things were happening, which I now realise was a mistake: Packing everything I want to tell and show you into one big blogpost is just too much. So I decided to split it into three (or maybe it will turn out four) parts. You can find the first part here, in which I show you a bit behind the scenes bottle making.

Here’s a map of the dispatches, as some kind of preview for those who are just too curious just now (and also in case a bottle is being found already). You’ll notice that there are three kinds of markers in there: the blue ones are where I dropped off my bottles, the red ones are sightings, and the green ones are where I dropped off Peter’s bottles.

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Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

Day 1 – Upper Don Walk

I arrived in Sheffield later than expected on Tuesday, due to a derailed train at Sheffield train station. I had planned to first visit the river and then check in, but now I decided to first go to the hotel. Which turned out to be a good decision since Sheffield is much more hilly than expected, and with that I mean steap streets, steep, – mountaineous! Well, maybe it wasn’t quite as bad, but the constant sloping makes walking with a pull along suitcase full of books and paper (I was there to write after all) a bit of a hassle. Wikipedia agrees that my feeling that Sheffield is exceptionally steep is justified:

Sheffield is a geographically diverse city. The city nestles in the eastern foothills of the Pennines, and a natural amphitheatre created by several hills and the confluence of five rivers: Don, Sheaf, Rivelin, Loxley and Porter. As such, much of the city is built on hillsides with views into the city centre or out to the countryside. Blake Street, in the S6 postcode area, is the third steepest residential street in England, with a gradient of 16.6°. The city’s lowest point is just 29 metres (95 ft) above sea level near Blackburn Meadows, while some parts of the city are at over 500 metres (1,640 ft); the highest point being 548 metres (1,798 ft) at High Stones, near Margery Hill. However, 79% of the housing in the city is between 100 and 200 metres (330 and 660 ft) above sea level.

Well, I arrived on a lovely sunny and warm autumn day, and right after checking in to my hotel, I packed my backpack with some bottles, and started to walk to find the river Don. When I came closer to Lady’s Bridge (the oldest bridge in Sheffield), I discovered this:

sheffield 12

Well, if that’s not inviting, then I don’t know what is. I went through the arch and immediately reached the Don:

sheffield day 1-1

When you look in the photo with the arch above, you’ll see that the path through the arch brought me onto a foot path along the river. From the entrance it looks like you could walk up or downstream, however the downstream path was blocked by a building next to Lady’s Bridge. The photo right above here shows the view looking left, upstream, onto the bridge from where I would shortly after dispatch my first bottle in Sheffield. Looking to the right revealed the sight of the Lady’s Bridge as you can see it in the photo further above.

I followed the path upstream and crossed the next bridge, the foot bridge you can see in the photo above, and then the walk continued on the other bank. Without much hesitation I decided to throw in my first botte, the 100th message in a bottle in this project:

dispatch no 100 kleiner

The view from the bridge, a last look at the bottle, and then the farewell

My bottle drew the attention of some ducks which, although they seemed disappointed that the object that had fallen from the bridge didn’t seem edible, swam around and with it. Lazily the bottle bobbed in the water and moved very slowly. It was easy to cross the bridge, and then follow it on the Upper Don Walk until I reached came closer to the Lady’s Bridge and had to walk around a building which meant I briefly lost sight of the bottle. Up on the bridge I expected to see it again. I wanted to check whether it made it down the weir. But the glaring sun and its many reflections on the water made it hard to spot the little bottle. I have a series of photos which I shot in the believe they had the bottle on it. But upon close inspection on my computer, it looks just like waves and leaves and stones.

sheffield day 1-2

Upstream view of the Don from Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

I mentioned before, that I was carrying not only my 4 bottles to Nottingham, but also Peter‘s. And as fate would have it, his bottles carry the same serial numbers as mine did. So I had another No. 100 in my backpack that wanted to be set free.
According to his blogpost he had read up on the river Don and knew to expect weirs. I was blissfully unaware of them until I saw them. I had dropped in mine without hesitation, but seeing its slow trundle along the lazy river, and also because it was rather big, I figured I’d rather drop it in from lady’s bridge, below the weir.

But, upon crossing the street and looking down the bridge, I had to realise that there was a little island just behind the bridge, blocking the free flow of the river.

sheffield day 1-3

Lady’s Bridge from below the weir

I later learned, that these islands in the Don are due to the weirs. The rushing water washes up sediment, and with the water quality rising in the river, they are home to wildlife and are cherished and cared for.

Just downstream of Lady’s Bridge, the Upper Don Walk ends, and the Five Weir Walk starts. Ah, well, so there were more weirs to be expected.
From where I stood I could see the next bridge, and hoped to find a better place there to dispatch Peter’s centennial bottle. No such luck: Another island was waiting for it there. By that time, however, I was beginning to feel eager to return to me “real” work, and figured, I’d have more time tomorrow to explore more of the river, and after all, I had six more bottles to dispatch. So in it went. I took great care to find the best spot where the bottle would hopefully avoid the island. I watched it float downstream, happy that I seemed to have chosen well:

peters 100 kleiner

It went swiftly past the island, but then floated toward the right – and got stuck on a piece of driftwood. I watched it struggle for a while. The current and gusts of strong wind seemed to help it move on – almost. After a couple of minutes I gave up for the day, determined to come back the next day.

 

Sheffield – Part 1: Preparations

From 9th – 12th October I spent a couple of days in Sheffield. They were my personal writer’s retreat: I booked myself into a hotel and spent my days there to write. BUT of course I carried a couple of bottles to dispatch there. I had a really good time, with walks along the river and canal, discovering little and big things on my excursions, with new ideas and trying marmite for the first time – and got a lot of writing done.

Unfortunately because I was writing anyway, I failed to write here on this blog while things were happening, which I now realise was a mistake: Packing everything I want to tell and show you into one big blogpost is just too much. So I’ll split it into two or three parts and will publish them over the next couple of days. I hope you’ll enjoy them and stick with me!

Here’s a map of the dispatches, as some kind of preview for those who are just too curious just now (and also in case a bottle is being found already). You’ll see this map again in future posts. You’ll notice that there are three kinds of markers in there: the blue ones are where I dropped off my bottles, the red ones are sightings, and the green ones are where I dropped off Peter’s bottles.

Preparations – The Bottles

sheffield blog -2

From left to right bottles numbered 102, 100, 103, 101

When I announced on facebook, and shortly after here on this blog, that I would be dispatching bottles in Sheffield, I had made 99 bottles to date, and all had been set free, none was with me in my studio to take along with me. That was because I was slightly haunted by the idea that bottle No. 100 should be somehow special, and thus had postponed actually making one for a while.

The reason why I booked my stay in Sheffield was that I was (and am) awfully clogged with work at the moment. I have so much work to do, I find no time to work! (It sounds funny but it really isn’t. I will have to seriously think about how to solve the problem, but that’s a different story.) So maybe it’s no surprise that for a good while I didn’t do anything about the lack of bottles.

Then James Ismael Kuck, also known online as Peter S. or Peter Stein send me a message, asking whether he could send me some bottles for the Sheffield dispatch. “Sure”, was my answer, “it will be a pleasure!” And I was delighted that anyone had taken notice in my plans and was happy to participate. And it put the necessary pressure on to really get going and make some bottles. (If you don’t know his blog, click on the link, and you’ll find a wonderful mix of stories about messages and bottles, ocean currents, and people who collect or make messages in bottles; most of the posts are in German but a fair bit have English summaries or translations.)

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First steps in making a rounded bathroom sink and cabinet

There are two major things I try to continuously improve for my bottles, and have not found a universal (i.e. the best) solution for: a) where and how to place my actual message and b) how to best make use of the little space I have in the bottle.

To this end, I decided to try and make a curved piece of furniture this time. I first put some polymer clay into a bottle and baked it inside. Then I took it out, it kept its shape, so that I had a bit of “wall” to work with for my model. Of course the opening on top is smaller than the curve on the inside, but I thought I took care of that and set to work. Unfortunately it turned out that the cabinet was few millimeters too wide to fit in. – I had forgotten to take the thickness of the board properly into account.

sheffield blog -5

Doesn’t fit in by a fraction of a millimeter

So I started over and made a second cabinet, just a bit smaller.

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New cabinet at the bottom is a little bit smaller

It turned out that with just a millimeter smaller, it was really hard to fit the sink in, for which I used piece of a blister pack that did not magically shrink a bit just by my willing it to. But I managed somehow, painted it, put on some decorative paper, and added a few details:

sheffield blog -7

Front view of cabinet with a sink, a toothbrush, a cup and some toilet paper at the bottom

Below is another view of it, from the back: By puttin some paper over the back, I am hiding that I had to score the board to make it fit as a round. The photo also has a matchstick (and the old cabinet) in it for size comparison. Also, the grid on my worktable is a 10mm grid.

sheffield blog -8

cabinet from top/back.

With so much work poured into that bottle, I decided that this had to be my number 100, and it is the bottle for which I wrote the accompaning letter (to be rolled up and placed beside the toilet paper) first. But I actually started the bottle No. 101 with the disinfectant bottle first.

Well, you can see by now that I have a bathroom / hospital / sanitary thing going with these bottles. That’s because I am still in the finishing steps for my artist book “346” involved. But that, too, is another story to be told at a different time and place.

closure

pencil loop closure work like this: There are two loops attached to the front over of the book, and one in the middle between the two on the back cover flap. You close the book, and the loops line up, then you push a pencil through and they all stay in place. Pull the pencil out, and you can open the book – and you have a pencil ready to write, too!

I then tought, it was time to make a miniature book again for a bottle. And I was going to pay more attention to the closure (of the book) this time. So I managed to make a teeny tiny pencil loop closure. I explained what that is above as a caption to the image. Obviously, with a book as tiny as this, I can’t put in an ordinary pencil. Instead this is a tapered and clipped toothpick, with some black painted on. I experimented with making it a real pencil that would write, but didn’t really like the result. You can see the real pencil in the picture below.

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The book is filled with images and text on (almost) all pages

I then put the book on what I thought could look like a hospital blanket and pillow, but probably it doesn’t, and put all this onto a hollow pedestal into which I put the accompaning letter. Unfortunately, as you can see in the group image above and maybe below, that placed the book and miniature scene rather close to the cork.

sheffield blog -11

Book on its bed, ready to go in the bottle

At that point I had spent the better of two days on making the bottles. I was waiting for 4 bottles from Peter, one for each day I’d spend in Sheffield. So I made the last one rather quickly, I must admit, and filled it with miniature kidney bowls.

Peter’s bottles reached me just in time the afternoon before I left. Below is the array of bottles I packed, including two empty ones for bystanders to make their own. – I am always hoping someone might join me, but unfortunately this rarely happens. More about that in my next blogpost about my Sheffield dispatches!
sheffield blog -10

Found in the River Thames

going on shout

On Wednesday, 12th September 2018 I received a short Email with the following content:

“hi , while operating a rescue boat we came across this message in a bottle . we were in the area of the river Thames in the Richmond area .

attached are the images of the message and bottle.”

And indeed with this message several images reached me. The one above, obviously showing the crew of the rescue boat, and this image of the bottle itself:

20180825_171416

Now this image clearly identifies this as bottle number 86 which my daughter released into the river Thames in London almost exactly 17 months earlier. Uncharacteristically, it was indeed dispatched in a big bottle like this. I am delighted and a bit surprised that everything seems to be completely dry.

I remember making this bottles somewhat hastily: We were going to stay in London for a couple of days, and I didn’t have (enough) bottles ready to take with me. This print, on the other hand, was already in my stash of things to maybe put into a bottle. It turned out a little too big to fit into my tiny bottles, thought, and thus I took one of the lemonade bottles that I am already stashing for when my milk bottles run out.

Initially I thought, that this must be a secondary bottle. Assuming that someone else had found the bottle first, rebottles and resealed it, and then released it once again. That would explain why it was still completely dry. And also the bottle and cork seemed unfamiliar to me at first. I tried to contact the finders and ask them about any signs of another finder, but never received an answer to my emails. (Which is the reason, by the way, why this article comes so late.)

But while writing this, and comparing images once again, I begin to think that probably, this is the original bottle after all, and the cork just looks different because the wax came off. Probably, however, it was just the finders removing it. I don’t clearly remember but it looks in the dispatch photo, like I tied down the cork and then covered it in sealing wax. That must have formed a good seal after all.

London bottle 86

In the 17 months the bottle was afloat, it didn’t come awfully far: about 15 km. But it made its way along several turns, and maybe more than once, as the river in that part is tidal. The area where it was found has several islands, too. But I don’t know whether it was found tangled in woods or other things, or freely floating in the river, or maybe washed ashore somewhere.

This latest found raises the percentage of bottles found in the river Thames to 100% (2 dispatched, 2 found).