About Hilke Kurzke

I am Hilke Kurzke the artist working Büchertiger Studio & Press. You can find my website here: http://kurzke.co.uk

West Coast / Irish Sea Dispatches Part 3 – North Wales, Llandudno and Rhos-On-Sea

Llandudno Pier

After having dispatched bottles in Chester on Thursday and Liverpool on Friday, it was time for North Wales on Saturday. At the Breakfast table we had still not quite decided where to go. But it was clear that we’d take the A55, and we’d decide on the spot whether to stop in Colwyn Bay or drive on to Llandudno. And since both kids were still patient when we came close to the first, we made it to the latter.

As you can see in the photo above, the beach close to the pier is of sand. Much of the beaches in North Wales are pebbles, and I suppose that there is some sand there, is what makes Llandudno attrative as a seaside resort. This is what a town looks like, when the Victorians think it makes a good Holiday destination:

Llandudno beach as seen from pier

As you can see now, only part of it is sand, the other half is the more characteristic pebbles. I found the non-existing transition between the two startling, and wonder how natural this beach is. However, the co-existence of both is natural in the area between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno.

As you can also guess from the photo, the weather wasn’t brilliant. We spent a bit of time at the beach and in the sand, went for lunch in one of the thousands of pizza-places and then went back to the pier to drop in the bottles. At that time, the skies looked rather threatening:

rain moving in

Well, and so we made this quick. I had been thinking of booking us on a boat ride around the bay, and drop the bottles from there. But the kids were cold, and none of them wanted to go onto the noisy (if you ask me rather exciting) motor boat ride.
High tide was on that day at 13:13, and it was now 13:50 – perfect timing. I simply went to the head of the pier that to drop them off. Below you see a picture of that pier pulled off Wikipedia:

By Gary Beale – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62435137

On the very front was a small plattform reserved for fishing. After brief deliberation I decided against it, and threw in the bottles from the visitor’s part. These are the bottles I brought:

Llandudno bottles just before their dispatch

The two big ones made by peter, the two little ones made by me. They are a little hard to make out here. The smaller one of Peter’s bottles displayes a clearly readable “Do Not Read. Do Not Open” 🙂 The big one with its characteristic red paint should be clearly visible. Mine are the No. 115 “Underground Pool”, and No. 109 “Lone House”.

M. snapped me while throwing in the first bottle

Without much ado, I simply threw them in as far as I managed to and simply one after the other. Then I watched them float out of the bay.

Bottles starting to float away (just below the middle)

I hope you can make them out, floating there. The big red-striped bottle was the first I threw in. As you can see I got a bit more practise as I went. But then, the big one went into the lead:

The big red one catching up and overtaking my two small ones

On our way back to Ellesmere then, we decided to pull out in Collwyn Bay – which looked like nothing, just a long sand beach with no pier, and I didn’t want to drop in a bottle there, it seemed pointless. But we followed the promenade to Rhos-on-Sea, and while there was not really good opportunity there either, I figured I take my chances and left one other bottle:

Bottle dispatched in Rhos-on-Sea

As you can maybe see in the photo the was in a small little harbour. In the next photo maybe you can see it swimming near the stones:

Rhos-bottle floating

As always, I wish all those bottles save travels and pleased and excited finders. – As I am so slow with updating this blog, already two of those 13 west-coast bottles have already been found. More in the next post.

West Coast/Irish Sea Dispatches Part 2 – Liverpool

Mersey ferry

Mersey Ferry in Liverpool

I mentioned in my previous blogpost that we stopped in Chester on our way to the west coast of Great Britain. We stayed in Ellesmere Port in a Hotel that I can whole-heartedly recommend for their service with children and in terms of accessibility. (I don’t want to turn this into an advertsisement, but if you are interested in travelling into the same direction, I am more than happy to answer a message privately).

The hotel was located directly in between different parts of the canal port, in the more romantic part where narrow boats were mooring. But right behind the house was the entry to these basins, and the rather big canal that is built here right beside the river Mersey  can be seen, and a container port was in range of view. All in all there was a lot of water all around us which I loved.

Obviously I pondered leaving a bottle in some part of this canal. But then I decided against it. Judging from the debris that could be spotted in the water here or there, it was completely still and didn’t move at all. It seemed kind of pointless, especially with all the sea we were going to visit anyway. So no bottles in Ellesmere Port.

The next day, on August 2nd, we made our first day trip to Liverpool.Obviously I took bottles to there – this had been the plan from the start after all. So I had the difficult decision to make, which bottles to take with me. This was the final selection:

Liverpool 01

From left to right: my bottle no. 118, a bottle made by a participant of my recent workshop, Peter’s Wachsecke, and a bottle by Wolf Schindler

Three bottles by others, and just one from me. I felt some pressure to find really good dispatch locations for the bottles I put in for friends, and I figured the Mersey ferry was one of the best for distance. I didn’t know yet whether I’d be able to get on a ship, boat, or bridge where-ever in North Wales I would dispatch the next batch (disorganized as I was, I had not decided yet), and the time for a dispatch was perfect: High tide was at 12:50 pm, and the ferry we booked left the pier at 2.30 pm.

Liverpool 02

waiting for the right moment

Liverpool 03

first bottle to get wet is Vessa’s

I don’t know too much about the contents of this bottle (the adrenalin was running too high while I was giving the workshop, I am afraid, even though she read out the message). But doesn’t it look just wonderful with the plant inclusions she chose?

Liverpool 04

next up is mine

Liverpool 05

a bit closer to the sea it’s Peter’s turn

I rather like Peter‘s bottle: Ahead of the workshop I discussed my ideas and hoped-for-outcomes via email, and I talked about the question of what is art, who it is made for, whether art has to be delivered in a familiar context where you usually find art (for example a gallery) and so on. He responded with a (half) satirical answer in form of this bottle. Maybe he can explain more in the comments if he feels like it. Or maybe it’ll remain for the finder to find out.


and last but not least Wolf’s bottle

This bottle is part of Wolf Schindler’s own message in a bottle project. You can read more about it on his website.  Being closed by a screw-top, we were able to take a look at the contents during the workshop which was very interesting! I have never found a message in a bottle myself, and opening Wolf’s bottle before the dispatch came closest to ever opening one.

Liverpool 08

Safe travels to all of them!



West Coast/Irish Sea Dispatches Part I – Chester

Old Dee Bridge, Chester

Last weekend I made a trip to the West Coast of Great Britain to dispatch the first batch of bottles into the Irish Sea. As you may know, I made a good bunch of bottles over the last weeks and months, and it was time to get them wet. I also met with people in Nottingham to make bottles, and two German writers of messages in bottles sent me messages of their own. – So a very good reason to take the family on a short trip.

On August 1st we stopped in Chester on the way. Chester is one of the really old cities in England, going back to the Roman fort “castrum deva victrix” 79 AD. It is built on the banks of the river Dee. Around Chester it takes some tight turns, and then runs pretty much straight into its estuary. The river is subject to the tides there, and I made sure to drop my bottles in at fairly high tide, but after the highest rise.

Chester Bottles

The next decision to take was, which bottles to throw in. The photo above shows my choice:

The first bottle to hit the waters was one of mine: A Gaivani bottle with a letter written during the workshop, and one of my very short stories inside.

First bottle about to be thrown in.

The twins were more than happy to help with the dispatch.

The second bottle to go in, was also one of mine, the oldest of all of them, one of the first with paper mache houses:

one last look on the second chester bottle

Then it was my daughter’s turn. Next she dropped in one of the bottles made on the workshop by one of the participants. She was so excited, it was hard to get a last photo before it dropped in:

And last but not least, she put in another bottle for me, one that also has one of my stories (a different one) inside:

We saw all of them float downstream, and of course we wish all four of them a safe travel and happy finders!

In total I put 13 bottles into or close to the Irish Sea, these were just the first four. I’ll show you more in the next blogpost.


An evening with Messages and Art in Bottles

Set up at The Carousel in Nottingham

Last Tuesday, on the evening of the 23rd of July, I hosted my first truly public event ever: Art in Bottles, a workshop and discussion evening about messages in bottles. As a reader of this blog, you’ll know that I prepared a bunch of bottles for it, and Peter S. and Wolf Schindler both sent bottles for me to exhibit, show off and talk about on the evening. So I had 18 bottles to show that evening.

We started off with a round of questions: Is it legal? What about the environmental aspect? How to make a good message in a bottle? What to you write on the letter? Who finds it?

Once that was more or less answered, we all set to work. I brought a variety of materials and tools to make messages in bottles, but several had also brought bottles of their own, and a bunch of materials to make stuff, too. And so everyone got busy.

I brought paper, wood, papermache, pencils and colours, beads, bottles, thread – I forgot scissors (there’s always something you forget, isn’t there?) and more

While everyone set to work, I read out some random facts about messages in bottles I had prepared.

  • Did you know that – according to Wikipedia – in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I created an official position of “Uncorker of Ocean Bottles”, and—thinking some bottles might contain secrets from British spies or fleets—decreed that anyone else opening the bottles could face the death penalty.
  • Finding rates vary greatly with where they are dispatched, what their contents are, and how they look like.
  • Hundreds of thousands of messages in bottles were released in various scientific projects to investigate ocean currents.

22 bottles to dispatch now

So now there are 22 bottles sitting in my studio, waiting to be dispatched this summer. There’s not the room to show them off in all detail here in this post, and to do them justice. I figure, I’ll show more of them when they actually get wet. (Btw. Peter, did you want me to test the floatability of one of you bottles before the actual dispatch?)

Dispatches are planned throughout August. Stay tuned for more. You can always check this page here for – sometimes last minute – updates on where I am going to drop some bottles in. But if you would like to meet up, it would be best if you got in touch to let me know, then we can discuss whether and when we can meet up!

Abwurf und Fund in der Ostsee / Dispatch and Landing in the Baltic Sea

Wolf Schindler an Bord der Rollo (1)

I am going to tell you today about the dispatch of three bottles and the immediate finding of one of them. Because all the protagonists are German, I am going to write in German with English translations in between.

Wie der Titel schon sagt, will ich heute von einem Abwurf (und auch gleich einem Fund) in der Ostsee erzählen. – Mal wieder auf deutsch, weil alle Protagonisten Deutsche sind. Aber nun der Reihe nach:

Am 16.6. habe ich hier 10 meiner neuen Fläschchen vorgestellt (in der Zwischenzeit sind noch welche dazu gekommen, aber davon ein andermal). Nur einen Tag später, schrieb mir mein Online-Freund und Flaschenpostkumpane Peter Stein aka James Ismael Kuck, ob ich ihm nicht eine oder mehrere der Fläschchen für einen Abwurf in der Ostsee schicken wolle.

On June 16th I wrote a blogpost here, showing off my newest bottles. Just a day later, a fellow German writer of messages in bottles, Peter Stein, contacted me and asked, whether I might be interested in three of the bottles being dispatched in the Baltic sea.

It just so happened that he was about to meet another creator of messages in bottles, the German artist Wolf Schindler, who was going to go on a sailing boat trip, and he was going to carry and dispatch several bottles – and maybe he could also drop in mine. — Of course I was only too happy to send over three of them:

my bottles Numbered 106, 110, 111 on board the Rollo (1)

Und zwar hatte er vor, sich mit Wolf Schindler zu treffen, einem Künstler (Malerei, überwiegend Acryl auf Leinwand, wenn ich das richtig sehe) aus Weilheim in Oberbayern, weit weg vom Meer. Aber trotzdem ist er ist auch Segler und Flaschenpostler: im Jahr 2000 startete er ein Flaschenpostprojekt, für das über 5 Jahre insgesamt 50 Flaschen abgeworfen wurden. Aber wie so viele, die einmal damit beginnen, scheinen ihn die Flaschenposten nicht mehr loszulassen. Auf seinen Törn Anfang Juli in der Ostsee (Start Kiel), hatte er natürlich auch Flaschenposten dabei. Na, und wenn man sich schon trifft, unter Flaschenpostlern, dann tauscht man auch gerne mal ein oder zwei Flaschen aus, und so hatte Peter für sein Treffen mit Wolf seinerseits was vorbereitet. So nun also die Frage an mich, ob ich nicht Peter was schicken wolle, das er dann mit zu Wolf bringen würde, und er würde sie dann, mit der Crew der Rollo (der Name des Schiffes, interessante Geschichte, die ihr hier nachlesen könnt) dann abwerfen.

all bottles together: the there small ones are mine, the two medium bottles were filled by Peter, and the three tall ones with red marking are Wolf’s (1)

Da konnte ich natürlich nicht “Nein” sagen, und habe gleich drei meiner Fläschchen auf den Weg gebracht. Am 26. Juni erhielt ich Nachricht von Peter, dass sie ihren Postweg heile überstanden haben.

On June 26th Peter contacted me to let me know that he received the bottles well. On the first of July they were handed over to the crew of the Rollo in Kiel:

Crew der Rollo (2)

Am 1. Juli dann wurden sie in Kiel der Crew der Rollo übergeben.

Am 5. Juli erhielt ich dann eine Nachricht per Email:

Hallo Hilke!

I found your bottle today at the „Ostsee“ in Großenbrode nearby Island
The bottle was lying on the Beach!
In the Night was strong North West Wind!

VG, der Finder

Seit dem habe ich nach und nach die Reise der Flasche zusammengebastelt. Weiterer Email-austausch mit dem Finder ergab, dass es sich um Flasche Nr. 111 handelte, die mit dem einzelnen Haus.

Am 12. 7., nachdem Wolf wieder zu Hause war, habe ich von ihm einen “Logbuch-Ausschnitt” zugeschickt bekommen, aus dem hervorgeht, dass die Flasche am 1.7. abgeworfen wurde. Seine Notizen sind ziemlich genau:

auf der Fahrt von KIEL-HOLTENAU nach ECKERNFÖRDE, Einf. Eckernf.- 
Bucht; 18.30 Uhr, Pos. 54°29´N 10°01´E, Wind 5 aus West, Böen 6-7, 
Wolken, Schauer

Das heisst, die Flasche war etwa 4 Tage unterwegs, und hat in der Zeit geschätzt knapp 70km zurückgelegt. Ich hab’ mir (von Peter) sagen lassen, dass das für die Ostsee ein ordentliches Tempo ist – aber anscheinend war ja auch ein ganz schönes Wetterchen!

contents of bottle No. 111 – obviously before sealing the bottle

On 5th of July, before I heard from Wolf when and where my bottles were dispatched, I received message of a finder, who had picked up my bottle No. 111 (the contents shown above) at a beach near Großenbrode in Germany, on the continental land near the island Fehmarn.

On the 12th of July Wolf Schindler sent me the log entries that contain the dispatches of my bottles, and from that it follows that it travelled a little short of 70km in 4 days, which isn’t bad for the Baltic sea.

I wish all the other bottles kind finders and safe travels!

Nun hoffe ich auf weitere Fundmeldungen sowohl von meinen, als auch von ihren Schwesterflaschen!

Flasche Nr. 106 (3 Häuser) am 2.7. auf der Fahrt von Eckernförde nach Marstal, Nähe Damp abgeworfen.

Flasche Nr. 110 (Picknick) wurde am 5.7. auf der Fahrt von Faborg nach Sonderborg abgeworfen.Gute Fahrt, alles Flaschenposten!

the message, tied to the base onto which the little house is then mounted

Ein herzliches Dankeschön an Peter S. und Wolf Schindler, für die Erlaubnis, eure Bilder zu benutzen. (1 Bildrechte Peter S., 2 Bildrechte Wolf Schindler)

Many thanks to Peter S. and Wolf Schindler for allowing me to use their photos. (1 copyright Peter S., 2 copyright Wolf Schindler)

Connecting over Messages in Bottles in Nottingham

Ever felt a bit alone making messages in bottles? Or maybe you played with the idea of making one and never got around to actually do it?

Now is your chance to join me for an evening about art and messages in bottles. On 23rd of Juy we’ll be preparing bottles and share stories about messages in bottles and found art, and I’d love for everyone to come around if they have some interest in the matter! If you are (a bit) further away and need a bed to stay, please get in touch, maybe we can arrange for that.

More details can be found on this event page and there you can also book your place.

I also have other news to tell, of bottles dispatched and a bottle found, but I am at this moment so busy with oranizing stuff, that I am quite frankly a little stretched for time when it comes to writing blog posts. I planning to let you know all about that in the next days!

I hope I’ll see you on Tuesday the 23rd!

New Bottles

Since my last blogpost I made 10 new bottles. Yes, I have been on a kind of spree, making many miniature houses using paper mache, something I work with anyway at the moment. Every time I was working on a batch of paper mache I also formed little geometric shapes, that I later turned into building by painting them – and some to even more complicated structures. See for yourself, here are my new bottles:

message and miniature in bottle no 105

Message in a Bottle No. 105

message and miniature in a bottle

Message in a Bottle No. 106

I am always looking for new ways to integrate my message. Can you spot it for these two? Well, I have to tell you that the first one is hidden in the same way, you can’t actually see it in the photo.

miniature and message in a bottle

message no. 107

miniature and message in a bottle

message in a bottle titled “alien throne”

I titled this bottle “alien throne” – or what do you think this might be? Would you sit on it if you could?

miniature and message in a bottle

message no. 109

miniature and message in a bottle

message no. 110 with a picknick basket with blanket, apple and book

The miniature in message no. 110 is a bit recycled, I have to admit. If you have followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I made a range of different baskets a while ago, and I still had this one. But the lawn is new…

miniature and message in a bottle

message no. 111

Of course I had to keep using the new lawn…

miniature and message in a bottle

message no. 112 – house on a cliff

miniature and message in a bottle

message no. 113 – tall house

miniatures and message in a bottle

message number 114 – abandoned high rise appartment blocks

miniature in bottle

Bottle No. 115 – underground pool

Bottle number 115 is the hardest to show! It has a structure in it, that I cut from a block of papermache with a dremel, and decorated. It is supposed to be an underwater pool… Well, you’ll see more of it if and when it gets found :-). And last but not least:

miniature in bottle

bottle no. 116 – obelisk

I am currently thinking about maybe planning (notice how careful I am here) an event that, if it indeed takes place, will be related to my messages in bottles. And so I want to make even some more, maybe of another type, not necessarily with miniatures in them. But we’ll see.

Later in the summer I am definitely planning a trip to the sea, maybe to the East (Lincolnshire or North Norfolk) or the West (somewhere in Wales or maybe Liverpool), or maybe to all these locations to drop my bottles in.

I am also thinking of maybe sending some of them abroad to be tossed where I have not tossed a bottle before 🙂 If you would like to dispatch one of my bottles, maybe along with one of your own, please get into touch, and we’ll see whether and what we can arrange.