Photography by David Lavoie

Building a ship in a bottle is typically accomplished via one of two methods — building the ship outside with hinged masts that are raised using strings once inside the bottle, or the more difficult and time-consuming method of using long-handled tools to build it directly inside.

David Lavoie, who is self-taught, uses a combination of both methods for his illuminated vessels. “I carve and build the ship outside the bottle, then I disassemble it and rebuild it piece by piece inside the bottle,” he says. “The fiber optics, which are bundled at the end of the mast and go through the deck do not allow enough clearance to fully collapse the masts. I’ve been building my ships piece by piece within the bottle.”

The fiber optic light also causes diffuse reflection and scattering, which can transmit in random directions, especially when the fiber is bent or angled. The finished build takes on an eerie, glowing brilliance thanks to the lights and simulated rough seas.

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