First published: Spring 2015
As a child, I had a night-light that was a box with a scene in it, lit from behind its painted-plastic background. I loved it so much that I had to take it apart to see all the tiny houses and people inside it, only to find it was an illusion. But this love led me to an art form that became a passion – an art form that few know about and even fewer have ever seen.
Jesus Christ Signs the New Testment – Based on True Story – Sequel to the Old Testament, glass bottles with basswood, clay, paint, photo by Clark Woolsey
Objects constructed in bottles are called “bottle whimseys”; to create them, items are placed piece by piece through the neck of a bottle and assembled inside, like a ship in a bottle, though most bottle whimseys do not feature ships. In this folk-art genre, typical objects one might find inside bottles include crucifixion scenes, yarn winders, carved fans and chairs.
The first bottle whimsey dates to the 1700s. The making of these bottles flourished from 1880, when glass bottles became plentiful, through the Great Depression. Most whimsey-makers were self-taught and crafted the tools they used. After World War II, whimsey production declined, and today, very few people still make them. Among those who do is the artist Steve Moseley, who was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1964 and now resides in St Louis, Missouri. Moseley does not consider himself an artist, but rather a model-maker.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #85