So for the last week or so I’ve been obsessing over the idea of sending messages in bottles. In the coming weeks you’ll see the full extent of my obsession and the reasons why I love these little floaters so.
But to day is not about the ‘why’, it’s about the ‘how’! So here is a very simple tutorial on how to make a message in a bottle for basically no money. A wonderful way to spend a rainy recession day in.
What you need:
- Paper (Medium weight)
- Traditional White Wine bottle (cork stopped)
- Thin circular shoelace or string
- Teabags (Tetley’s preferred, but any kind of English breakfast tea should be fine)
- Brown rice
- Pretty shells (Optional)
Estimated time: 30 minutes
Write a letter and print it off. Be creative. Think about the context of message in a bottle, or perhaps you just want to tell someone special that you think they’re lovely and that you want to jump their bones. Either is fine.
You should choose a great font. I mean, you could handwrite it but let’s be frank, your handwriting is probably terrible. We don’t get calligraphy training at school anymore, and since we’re artificially aging paper to make it look old, that bubble writing you learned to do when you were thirteen years old is going to stand out like a dildo in a cake shop. So choose a nice font. I’m a sucker for A Song for Jennifer. This is similar to the fonts used on newspapers about seventy years ago. Perfect for this kind of thing.
Column your text and print it landscape. It fits better in the bottle this way.
Crumple your letter into a ball like it’s a piece of shit and you hate yourself for ever thinking that it was any good, and then flatten it back out like a coward, unsure of his own ability to judge his own material.
Stick a really strong brew on. Like six teabags. This will make the tea dye very dark. If you only want to slightly age it, less teabags. Or more water. Compromise is all around us.
Skin your wine bottle. Chardonnay, fuckin’ Pinot Grigio, Riesling, doesn’t matter, just get rid of it’s identity entirely. You can just dip it in hot water and peel the label. Or you can use a peeler if you’re the sort of person that likes unnecessary challenges.
Plug your wine bottle with toilet paper and turn it upside down to absorb the moisture. After a few minutes the toilet paper should be damp.
Remove it and put some rice inside the bottle. Aesthetically it looks like your message has bobbed its way from Sri Lanka. Stick some saffron and chewing tobacco spit in there too to make it look really authentic. But the rice is predominantly in there to absorb any residual moisture left in the bottle.
Take a teabag (Careful now!) and rub it on your crumpled letter. Teabag your letter. This will give it texture. Do both sides.
Pour a little tea over the page. Just a splash. Gently pick up the paper and turn it over to get the other side equally wet.
Stick the paper in the over at 250F until crispy.
Have yourself a brew and listen to this.
Check your paper. Do it carefully because this stuff is hotter than balls. Turn it over. Use a spatula if necessary. The paper rips easily.
If she’s good, get her out.
When the paper is dry, remove it and roll it up. In order to get it into the wine bottle you have to roll it really tight. Warning: You’re going to rip the paper a little because it’s brittle like an old man’s shin bone. Try to get it rolled as tightly as possible (joint rolling experience is certainly beneficial) and tie it tight with your string.
Slide it into the bottle and jam the cork in, keeping the paper hanging in the bottle.
Optional Finishing Touch:
Throw a scrap of teabagged paper into the oven with your paper. Stamp it with a Staples stamp.
Or you can get a few of your favorite shells and drop them into the bottle to give it that nautical theme. Or just stuff some tuna in there if it’s a letter of spite.
And you’re done. Go find a body of water to launch it into and help litter the oceans! Or just give it to someone.
* Special props got to the people at WikiHow that taught me how to age paper. Check out their site for a more detailed method. *
Enjoy your weekend!
Lots of love,