Jim Dingilian’s incredible bottle art is much more complex than the traditional building of ships inside of bottles. The detailed scenes trapped inside recycled glass bottles are made with just candle smoke. The artist burns the inside, then carefully etches away the residue, revealing imagery of trees, cars, and industrial landscapes within the confines of each bottle.
To create the scenes, Dingilian collects empty liquor bottles of varying size, shape and color. He finds the bottles just about anywhere, by the side of the road, in trash cans, or littered in parking lots. Dingilian sees each discarded bottle as an “artifact of consumption, delight, or dread,” a theme which also carries into his imagery. Detailed tableaus of these places can be found in his pieces. He often shows scenes of overgrown yards, burned out cars under bridges, or other places of desolation on the fringes of suburbia, that can be associated with the bottles’ past lives.
The make the dark renderings, the artist lights a candle, and lets the flame burn the inside of the bottle, coating it with a layer of smokey soot. The scenes are then slowing etched away by using the subtractive process of removing black to reveal white (or clear glass). With an unbelievably steady hand, Dingilian slowly brushes the soot away with a tiny paint brush attached to a dowel rod, that he suspends into the center of the bottle. By using different pressure, and incredible wrist control, the soft layers are pulled away, leaving the dark ash as the “positive” of the scenes inside.
Dingilian’s bottles are like artistic hourglasses, capturing a moment in time within their confines. His work can be seen in galleries across the Unites States, as well as the Museum of Art and Design in New York.
Images © Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat