A message in a bottle

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Following advice from our consultant conservator, Jessie spent half an hour carefully easing out the  cork (all the while worrying the cork would snap off!). Photo: K. Bone.
Following advice from our consultant conservator, Jessie spent half an hour carefully easing out the cork (all the while worrying the cork would snap off!). Photo: K. Bone.

Look! Kirsa found a message in a bottle under a house. Here's how we got the message out.

Easy does it: slowly pulling out the cork. Photo: K. Bone.
Easy does it: slowly pulling out the cork. Photo: K. Bone.
Next step: getting the message out. Kirsa is carefully holding the bottle while Jessie uses the tweezers. Photo: K. Bone.
Next step: getting the message out. Kirsa is carefully holding the bottle while Jessie uses the tweezers. Photo: K. Bone.
Tantalisingly close! Photo: K. Bone.
Tantalisingly close! Photo: K. Bone.
Special equipment: Jessie & Kirsa couldn't get the message out, so Sasha (our conservator) made some special tweezers. Here's how Sasha described her tweezers: "They're made of coat hanger wire with tips doubled over and beaten flat, covered in shrink tubing for smooth grippy surface.  The photo Jessie sent me of the message half tweezed out of the bottle was the first attempt using shorter, gentler tweezers, producing a cone shape which would have wedged in the neck.  To pull it out safely maintaining the diameter at less than the bottle neck, I needed to grab the paper at the lower inner corner and coil inwards.  It was tricky spreading the grippy tweezers either side of the paper while lowering into the bottle, which was why I gave the shorter tweezers a try first before committing and steeling myself for the job at hand." Photo: S. Stollman.
Special equipment: Jessie & Kirsa couldn't get the message out, so Sasha (our conservator) made some special tweezers. Here's how Sasha described her tweezers: "They're made of coat hanger wire with tips doubled over and beaten flat, covered in shrink tubing for smooth grippy surface. The photo Jessie sent me of the message half tweezed out of the bottle was the first attempt using shorter, gentler tweezers, producing a cone shape which would have wedged in the neck. To pull it out safely maintaining the diameter at less than the bottle neck, I needed to grab the paper at the lower inner corner and coil inwards. It was tricky spreading the grippy tweezers either side of the paper while lowering into the bottle, which was why I gave the shorter tweezers a try first before committing and steeling myself for the job at hand." Photo: S. Stollman.
Sasha makes a start on extracting the message. Photo: J. Garland.
Sasha makes a start on extracting the message. Photo: J. Garland.
Nearly there! Photo: J. Garland.
Nearly there! Photo: J. Garland.
Carefully cleaning the message. Photo: K. Bone.
Carefully cleaning the message. Photo: K. Bone.
What do you think it says? Photo: J. Garland.
What do you think it says? Photo: J. Garland.

Katharine Watson