"PATIENCE IN A BOTTLE," is what bottle-ship model maker Zoltan Balogh calls his fragile works of art. The 28-year-old panel beater, who currently works as a logistics assistant, says he now also supplies artists with accessories.
"I've been dealing with making model ships in bottles since 2001," he says, revealing that he has made all sorts of models and still does. His works also include small churches and village street scenes, tractor and a railway station, all made of wood - mostly beechwood. His first bottle ship model was meant as a gift to a family he had stayed with in Austria. "The people I was living with were crazy about ships and had all kinds of relics on shipping in their apartment." Later in an Austrian shop he saw a ship in a bottle and decided that making one could be a nice surprise. Beech tree Ferrari, was an experiment that he worked on for three months, and was so happy that he kept it for himself. Last year the Ferrari club was in Budapest and Balogh, an avid Ferarri fan, took his 'bottled' model to the group's exhibition at the Hotel Acquincum where he met with the team. During the Ferrari encounter he also met with Silvano Bulgari (pictured left with Balogh), one of Italy's most famous contemporary sculptors and fashion dictators. "We started chatting about his fine jewlery and I then requested that, as a designer dedicated to minute details, he sign my bottle containing the model Ferrari," he says. "Bulgari did not hesitate to sign it and actually congratulated me for my achievement in being able to "squeeze" the complex car into a bottle".
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
"The job isn't easy," said Balogh explaining that he must get any model he makes through the 18 milimeter mouth of the bottle. He first tried to assemble the model with a surgeons tweezer. But he soon realized that to be able to carry out really delicate operations he would have to invent some of his own, more complex, instruments. "The model is first arranged in my mind's thoughts and slowly bit by bit I place the elements into the bottle and using 'super glue' fasten them together." Balogh explains how each model takes about three weeks to complete. "So far I have completed more than 40 models," he said. He is his own biggest critic, classifying his own works with a ribbon, silver and gold for best works. He has also sold some of his works, collecting a token HUF 10,000 a piece. "However there are some pieces, like this Ferarri, that I consider to be priceless," he said.
While once traveling on the tram in Budapest he helped German tourists find their way and was pleased to learned that they knew Andy Moebings, a famous mini model ship builder in Hamburg. "The more details a model has the more I am inspired to build it." In 2004 he held an exhibition at the Mammut mall in Budapest's District 2. Balogh called the show a "major success" that helped him boost his image in Hungary as one of the country's leading model - makers. Looking back he sees the metamorphosis of his talents and techniques as he mastered this form of art, always looking for new designs and developing his own. "I like to build models based on my own ideas but I'm also ready to realize ideas of anyone who wants to place orders," he said. Balogh recently received a request to build someone a "grand piano" model for a special occasion. "I've never built anything like a model piano and find it very challenging," he explains, rubbing his hands. "It is possible to build anything in this form." He now also has plans to build all seven bridges in Budapest.
TEXT: Reka A. Francisck
PHOTOS: David Harangozo
Diplomacy & Trade — October, 2006.