About ML

Hacking the Free Seas Since 2007

Mare Liberum is a freeform publishing, boatbuilding and waterfront art collective based in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, New York. Finding its roots in centuries-old stories of urban water squatters and haphazard water craft builders, Mare Liberum is a collaborative exploration of what it takes to make viable aquatic craft as an alternative to life on land — and as a way to make visible the overlooked and the neglected, in particular the often toxic waterways of our cities. The collective draws from sources as diverse as ocean-crossing raft assemblages, improvised refugee boats built in Senegal and Cuba, and modern stitch-and-ply construction methods which make complex, classic boat designs approachable by novice builders.  Mare Liberum’s boats, broadsheets and workshops have been exhibited by MASS MoCAThe Neuberger Museum, Maker Faire, Psy-Geo-Conflux Festival, Parsons/The New School, Boston Center for the Arts, the Boston Children’s Museum, EFA Project Space, Alexandraplatz, the Antique Boat Museum, and have been written about in Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, Bad at Sports, The Village Voice, and Vice Magazine, among others.

From 2007 to 2009, the collective built a fleet of Liberum Dories, a design that we based on the historic 15′ Banks Dory. In 2010-11 we began work on the Liberum Kayak, constructed entirely of locally-sourced bamboo, zip ties, and recycled museum-grade vinyl signage.  In 2012, for a project at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York (Thousand Islands), we constructed a boat from craft paper and wood glue, based on research into the historic paper boats of Troy New York.  In 2013, we revisited our paper boatbuilding plans and took to the Charles River in preparation for an exhibition at Boston Center for the Arts’ Mills Gallery, curated by Juliana Driever. In 2014, we have embarked on a collaboration with 350.org, called SeaChange 2014. You can find out more about the project on the SeaChange tumblr site: http://seachange2014.tumblr.com.

You can download broadsheet-sized pdf files of basic Liberum Dory instructions, or Kayak and Paper Canoe instructions.

You can also write to us if you would like to request a butcher paper template for all of the necessary parts of a Liberum Dory — just pay for the postage and materials, and we’ll send the full-scale template out to you. You can also download a pdf of the stencils you’ll need below, and then print them out “tiling” or on an oversize digital printer.

The stencils:

If you want help building a dory, finding places in New York to go boating or sailing for free, or just to get in touch and see what else we’re up to, e-mail us at: littleboats [at – anti antispam] thefreeseas.org.

Time Lapse Video of Dory Build at Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY: