time capsule, part 2

See part 1 of this project.

In thinking about the shape and form of my capsule, I felt like my contents would be more at home inside a simple and somewhat rustic box. Even though my specific cuia and Moka are only a few years old, the design of the objects themselves date back several decades. A seashell is much, much older. So instead of putting those objects in a cold, shiny metal box, I felt drawn to the idea of a wooden chest with a latch or lock of some kind. From then, I started thinking about how to decorate the material.

My first thought was some kind of symbol for each of the locations referenced by my objects, one in each side of the box. For the Moka, my immediate thought was the red fleur-de-lis that stands as a symbol for the city. The cuia could have my home state’s coat of arms, and the coffee mug could be represented by the New York City seal. I had two problems with the idea in the end: first, that I couldn’t find a good parallel representation of Cape Cod or Hyannis, and second, that taking a closer look at the NYC seal reminded me of basically every criticism one can make about flags and their inherently colonial nature.

My next thought was still inspired in flags. The blue sphere at the center of Brazil’s flag supposedly represents the sky in Rio de Janeiro (then capital of the monarchy) on the night of November 15th, 1889 — the day Brazil became a Republic. However I feel about flags these days, I love that element of the flag. I appreciate that the stars are arranged in a specific, meaningful pattern. This seemed very poignant for my capsule — wherever I have gone and found these objects, the sky has always been the same. So I decided to represent the sky in those meaningful locations, also on meaningful dates in my narrative.

To create these astronomical representations, I found the website In-The-Sky, which lets you download SVGs. I listed out the dates that would be most meaningful to the narrative (sometimes leaning on my Instagram archive for help):

  • Cuia: December 16th, 199X*, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The day I was born, at 12PM. Since I’m a younger child, it wasn’t as big of a deal to record the exact time I was born (my parents always said “around lunch”), so I rounded down.
  • Mug: August 25th, 2013, in New York, United States, at 12AM. The night I flew to the City to start my freshman year in college.
  • Moka: January 26th, 2015, in Florence, Italy, at 12AM. The night I flew to Florence to start my study abroad. In an insane coincidence that I didn’t realize until this week — this was my husband’s birthday. I wouldn’t meet him until August 25th of that year (you’ll notice that was also an important date for me already, and became doubly meaningful).
  • Seashell: August 26th, 2017, in Barnstable, United States, at 12PM. The day after our wedding and first day of our honeymoon, about the time we got out of the Greyhound bus that took us to Hyannis.

After I had the SVGs, I imported them on Illustrator to clean up some details and help render the box more faithfully. This is how the seals came out:

The next step was creating a cardboard prototype to measure the dimensions of the box. I wanted to leave a little bit of room, so it came to about 14x7x8 inches. I drew out the shapes with a sharpie and cut each rectangle with a knife, then taped them together on the inside.

With these dimensions, I used one of the model renders in Adobe Dimension to create my box. I found a stock image of light wood to texturize the box, and then edited the seals to look like they were burned on. The effect is not as visible in the render as it was on Photoshop, so here they are as I intended:

Last but not least, here is the render using Adobe Dimension’s shareable link. I had never used the program before, so I was pretty excited at how well this turned out. If I had more familiarity with it, I would try to sketch the latch or lock I was envisioning, but for the time being this seemed really neat to me:

* Year redacted because for some reason people’s birthdates are sometimes part of security checks.