Family Time Capsule

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Family Time Capsule

When I started this project, I intended to do a traditional time capsule to wrap up the year 2012.

I had never done a time capsule before, but by traditional, I mean I pictured making a box full of things that represent our current culture. Maybe I'd include a news article printed off the internet about the debate over the end of the world coinciding with the end of the (then) current Mayan calendar on December 21, a photo of a package of Twinkies, a photo or article representing the presidential election, a catalog from a favorite clothing store. There would be funny personal stuff, too, like my son's first cell phone that we finally had to replace at the end of the year because it was held together with a rubber band.

As I researched what other people had put in their time capsule so I could get more ideas for my own, I stumbled across several articles about the opening of a time capsule created by Enrico Fermi, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who helped create the atom bomb. While a few of the articles were written from a neutral point of view, the consistent theme in most of them was the disappointment felt by those who witnessed the opening of the time capsule. What were the contents that brought about feelings of disappointment? A University of Chicago directory, a road map, train and airplane timetables, an architect's sketch of the building that housed his time capsule in one of the cornerstones, University of Chicago announcements for May 25, 1948, brochures about some of his scientific works, and a list of postdoctoral fellows. Those who witnessed the opening said they were hoping for something more exciting. One had speculated that there would be more of Fermi's scientific revelations inside. Another had hoped to find his predictions about the future.

I am not a scientist or a scholar, nor will I ever contribute anything to history that even begins to approach the magnitude of the creation of the atom bomb, so my time capsule contents will be considerably different than Enrico Fermi's. There also will not be newspaper reporters or television cameras at the opening of my time capsule as there were at his! But I can still draw from this experience when creating my own time capsule. Where a similarity can be drawn is that in both cases, the mementos stored away for the future are for people, not for time, and people have a desire for personal connections. What Fermi's time capsule was missing himself. It didn't include any of his thoughts or his opinions, his stories behind the contents he chose, more of his revelations, his predictions about the future.

As I re-evaluated my plan for my time capsule, I thought about my future audience (my boys and their families) and what might appeal to them. It wouldn't be a photo of the 2012 Presidential candidates, but it might be a photo of the Presidential candidates accompanied by a letter explaining why we supported the candidate we did. It wouldn't be a photo of a package of Twinkies, but it might be a photo of a package of Twinkies accompanied by a note reminiscing about our weekly trip to the Hostess Bakery Outlet where our oldest son, at age 6, would spend 30 minutes contemplating the choice between a fruit pie, chocolate cupcakes, or a package of Ho-Hos.

My plan for my time capsule has evolved into more than just filling a box with things. I've created a box in which everyone in the family can contribute items over the course of the next year.  At the end of the year, we can go back through it and add our thoughts or opinions, our stories behind the contents we chose to include.

making a time capsule 1

I've designed my box so that it can sit out in our house in a prominent location as part of the decor for the next year. I started with a round chipboard box and added some strips of masking tape.

making a time capsule 2

To make the masking tape border more decorative, I adhered masking tape to wax paper, punched it with a Fiskars Interchangeable Border Punch, and adhered it to the existing layers of masking tape.

making a time capsule 3

My plan to make one impression with this "Remember When" stamp on the lid of my box quickly changed when I forgot to take into account that the lid was warped. This made my impression incomplete, so I randomly stamped over the whole lid this way.

making a time capsule 4

To soften my stamping, I dry brushed over it with my base paint.

making a time capsule 5

I continued with strips of masking tape on the lid followed by more paint.

making a time capsule 6

I added a handwritten quote and a decorative tag.

making a time capsule 7

And finally, I lightly sponged some brown stamping ink over parts of the box to give it a weathered look. If I added too much ink, I lightly painted over the areas again, allowing the brown to still show through.