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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Fort Thomas Resident Creates Time Capsules - An Activity For The Whole Family

Jon Bob Willis and his business partner create a durable time capsule activity for families wanting to remember quarantine and this period in time. (Img: Tenuer website)

By Jessie Eden

It's 2020 and we've had one heck of a year so fact, that is an understatement. Twenty years from now, will the next generation really understand how crazy it's been? Wouldn't it be interesting if you could take a snapshot of this unprecedented time and share it with them.

Well, a new product created in Fort Thomas may help you do just that.

The Tenuer Time Capsule, created by Jon Bob Willis and his business partner Andy Garrett came up with the idea just as quarantine hit. "Everything that I do is based on simple idea that creativity cannot exist without limitations. As we went into Covid quarantine, I was interested to see what kind of creative endeavors people would be doing," said Jon Bob. "The work that I typically do, that work dried up immediately. I do this family portrait thing ever Fall and I started thinking of different ways to tell a story. This is a time unlike what anyone has ever experienced and we're unlikely to experience it again. I started asking myself...'What can do to help people tell their stories?"

In asking himself this question, the inspiration for the Tenuer (pronounced 'ten-year') capsule actually came from a random 1990's memorabilia post on Instagram. "There were all these things I forgot about! Ads from Sears catalogs, things that were important at the time that now we've forgotten," said Jon Bob. "I realized the details and our personal story are unique and will get lost if they are not contained. I thought it'd be really cool tool to help people to do that."

Jon Bob pulled from his past experiences and the desire to create something for the whole family to build upon the time capsule idea. "I like to gather people, I like shared experiences. This is a family-based activity that everyone can contribute to; whether its a two-year-old's drawings, college students efforts, your own creations. This has a universal application and it's also a way to kind of look for hope. Hope exists when we look past the idea of looking towards 10 years from now was potentially a good thing for people."

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A Strategy for the Stuff

The biggest question - what would you put in it? How do you decide? What will be practical enough to last but also meaningful when the capsule is opened in 10 years?

They thought about that too.

Jon Bob and Andy considered those practical concerns when designing the piece...which they also wanted to be affordable yet durable. They put together a collection of resources to create a guide to help people gather things. They tried to make it realistic and also unique. "We researched different time capsule options, to see how people were doing it. A lot are very expensive. Some are cheap with no equipment inside," said Jon Bob. "I actually have a background in art and archiving as a NKU grad. I used the ideas on archiving and adopted these things for use in the kit.

A Method Behind The Materials

But, logistics are always something you have to consider when thinking about something that will need to last (and protect things) for 10 years...because we all know a LOT can happen in 10 years. 

Heck, a lot can happen in just a year -- so how can someone be sure the items will stand the test of time, like, physically?

The truth is, it required a bit of trial and error -- the team went through 10 different versions of the capsule before settling on one. "I've done enough things now that your first idea is not the final idea. I tried a handful of things, which is how can we keep cost manageable. We had a whole bunch of things to figure out; we need to make it big enough to put things in there, it has to be durable, it has to be waterproof. Also, where do we get the materials? How can we hand build them at the studio?" said Jon Bob. "There's a simple way we can use some plumbing materials and ways to cap and seal it. We looked at how long the things are rated for and the version we use now is rated for 10 years. We doubled our longevity on it and included an anti-corrosion sack which is like a plastic material, for those who want to bury it. Just roll it up, tape it up and bury it in that."

So, what do people think?

"So far, feedback is really cool. People have enjoyed the cool design throughout. We really pushed it around the Father's Day as an activity and there were a lot of the people who bought them for Father's Day. We've heard that a lot of families are taking some time to do it with thoughtful letters to each other."

This past March, Jon Bob helped to create the drive through stations of the cross across Fort Thomas. He included a piece from his work in his family's time capsule.
(Img: FTM File)

Jon Bob says he and his family are in the process of doing one themselves too, just to remember this wild time in history. "We are in the process of doing one, we've included recipes we re-discovered during quarantine, a piece of my project from drive through praying of crosses and I even printed off tickets from a Hawaii trip that never happened. We also put in a mask and a grocery bill."

To learn more about Tenuer Time Capsules, click here to visit the website.

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