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The essence of time, distilled and captured in a bottle for your imagination.
102 backers pledged $5,414 to help bring this project to life.
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$5,414

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Imagine if we all found a letter in a bottle at the same time and experienced a hidden world, together.

Now imagine if instead of words on a page, the bottle you found held a luminous snapshot of a time and place from the past, brought to life again for an instant in your imagination. Hold your small jar up to the light and you might find Hong Kong or Cuba in the 1950's, Paris in the 1940's, zebras racing across the Serengeti, Rome at night, a Japanese tea ceremony, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, a wall in ancient Iraq, an ancient temple or some other vision of the world captured on a slide.

This idea came about after I'd been collecting fragments and tiny objects for years and storing them in jars. Instead of bringing home objects from my adventures, I bring back small jars filled with the distilled essence of a place.  

This started years ago when I found myself with a stack of old letters and photographs that I didn't want to keep or throw away. So I shredded them.  Broken down that way, the sentiments became more universal and less specific. Over time I made jars from tiny stones, shredded notes, documents, sand, wings--anything and everything. Each jar has a story.

Climbing supervolcano Mt. Epomeo to collect ash from the peak
Climbing supervolcano Mt. Epomeo to collect ash from the peak

A couple of months ago, I came up with an idea for a new kind of Mystery Jars when I opened an old box and found a photographic slide inside. I don't have a slide projector so I held it up to the light to find a gazebo from a journalism assignment from many years ago. It was so beautiful that it made me start to think about all the countless moments captured luminously on slides in boxes and attics all over the world, collecting dust. I put my gazebo slide in a jar so I could look at it without getting fingerprints on it. The jar became a little theatre of the imagination for the image, and when people came into my studio at Science House they loved it. Since slides are essentially the imprint of time captured in light, it's like having a flickering firefly in a jar lighting up for an instant to fill you with wonder. 

I started acquiring slide collections. I was stunned by what people sent me. I spent an entire evening going through one box. In a series of holidays, birthdays and other milestones, I saw a family grow. I watched babies become children. They morphed into high school graduates, then got married and became parents right in front of me, one small image at a time. I saw snapshots of Roman holidays, pilgrimages to the Holy Land, voyages in sailboats, Cuban dancing, bullfights in Spain, Mexican fisherman, French women with tiny dogs. So now instead of these thousands of images being in other people's basements and attics, they are stacked up in mine. Instead of just capturing my own memories in jars, I was suddenly storing the memories of strangers. These moments deserve a new life! Instead of keeping them, I want to share them with you. That's how this Kickstarter project, Time in a Bottle, was born.

I worked with designer Oliver Uberti to create the prototype for the box, the tags that tell the story of each image's contents, origin and date, and the booklet that shares a bit about the project with each supporter. With your support, I can finish curating the massive collection of slides in my studio, assemble the jars, write the history of each image on its tag, fasten the tags to the Mystery Jars, nestle them in gold paper in their boxes and ship them out to you. 

With your support, thousands of moments that were lost in time will be brought to life again in the imaginations of people all over the world.  

Time in a Bottle Mystery Jars make the perfect gift. I will get the first round out to supporters by the holidays. Make sure you read the reward levels carefully if you'd like to get your Mystery Jars in time to share the unexpected gift of time travel experience with friends and family before the end of the year. Two of the reward categories will ship in time for the holidays. The rest will ship at the beginning of 2014. 

Supporters who choose TIME TRAVELER'S ADVENTURE CLUB will receive the most spectacular images in the collection, as well as a letter from me. Members of the TIME TRAVELER'S ADVENTURE CLUB set are asked to wait until a specific time and date to open their boxes so we can all share the experience at the same time, instantly resurrecting people, places and objects from multiple continents in our minds simultaneously and sharing our discoveries. The time and date will be revealed in the letter that accompanies each box in this set. Let's travel through time together by bringing the past back to life in the future.

PS. Kickstarter doesn't allow the merger of multiple accounts, so this account only reflects the last dozen Kickstarter projects I've supported. Under my other account, I supported 38 additional projects. Aside from the project that didn't deliver, I've loved watching these projects grow over time, and I'm thrilled to finally launch my own!

Risks and challenges

Backers who choose levels that ship in December must immediately respond to requests for shipping information or I can't guarantee holiday delivery, given the timing, but I will do my best. Those who share shipping information on time will receive their rewards first. In order to prevent any potential problems, I've limited the quantity of Mystery Jars that will ship in December. Please read the reward levels carefully before making a selection.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A MYSTERIOUS GLIMPSE through time and space into the past. Your reward, a card from the artist, will transport you somewhere else in the world.

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    6 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    LOST IN TIME: A luminous, provocative moment in time from the life of slide photography, recaptured for you to bring to life again in your imagination. When your mysterious box arrives, it will contain a jar. The tag attached to the jar will tell you when and where the image inside was captured.

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    Limited 12 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    TIME TRAVELER'S ADVENTURE CLUB Supporters at this level will receive a spectacular image in a boxed jar, tagged with its contents and date, and a note that reveals the time and date for all members of the Time Traveler's Adventure Club to open their Mystery Jars at the same time. If you support Time in a Bottle at this level, you will be part of an unforgettable shared experience.

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    Limited 36 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    TIME TRAVELER'S HOLIDAY: The Mystery Jars in this set (one jar per box) will be shipped immediately in December so you can delight yourself as well as your friends and family with a glimpse of a lost moment brought back to life in your imagination. This set includes the images that stopped me in my tracks with a sense of awe and wonder. Animals in the Serengeti. Rome at night. Cuba and Hong Kong in the 1950's. Paris in the 1940's. New York City. Japan.

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    Limited 27 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    PAIRING UP FOR ADVENTURE: This set comes with two Mystery Jars and two cards. Perfect for a pair of kids, parents, lovers or friends to open together and see what they get. An excellent Valentine's Day surprise.

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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 6 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $165 or more About $165

    HOLIDAY BOX SET: Half a dozen Mystery Jars and cards shipped in one box to surprise and delight you, your family and friends. A time travel experience to remember forever. This reward level will ship immediately in December.

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    Limited 8 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)