This website documents Elliott Cost’s residency with Quoin Poeteau in Summer 2021.

Earth Boxes

Nadege's packing list

  1. Magnetic pin cushion with pins for sewing
  2. Photocopy of 'The Weaving Tranquil', unknown artist; 1403
  3. 'C Thru' by Westcott lined ruler, imperial (16ths)
  4. 'Unfading Red' slate sample from Vermont

Matt's packing list

  1. Fragment of a limestone egg and dart moulding
  2. Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must be More to Life by Maurice Sendak
  3. Miscellaneous stationary items

Elliott's packing list

  1. Spring water from Saratoga, New York.
  2. A pear kitchen timer.
  3. A photograph of the sky cut into the shape of a fish.
  4. A ceramic water tile by my partner.
Photo of a shoebox.

an email arrives

In the summer I received an email from Quoin Poeteau.

From: Quoin Poteau
Date: 2021-05-20 14:20

Hi Elliott,

I've been an admirer of some of your handmade websites for some time now and recently came across your application to be "our" resident artist.

We're a small design and architecture firm based in Montreal. We have no real digital presence and are not sure where to start, but this seems like an interesting way to cross the threshold. We could use a kind of container to share things with the world, archive things for ourselves, leave a calling card...

We are two: Nadege, with a background in textiles, jewelry, art and architecture; Matt, background in architecture and academia. We are very much believers in the physical handmade, so why not the digital, too? And it seems we have a common interest in spaces and places.

We'd love to chat if you are still interested in being our resident artist.


I was excited to learn more about Nadege and Matt's design & architecture firm so we set up an initial meeting.

On May 21 at 3PM we had our first video call. I told them about how the idea for I want to be your company's resident artist had come to be and they told me about their studio. They also shared with me what they did that day. We decided this would be a nice ritual to continue in future meetings.

Excerpts from Quoin Poteau's day on May 21st

During our first meeting, Nadege and Matt mentioned how they had worked with a photographer once to document several home renovations before they had begun and that these photographs were stored in a few shoe boxes somewhere. This idea reminded me of a scene in Stewart Brand's video series, How Buildings Learn where an architect talks about how he photographs the walls of the homes he builds before the sheetrock goes up so that in the future the homeowners will know exactly where all the wiring and piping is located.

This also got me thinking about the shoe boxes that Nadege and Matt were using to store their photos. Shoe boxes are a wonderful and inexpensive home storage solution–the size and proportions of a standard shoe box easily fits a book and a few other items, and is elegant in how portable and stackable it is. This idea of portability lead me to consider the shoe box as a metaphor for an architectural model or a website, yet this felt like an overused metaphor–I was curious if the shoebox evoked any other qualities.

Magicians often use boxes as a means of creating the illusion of teleportation. The box becomes a tool/technology for transition. It was interesting to consider the shoe box as a portal. Websites are also portals, moving information from one architecture to another. I decided that as an initial project, we should build shoe box portals. I named this project Earth Boxes because our portals would be departing from Earth.

To: Quoin Poteau
Date: 2021-06-04 20:02


I have this image stuck in my head from our last meeting of 3 shoeboxes (for each of us). I also like the similarities between shoebox/website/house model/diorama. I think this would be a fun concept to explore further and could make a pretty great handmade website of it's own!

To help Nadege and Matt create and document their Earth Boxes I made my earth box and sent them the following instructional PDF.