Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Friday, March 30, 2012


Inventors draw and sketch as part of their “process” of working out an idea. Drawing moves the idea from the inventor’s mind to the paper, making it seem more possible. Sketches and drawings also convince.  They convince us to imagine what something will look like, or how it might work before actually building or manufacturing it. The pencil sketch here represents the “process of working it out” at its very best.  Drawn by Joseph Friedman (1915-1982), this sketch from the 1930s is the first record of Friedman working out his “flexible straw”  idea. These pencil lines were drawn quickly on the reverse side of a scrap of paper, but with purpose-- to show that he wanted his straw to flex or bend.  The sketch is whimsical too, and at quick glance reminds me of a flower wilting in a vase.  Friedman eventually patented his flexible straw work (U.S. Patent #2,094,268) which was called a Drinking Tube, on September 28, 1937. 

Alison Oswald, Archivist
Archives Center, National Museum of American History 

No comments:

Post a Comment