3.11.2010

design tools...

This set of drafting instruments was made by Stanley of London around 80 years ago. The pen handles, rulers and protractors made of ivory and the metal parts are electrum, a durable alloy of copper, nickel and zinc which replaced brass as the material of choice late in the 19th century.

The technology of the instruments is fascinating, but so is what they were used to create and document, and the interface between the mind and the 'page', so to speak. It is hard to imagine how we cannot be more prolific today as the barrier between thought and expression has been lowered in so many ways. I had to learn how to ink a drawing in school, and there is no question that the time spent trying to create the documentation is time lost from more creative acts. Or is it? Is it possible that these obsolete tools also provided the time to reflect,escape and quiet the mind?

Matthew Mays writes about the long period of slow alpha brain waves that precede the quick burst of gamma waves which EEG enabled neuroscientists equate with the "aha moment" in his recent book In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing

Perhaps our modern tools that slow us down are as powerful as those intended to speed us up?

For a more emotive, and downright inspirational expression of a similar notion watch It Might Get Loud and listen to what Jack White has to say about instruments ease of use and creativity. 
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These belonged to my Grandfather, Robert Tough Hamilton, a civil engineer. They are housed in a leather bifold box, with a small plate engraved with R T H  28 : 2 : 25.  This set looks like the fourth down on a page from David M Riches' incredible private mathematical instruments collection.  His site is like a trip to the museum...who knew there is still such a thing as a Slide-Rule Circle ?!


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