April 10, 2010

Invention of the Safety Pin – 1849

On this day in 1849, American Walter Hunt was granted a patent for his invention of the safety pin. Made from one piece of wire coiled into a spring at one end and a clasp-and-point at the other end, his brainstorm took only a few hours to invent.

Hunt sold the rights to his invention for $400.
Actually, as you probably figured if you have read much history about inventions, Hunt's invention didn't come out of thin air...It was really a RE-invention. Safety pins have been in use since the 14th Century B.C. and the Mycenaeans. They, too, had clasps that kept their pins attached to whatever they were pinned to and that also protected the users from sharp points. What Walter Hunt added to the design was the spring provided by the coil of wire at the other end from the clasp.

Safety pins are used for repairs, for diapers (usually jumbo-sized and cute, they are often called diaper pins), for punk-rock fashion, and even for jewelry.

To celebrate the safety pin's invention, make a repair kit.

Use felt and safety pins to make a small pouch for a quick-fix-it kit. Include in the kit several safety pins, several paper clips, a needle or two (mount on another piece of felt), thread, several band-aids, a packet of gauze, a small roll of adhesive tape, a moist towelette in its unopened packet, a small piece of cloth that can be used for patches, and dental floss (which can be used as ultra-strong thread). If you have room, put in a tiny package of tissues as well.

Or go all-out and make a survival kit to keep in the car or take on your next hiking trip. Here are some ideas, and here is a slide show detailing
a wilderness survival kit that fits in an Altoids mints container.

Here's some inspiration on making a more complete sewing kit.
Make a safety-pin-and-beads pin.

I have seen many flag pins created with safety pins and tiny seed beads, but any small design that can be created on a rectangular field will work. Here is a how-to video.

This website has some ideas and instructions for more pins and jewelry. (Note that they are trying to sell kits --at cost, in the case of the Haitian flag fundraiser kit!--and their instructions include harder-to-find coiless pins. You can assemble beads and pins yourself, however, and I have seen these safety-pin flag pins that have regular old dime-a-dozen large-size safety pins as their base. Also, seed beads are easy to find at craft stores.)

Here is another set of directions that assume you are using ordinary safety pins.

Make a safety-pin bracelet.

Know any girls whose birthdays are coming up? Know any moms whose Day is getting near? (Mother's Day is May 9.)

Try making this cool bracelet as a gift.

Some artists in South Africa make their safety-pin jewelry, not with purchased beads, but with recycled materials such as discarded telephone wire, computer cables, and plastic tubing. Very cool. Here is a close-up picture of the telephone-wire-safety-pin bracelet idea. (Actually, I like the simple, silvery look of just the plain pins, too.)

Do a safety pin jigsaw puzzle.

1 comment:

  1. We just used safety-pins today to pin on our race numbers.