Good ideas with bad execution, or good execution of what should be bad ideas - an analysis of inferior, off-beat or malfunctioning products, and how other people's failures can help us design better stuff.
A Pewter Fork Succumbs to Bending Stress
Look ma — no hands!
Uri Geller’s claim to fame is that he can bend a piece of flatware – just by thinking about it!! His website also says he does assorted kinds of important investigative work the government, but it’s so highly confidential he can’t talk about it.
Well I recently did him one better and cleaved this cast pewter serving fork cleanly in half. Okay, I needed the assistance of my right arm to manage it, but I’m fairly scrawny, even for a girl.
Now, please, don’t start in with the jokes about bad cooks in the kitchen and tough, stringy cuts of meat. I was in the process of carving up a tender, store-bought honey-baked ham when I broke the fork in two. At this point, astute engineers will recall that pewter is a finicky material and that pewter alloys are notoriously brittle, especially when cast. And they know that you never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever design in a slender cross section that will be subjected to high bending stress. Though possessing a lovely finish and artistic design–after all, it was purchased at a tony Museum Shop–my fork was sentenced to a premature demise given the poor choice of material and silly geometry. To make a long-lasting serving piece, the makers could have traded off their artsy fartsy design by thickening up the cross section (around about 3X or so) and using a more sensible material like stainless steel. But then it wouldn’t be art, would it?