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Amazing Ingenuity in Prisoners’ Inventions

by Paul Strauss
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Back in 2001, the artists’ collective Temporary Services started a project with a prison inmate named Angelo in which they asked him to document how inmates adapt to their surroundings while confined.

Prisoner's Invention: Tattoo Gun

The project, entitled Prisoners’ Inventions, resulted in this fascinating 119-page book of detailed drawings that explain exactly how prisoners build contrivances from all sorts of found materials.

The book documents everything from how to build an electric cigarette lighter out of paper clips, ice cream spoons and parts from a hot-pot, to an electric tattoo gun made from a bic pen, a walkman cassette player and a battery, to how to use your toilet to chill your soda.

This book, above all things, proves that necessity is truly the mother of invention. Maybe the best way to really get the most creative solution to technical problems would be to lock up engineers during the design phase of their projects.

The book can be ordered from the Giant Robot store for $12.00. is now out of print, but you might be able to get your hands on a used copy over on Amazon.

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