Looking at Ingenuity

Paul Fairweather
3 min readJul 29, 2023


Ingenuity; being clever, original and inventive.

This magnifying glass was made by a man named Halley, a jackaroo from Brucedale, the property my mum grew up on near Roma. Mum tells me the lens came out of a wartime aircraft.
It is made from a lovely piece of silky oak, tapered in one direction.
The lens holder is a piece of galvanised sheet that Halley has used tinsnips to cut notches and fold down tags to hold the lens in place.
I like to think of ingenuity as being the Australian word for Creativity. And as creativity is about putting two or more disparate things together to make something new, this is a simple yet perfect example of this in practice.
Einstein said:

“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no-one else has thought.”

And not only is the end result was a great outcome of creativity, the product itself if the perfect metaphor at looking at things differently.

Birds of a feather

I have been collecting feathers on my morning walks for Camille to make quills with. While standard-issue at Hogwarts, Camille has had to make our own. She was so disappointed that an owl or large bearded man didn’t deliver her invitation to Hogwarts on her recent 11th birthday, but there is still hope as the term doesn’t start till early July, although that hope is now fading.

But the quill, the primary writing instrument from the 13th to the 19 century, is a great example of ingenuity. Such as simple idea, sharpenign the end of a goose feather to to allow ink to be stored in the hollow tubular calamus. It has also been instrumental in allowing humankind to record and share their ideas and creations during this time.


Eventually, the quill was replaced by the metal pen, fountain pen and eventually ballpoint pen. But during that time, the simple pencil was being developed, the first version being developed around 1560 in Italy.

Of course, we have come a long way but even the simple pencil is not simple. The is a great little documentary called I Pencil adapted from the 1958 essay by Leonard E. Read. If you have six minutes spare check it out.


We all know the use of a red pen or pencil. Editing or correcting a document, or marking up documents or drawing, though some firms try a more non-abrasive approach of using blue or green.

To me this is misplaced as the whole point (excuse the pun) is that you can see red easily. As the lifesavers have tragically found out, bright pink is the most visible colour in the water!
What I didn’t know that most brands name their red pencils as correction pencils.

The Turn of the Screw
Watercolour 25: 06:20 No 175

The Screwdriver was invented somewhere during the 15th Century, in Germany or France, named respectively Schraubendreher (screwturner) and Tournevis (turnscrew).
It is just one of those things I have always taken for granted, but 500 years ago someone invented the screwdriver.
Strange to wonder what life would be like now without a screwdriver, but for thousands of years, no-one missed having a couple of spare in whatever was the equivalent of the third drawer down.

Again, another simple but very effective invention that is the result of ingenuity.

Sometimes ingenuity is a simple as just turning a screw a couple of degrees. It doesn't have to be about reinventing the world. But take something that already exists, something that everyone else sees, but look at it through a different lens, and think differently about it.