The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 23, 1990, THE SOWER, Page 9, Image 20

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    Woman credits father for gift of inventiveness
she’s never
marketed her
Lucy Moore
shies away
from calling
herself an
“I don’t
know if I’m the
person you
should be
talking to,”
the Lincoln
memoer says,
settling into an antique-looking chair
in her living room.
“My father is the real inventor."
She leans over and picks a thin piece
of wood off the floor. It’s covered with
green, red and purple marker doodles.
“This is one of his inventions,” she
says. “A reading board. Really, a read
ing/writing board. I use it all the time."
She takes a book from a nearby table
and places it on the board in her lap to
demonstrate how it’s used.
Her father, she explains, is always
inventing, keeps a “dream journal and
diary," and carves owls out of pieces of
wood he finds on walks.
Seven of her father’s owl sculptures
preside over Moore’s living room from
atop the fireplace mantle. Moore picks
one of them up and sniffs it. It’s pine,
she says.
“Picking out the different kinds of
wood is part of the experience for him.
He likes to explore."
In 1976. Moore said, her lather gave
her a book called “Makers of Modem
Thought." She hurries off to the base
ment to find it.
“I’ll recognize it by the color," she
says. It’s bright red-orange.
The inscription from her father reads.
This will help you appreciate how our
culture came to now — I’m sure these
people had help; they are representa
Moore credits her fathers influence
as one reason for her “inventive no
“I was fortunate enough to have grown
up in a family that valued art. music —
all the arts — and adventure and ex
ploration," she explains. “And so I grew
up , .. reading biographies and how-to
books and understanding that every
thing that we have is eitner a bypro
duct of nature or it’s sometliing that
people have created."
Moore explains this philosophy with
a “For instance — the freeway, the
Pretend you’re driving to Omaha on
Interstate 80. she says, and suddenly
you start to think about the road you’re
riding on and what an incredible trav
elway it is.
“My grandparents probably saw the
freeway, but not my great-grandpar
ents .... So what will you and I Just see
that our grandchildren will take for
The soon-to-be 38-year-old looks
toward the future for ideas for inven
But the invention she says holds the
most promise is a little embarrassing
to talk about.
“Litmus paper underwear," she calls
In the future, she explains, planet
Earth will have to deal with growing
overpopulation, but most methods of
birth control now are inadequate.
One method, called natural family
planning, involves a way to detect when
a woman is fertile, Moore says, which
is about 24 hours out of the monthly
menstrual cycle. But because sperm
can live for about 72 hours, she says,
the time scale for becoming pregnant
involves 72 hours on either side of the
woman’s 24-hour fertility period.
So, Moore wants to make women’s
underwear that would change color
during that time period to indicate when
it's possible for a woman to get preg
“That would be just about no-fail
birth control,” she says. “But if that
seems too silly, let’s see what else we
can do.”
When overpopulation becomes a big
problem, she says, issues such as family
structure, abortion rights and gay and
lesbian rights will be just as important
as birth control.
“What could somebody think of to
deal with this?”
Moore rests her chin in her hand
and her gray-blue eyes turn to the wall.
Wind chimes from the patio make the
only sound.
Finally, Moore admits she doesn’t
know how to go about creating litmus
paper underwear, but she’s sure some
one could do it.
“Ideas like that are pretty intriguing.
I wish I could make them happen."
For now, Moore says, she mostly
uses her inventive notions around the
house and in her artwork.
Having two children and a big house
provides plenty of opportunity for in
vent ion, Moore says, even if those in
ventions are something as simple as a
new homemade soup.
This week she’s been thinking about
what to do with all the newspapers she
has stacked up from a new subscrip
“What could every house do with
newspapers that everyone’s not doing
now?" sne wonders. “I can’t throw them
in the soup."
She picks up a brightly painted globe
from an end table.
“This is one of my favorite pieces of
art in this house." she says. It’s made of
newspaper, paper mached by her two
sons. “There’s one good reuse of news
Suddenly, a smile works its way
across Moore’s cheeks and the subject
“Here’s something intriguing." she
says. “Think about men’s ties ....
Women’s fashion has changed a lot,
but men have always worn ties."
Women’s fashion is the one area
Moore says most of her inventive no
tions come from.
"About ten to lilteen years ago, i
looked In my closet, and I saw that
there wasn’t a single pair of shoes
other than my loafers, tennis shoes
and ballet shoes that were comfort
But that’s changed, she says, be
cause women invented shoes that are
more comfortable.
Moore wants to revolutionize hand
I don’t use handbags anymore. I
use waist bags." she says. A waist bag
is a pouch to cany things that is at
tached to a belt, she explains.
Photo by Jana Pedersen
Lucy Moore and her paper doll.
Moore says she doesn’t like hand
bags because they’re too cumbersome.
Wearing a waist bag frees up her hands,
she says.
“Except it always looks like I’m about
to go hiking."
When Moore and her husband were
going out to dinner last week, she says,
she was forced to use a handbag be
cause the waist bag looked awkward.
So now she will pursue an idea she’s
thought of before — sewing waist bags
out of silk to be worn on dressier occa
Another of Moore’s apparel inven
tions she calls a “wrist biter."
When she used to jog during winter,
she says, an area of skin between her
coat cuffs and gloves was exposed, so
she wanted to find a way to cover that
She borrowed an idea from her ballet
class — leg warmers — and adapted
that in a smaller version by cutting the
toes out of a pair of long socks. Since
then, she has knit a few pairs of wrist
Hospitals and nursing homes would
be good markets for biters, she says,
pulling a pair up to her elbow's, be
cause they keep arms warm but are
much easier to put on than a sweater.
But adapting socks for a new use is
really just inventive thinking, she says.
“Many people have the capability to
be inventors. All we have to do is learn
to think creatively with the materials at
In her artwork. Moore says, she likes
to see how to work through accidents.
One of her favorite painting tools is a
cherry wood chopstick made by her
“It has accidents and I have to deal
with them which can be pretty excit
ing," she says, holding up the chop
stick. Her name is carved into the large
The other chopstick had a flower on
it. she says. But she gave it to an old
A couple of the cherry wood chop
stick paintings are self-portraits, she
says, laying them across the floor.
One is in blue ink on a vertical strip
of paper. .She takes her glasses off
because she isn’t wearing them in the
“Does it look like me?... My mother
doesn’t like them. She thinks I should
be smiling."
The other self-portrait she’s working
on is a print for an art class at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She
calls it a “paper doll" and says it’s an
example of how she uses invention in
her artwork.
The original print was too dark and
gloomy and had a large scarf wrapped
around the head, she says. She didn’t
like the big scarf, so she chopped it off.
“I just cut it out of the picture." she
says. “Like if the litmus underwear
were too noisy and scratchy, we'd try
something else."
She plans to use (lowered paper in
the shape of a smaller scarf and differ
ent colored backgrounds to “chirp up"
the paper doll even more.
“That's the artistic process." she
explains, drawing circles with lines
connecting them on a piece of paper.
“One idea ieads to another .... Some
times it takes a while before you bump
into or hit upon what takes you to the
next step. But don’t throw out a dumb
idea. It may get you where you want."
She uses the pen to highlight parts
of her illustration. The first circle is the
original idea, she explains, which leads
to a second, bad idea, which leads to a
third, better idea, which leads to a
fourth idea that's also bad. But that
sends the inventor back to the second
idea, and from there comes the fin
ished product, on which she draws a
“I think that I look at the world In an
inventive way and think about our
idea, and from there comes the fin
ished product, on which she draws a
“I think that 1 look at the world in an
inventive way and think about our
species as a species capable of creating
environments and tools. I guess it would
be tools and environments because the
tools come first."
Tools, like the cherry wood chop
“Good tools are important. They make
all the difference in life . . .. Too much
baggage is too much baggage. It’s bet
ter to have a few good tools."
And using these tools to create new
things is invention, she decides.
“yeah, I guess I am an inventor," she
says. “And maybe I’ll pursue these ideas
now, the more promising ones."
— Jana Pedersen
Senior Editor