Protractor, Stencil, and Ruler by Sterling, US, 1940s
A keen schoolchild, an innovative engineer, or perhaps a skilled artist may have used this multi-faceted instrument. It has a striking appearance, as the shape is both irregular and beautiful, allowing for multiple functions. This instrument blurs the lines between trace-leaving object and one that has traces left on it. Without the human marks that indicate the angles for the protractor function, the distances for the ruler functions, or the names and sizes of the shapes it could be used to draw, it would be a puzzling and useless instrument indeed. However, it is precisely because those marks have been left on this instrument that we have, and still are, able to use this object for a variety of purposes. Thus, this protractor, stencil, and ruler offers us a glimpse into the interactions between man and instrument in order to create meaning and function.