Title:
SWINGER ARTICLE AND METHODS THEREOF
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An article of manufacture adapted to swing from a supporting structure, such as a tree limb or a post, and a method of providing the appearance of a figure in a hammock is provided. The article includes a base member formed in the shape of a hammock, having an arcuate shape in which a body in the shape of a figure, such as an animal, is positioned. The base member has an attachment mechanism on each end thereof which functionally engages a swing element for suspending the article from the supporting structure. The swing element, such as a rope, cord or metal cable, passes through each of the attachment mechanisms to permit swinging movement of the article and, along with the base and body, provide the appearance of a figure in a hammock



Inventors:
Ingebrigtson, Dan (Franklin, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/459209
Publication Date:
01/24/2008
Filing Date:
07/21/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63G9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LOPEZ, RICARDO E.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GODFREY & KAHN S.C. (833 East Michigan Street, Suite 1800, Milwaukee, WI, 53202-5615, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An article of manufacture adapted to swing from a supporting structure comprising: an arcuate base member having top and bottom surfaces and comprising front and back sides and first and second ends transverse to the front and back sides, each of the first and second ends tapering from a bottom portion to a top portion thereof, a first attachment portion engaged to the first tapered end, the first attachment portion having at least one horizontally disposed section; a second attachment portion engaged to the second tapered end, the second attachment portion having at least one substantially horizontally disposed section; a body in the shape of at least one figure connected to the base member; and a swing element for suspending the article from the supporting structure, the swing element passing through each of the first and second attachment portions to permit swinging movement of the article, the base, the body and the swing element providing the appearance of a figure in a hammock.

2. The article of claim 1 wherein each of the first and second attachment portions are integrally formed with each of the first and second tapered ends, respectively.

3. The article of claim 1 wherein each of the first and second attachment portions are substantially tubular comprising first and second apertures and a conduit portion extending therebetween.

4. The article of claim 1 wherein the first attachment portion and the second attachment portion are substantially coplanar.

5. The article as in claim 1 wherein the at least one figure comprises an animal, a person, a fictional character, a plant, an ornamental design and combinations thereof.

6. The article as in claim 5 wherein the figure comprises at least one bear.

7. The article as in claim 5 wherein the at least one figure is selected from an animal, a person and a fictional character, and wherein the at least one figure is disposed in at least one of a sitting, a sleeping, a standing and a laying down position.

8. The article as in claim 1 wherein the swing element comprises at least one of a rope, a cord, a cable and combinations thereof.

9. The article as in claim 1 wherein the swing element is a rope.

10. The article as in claim 1 wherein the swing element comprises a first rope passing through the first attachment portion and a second rope passing through the second attachment portion.

11. The article as in claim 1 wherein the article is formed from concrete or concrete derivatives.

12. An article configured to swing from a supporting structure at an elevation above the ground, the swinging article comprising: a base member in the form of a hammock, the base member including a first attachment portion, a second attachment portion and an area for receiving a body extending therebetween, wherein each of the first and second attachment portions are substantially tubular, including first and second apertures; and at least one swing element for suspending the article from the supporting structure, the at least one swing element extending through each of the first and second attachment portions to permit swinging movement of the article, the base, the body and the swing element providing the appearance of a figure in a hammock.

13. The swinging article as in claim 12 wherein each of the first and second attachment portions includes a section disposed in a substantially horizontal plane.

14. The swinging article as in claim 12 wherein the body comprises at least one figure disposed within the area of the base member.

15. The swinging article as in claim 14, wherein the at least one figure includes a first body aperture and a second body aperture, wherein the at least one swing element passes through both the first and second body apertures.

16. The swinging article as in claim 14 wherein the at least one figure comprises an animal, a person, a fictional character, a plant, an ornamental design and combinations thereof.

17. The swinging article as in claim 16 wherein the at least one figure comprises a bear.

18. The swinging article as in claim 12 the at least one swing element comprises a rope, a cord, a cable or combinations thereof.

19. A method of providing the appearance of a figure in a hammock, the method comprising: providing a swinging article comprising a base member in the form of a hammock, the base member including a first attachment portion, a second attachment portion and an area for receiving a body extending therebetween, wherein each of the first and second attachment portions are substantially tubular; providing at least one swing element for suspending the article from the supporting structure, the at least one swing element comprising at least one of a rope, a cable, a cord and combinations thereof; and passing the at least one swing element through each of the first and second attachment portions and suspending the swing element on the supporting structure to permit swinging movement of the article and to provide the appearance of a figure in a hammock.

20. The method as in claim 19 wherein the supporting structure is selected from the group consisting of a post, a tree, a hook, a doorway, a porch, a patio railing, a fence, and a trellis.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to indoor/outdoor articles of manufacture and, more particularly, to swinging structures used, for example, to repel animals and birds and for decorative purposes, and methods of providing the appearance of a figure in a hammock.

At the present time there are a large variety of commercially available sculptures which may be used as key keepers, statuary and candleholders. For example, one type of animal-shaped structure is formed from pre-cast gypsum plaster and consists of a sculpture in the shape of an animal such as a rabbit, a squirrel, or a duck. In addition it is known to equip figures such as frogs with citronella candles to keep bugs away from a patio or deck. It is also known to form planters in the shape of a frog having feet which serve to raise the rest of the planter, including the flower pot in the planter, off the deck or porch. However, there is still a need for an article of manufacture which is adapted to swing from supporting structures such as trees, posts, etc. and to a method of providing the appearance of a figure disposed within a hammock.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides, in part, an article of manufacture adapted to swing from a supporting structure. The article, which is preferably hand cast or formed from hardening materials including but not limited to, concrete or concrete derivatives, plastics, poly resin, glass, and or metal, has a body in the shape of a figure connected to a base member. Preferably, the base member is formed in the shape of a hammock, and includes top and bottom surfaces, front and back sides and first and second opposing ends that are transverse to the front and back sides. The front and back sides, the opposing side ends and the top surface of the base member define an area or space in which the body is positioned and/or integrally formed to give the appearance of a figure lying within a hammock. The base member can also include gathers, fringes, ridges, markings or other indicia on any one or more of its surfaces to assist in forming the base member into a hammock.

Each of the side ends of the base member extends upwardly from the lowermost point of the base member, and taper such that the lower portion of each of the side ends has a larger width than the width of the top portion. A first attachment portion is engaged to the first tapered side end and a second attachment portion is engaged to the second tapered end. The first and second attachment portions are preferably tubular in shape and include a substantially horizontally disposed section therein for maintaining proper position of the swinging article with respect to the ground. Indeed, the attachment portions permit a user, for example a homeowner interested in saving garden space, to pass a swing element such as a rope therethrough to suspend the article from a supporting structure and to position the article with respect to the ground and the supporting structure, to permit swinging movement of the article and to provide the appearance of a figure in a hammock.

The body comprises at least one figure that is connected to or integrally formed with the base member. The figure can include any type of animal or animals (such as bears, cats, squirrels, frogs, bunnies, fish, birds, etc), any type of figure(s) (such as gnomes, elves, a Franciscan friar, a college mascot, etc.) and/or any type of decorative scene or statue (such as a Cupid, or a famous re-creation such as Michelangelo's David) disposed within the swinging article.

The swinging article also includes a swing element for suspending the article from the supporting structure, such as a post, a tree, a hook, a patio railing, a fence or a trellis. The swing element passes through each of the first and second attachment portions to permit swinging movement of the article, the base, the body. Preferably, the swing element is configured to provide the appearance of a figure in a hammock. The swing element may comprise one or more ropes, chains, cords, straps and/or cables or similar articles.

The present invention also provides, in part, a method for providing the appearance of a figure in a hammock. The method can include providing a swinging article comprising a base member in the form of a hammock, the base member including a first attachment portion, a second attachment portion and an area for receiving a body extending therebetween, wherein each of the first and second attachment portions are substantially tubular; providing at least one swing element for suspending the article from the supporting structure, the at least one swing element comprising at least one of a rope, a cable, a cord and combinations thereof; and passing the at least one swing element through each of the first and second attachment portions and suspending the swing element on the supporting structure to permit swinging movement of the article and to provide the appearance of a figure in a hammock.

Accordingly, it can be an objective of the present invention to provide in part, a swinging article of manufacture which may be suspended from a variety of available structures, so that they may be used by homeowners, for example, to give a different look to gardens, patios, and backyards with limited space and without damaging plants or taking up soil space where flowers or other desirable plants would otherwise grow.

It can also be an objective of the present invention to provide such an article of manufacture which permits the person suspending the article, even if not skilled, to obtain a secure support for the article and a level relationship of the article to the ground. It is a further objective of the present invention to provide such an article which permits adjustment of the distance from which the article is suspended without removal of the article from the post, tree or other object from which it is suspended.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects and features of the present invention become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It should be understood, however, that the drawings are designed for the purpose of illustration only and not as a definition of the limits of the invention.

In the drawings, wherein similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention wherein the swinger article is a figure of a bear sleeping in a hammock;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the swinger article illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the swinger article illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the swinger article illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 3;

FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view of the swinger article illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4, taken along the line 5-5 in FIG. 3, showing a detailed view of an attachment portion of the base member and the swing element disposed therein;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the swinger article illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 5 having a swing element comprising a rope, the swinger article shown swingably positioned on a fixture;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the swinger article illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 5 having a swing element comprising two ropes, the swinger article shown swingably positioned on a tree limb; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of additional embodiments of the invention in which the base member may be in the form of a swing and wherein the figure is in the shape of two bears, a pair of kittens, and a Franciscan Friar.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 through 7 illustrate one embodiment of a swinger article 30 which is consistent with the teachings of the present invention. It will be readily recognized that although the present invention is illustrated and described with respect to a body, such as an animal disposed in a hammock, the present invention can include any type of animal or animals (such as bears, cats, squirrels, frogs, bunnies, fish, birds, etc), any type of figure(s) (such as gnomes, elves, a Franciscan friar, a college mascot, etc.) and/or any type of decorative scene or statue (such as a Cupid, or a famous re-creation such as Michelangelo's David) disposed within a swinging article. Further, while the figure is illustrated lying in a hammock, the present invention can include the figure in any physical position (standing, sitting, sleeping, etc.) disposed within any type of device, such as a swing, a rocking chair, a lawn chair, a beach towel and/or any such type of garden device.

Turning now in detail to the drawings, a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a swinger article 30 includes a base member 32, a body 34 in the shape of a figure, for example, a bear formed in a sleeping position, and a swing element 36, such as a rope or ropes, secured to the base member 32 for swingably engaging the swinger article 30 to a tree 20 or other stationary fixture 25 (as shown in FIGS. 6 through 8).

Referring to FIGS. 2 through 5, in addition to FIG. 1, the base member 32 is most preferably formed in the shape of a hammock, having a substantially arcuate cross-section or shape. The base member 32 comprises a top surface, indicated generally at 38, a bottom surface, indicated generally at 40, a front side, indicated generally at 42 and a back side, indicated generally at 44. The base member 32 also includes first and second lateral side ends, indicated generally at 46 and 48, respectively, that are substantially transverse to the front and back sides of the base member 32. As best illustrated in FIG. 2, the ends 46 and 48 extend upwardly and outwardly from the lowermost portion 33 of the base member 32 to help provide the base member 32 with a hammock-shaped appearance. As best shown in FIG. 4, in the most preferred embodiment, each of the side ends 46 and 48 are tapered, such that each of the ends 46 and 48 has a top portion 47 that is narrower in width than the width of bottom portion 49, which may assist in proper orientation of the hammock-shaped base when the article is secured to a tree or fixture.

A support area 50, defined by the front and back sides 42 and 44, the ends 46 and 48 and the top surface 38 of the base member 32, provides a space in which the body 34 is positioned and/or integrally formed. The base member 32 may also include gathers, ridges, fringes, markings or other indicia 51 on any one or more of its surfaces to assist in forming the base member 32 in the shape of a hammock.

Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 8, the base member 32 may be formed in any type of shape including a swing, a beach towel and/or any similar type of garden furniture or device, as will be well known to those skilled in the art.

As illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5, each of the ends 46 and 48 of the base member 32 includes an attachment mechanism or portion 52 and 54, respectively, for functionally engaging the base member 32 to the swing element 36. The attachment portions 52 and 54 are preferably substantially tubular, having first and second apertures 56 and 58 and a conduit portion or passage 60 extending therebetween. As best shown in FIG. 4, the length L of each of the passages 60 (i.e. the distance between the first and second apertures 56 and 58 of the attachment portion) is preferably less than the distance D between the front and back sides 42 and 44 of the base member, in order to facilitate orientation of the swinger article 30 with respect to the ground, and to provide the illusion or appearance of an animal swinging in a hammock.

Preferably, the attachment portions 52 and 54 are integrally formed with the base member 32; however, it will be appreciated that the attachment portions 52 and 54 may be attached or otherwise secured to each of the ends 46 and 48 of the base member 32.

As best illustrated in FIG. 5, the first and second apertures 56, 58 of each of the attachment portions 52, 54 are coaxially oriented. In the embodiment shown, each of the passages 60 includes a ridge portion 62. As will be recognized by those skilled in the art, the size (e.g. circumference) of each of the apertures 56, 58, the length and circumference of each of the passages 60 and the length of ridge portion 62 are a matter of design choice and may be dictated by the type of swing element 36 utilized, the size and shape of the base member 32 and/or the size and shape of the body 34.

Turning again to FIG. 2, it can be seen that preferably, the attachment portion 52 on the end 46 and the attachment portion 54 on the end 48 are substantially coplanar, i.e. disposed in substantially the same horizontal plane such that each of the attachment portions 52 and 54 are positioned at approximately the same vertical elevation above the ground when the swinger article 30 of the present invention is installed in a relatively level manner on a tree or fixture. The distance between the attachment portion 52 and the attachment portion 54 can depend on the size of the swinger article 30 and/or the type of swing element 36 utilized, provided the configuration of the attachment portions 52 and 54 permit the swinger article 30 to achieve a substantially level relationship with respect to the ground (e.g. the figure of the bear is properly oriented in a substantially level reclined position).

In certain other embodiments, the article 30 may be configured such that either the attachment portion 52 or the attachment portion 54 is positioned at a higher or lower elevation relative to the other, depending on the type of base member 32 configuration and/or type of tree or figure onto which the article will be attached.

Consistent with the broader aspects of the present invention, the attachment portions 52 and 54 can be in any shape known to those skilled in the art, including formed in the shape of a hook, hanger, loop, and/or hole or aperture in each of the ends 46 and 48 of the base member. Further, where the attachment portions 52 and 54 are not integrally formed with the base member 32, the attachment portions 52 and 54 can include any type of attachment mechanism known to those skilled in the art, such as fasteners, hooks, hangers, loops or any other mechanism for functionally engaging the base member 32 to the swing element 36.

Preferably, the body 34 is an animal, such as a bear. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3, the body 34 includes a head 70, torso 72, arms 74 and legs 76, with an arm 74 hanging over the front side 42 of the base member 32 and a leg 76 hanging over the rear side 44 of the base member 32. As described previously, the body 34 can be formed in the shape or likeness of any one or more animals, persons, fictional characters, plants and/or ornamental designs known to those skilled in the art. When the body 34 is in the form of an animal or person, the body/bodies can be disposed in any position within the base member 32, such as in a standing, sleeping, relaxing, sitting and/or a dancing position—as a matter of taste and/or design choice. Depending on the physical position of the body 34, the body 34 may additionally include portions 80 and 82, such as apertures or holes that also and/or alternatively functionally engage the swing element 36, as shown in FIG. 8.

In highly preferred embodiments of the present invention, the appearance of a figure disposed within a hammock is provided by forming the base member 32 and the body 34 of article 30 as a unitary structure, hand cast or formed from concrete or concrete derivatives. In certain other embodiments, the base member 32 and the body 34 are separate structures secured together by any means known to those skilled in the art including, but not limited to, fastening devices (clamps, staples, screws, nails, etc.), adhesives and/or welding.

Preferably, the base member 32 and the body 34 of the swinger article 30 and/or portions thereof are hand cast from a cement derivative so that it is weather resistant. Alternately, the base member 32 and the body 34 may be formed from wood, plastic, ceramic, aluminum, resin or other suitable preferably light weight and inexpensive material. For example, the article 30 may be formed from pre-cast gypsum plaster. In addition, the base member 32 and the body 34 may be formed of different materials. In addition, the base member 32 and/or the body 34 of the article 30 may be finished with any acrylic paint, outdoor paint, water-based glaze or glitter or finished with a variety of material and techniques including marbleizing, antiquing, stone texturing, crackle finishing, wood finishing, metallic finishing, gold leafing and patinas. In addition, the article 30 may be left unfinished.

The base member 32 and the body 34 may be of any size desired or dictated by the end use application of the swinger article 30. For example, if the swinger article 30 is intended to be hung from a tree, the base member 32 and body 34 may be of a larger size than a swinger article 30 intended to be hung from a hook or hanger attached to the user's home. In addition, the base member 32 and the body 34 may be sized according to the type of base member 32 (e.g. a hammock versus a chair or swing), the type of body (e.g. a bear versus a mouse), the number of bodies 34 disposed on the base member 32, and/or the type of swing element 36 utilized. As such, the height, length and width dimensions of the article 30 and the weight of the article 30 can be a matter of design choice.

Turning next to FIGS. 6 and 7, in addition to FIGS. 1 through 6, the swing element 36 is configured to permit swinging movement of article 30 when suspended from tree limbs, wrought iron shepherds hooks, doorways, trellises, porches, patios, posts or other supporting structure or fixture. In the most preferred embodiment, the swing element 36 comprises a rope 83 having an end 84 which first passes through the aperture 56, the passage 60 and the aperture 58 of the attachment portion 52 on the end 46, and then extends over the tree 20 or fixture 25, and then passes through the aperture 56, the passage 60 and the aperture 58 of the attachment portion 54 on the end 48 of the article 30. The swing element 36 is then tied in a knot 85 at a second end 86 to the first end 84, as illustrated in FIG. 6.

Accordingly, as illustrated in FIG. 5, the swing element 36, once threaded through the attachment portions 52 and 54, respectively, will also contain a substantially horizontal portion 88, which helps to maintain the swinger article 30 at a substantially level relationship with respect to the ground (e.g. the figure of the bear is properly oriented in a substantially level reclined position) and thus, in proper position for swinging from the tree and/or fixture. In addition, since the rope 83 is movably positioned through each of the attachment portions 52 and 54, the elevation and position of the article with respect to the ground can be adjusted by moving the rope 83 within the attachment portions. For example, the elevation and position of the end 46 of the article 30 may be adjusted with respect to the elevation and position of the end 48 of the article 30 by providing a shorter length in one or more of the portions of the rope 83 (i.e. 83a, 83b, 83c and/or 83d, as shown in FIG. 6) on one of the two ends 46 and 48, thereby adjusting the tension in one or more portions of the rope.

In an alternative embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 7, the swing element 36 comprises two ropes 90 and 92. Rope 90 passes through the aperture 56, the passage 60 and the aperture 58 of the attachment portion 52 on the end 46 of the swinger article 30 and then extends over the tree 20 or fixture 25 and is secured or tied in a knot 94 at its respective ends. Likewise, rope 92 passes through the aperture 56, the passage 60 and the aperture 58 of the attachment portion 54 on the end 48 of the swinger article 30 and then extends over the tree 20 or fixture 25 and is secured or tied in a knot 96 at its respective ends. As such, the elevation and position of the article with respect to the ground can be adjusted by changing the length and/or positions of at least one of the ropes 90 and 92 by tying the knots 94 and 96 when the article 30 is in the desired position—effectively shortening the length of the ropes. Further, as illustrated in FIG. 8, the swing element 36 may be arranged so that each end is secured around the tree 20.

It will be appreciated that the swing element 36 can comprise one or more ropes, strings, cords, cables and/or any hanging means known to those skilled in the art that can be used to functionally engage the attachment portions 52 and 54 of the swinger article 30 to a tree 20 or other fixture 25. The swing element 36 may be constructed of a natural fiber and/or metal or thermoplastic, depending on the desired appearance or end-use application of the swinger article 30. For example, in certain embodiments, the swing element 36 may comprise one or more electric cables that provide electricity to the base member 32, the body 34 and/or a light fixture affixed to the article 30 to provide illumination to a patio or garden.

When thus suspended by swing element 36 which allows for movement, base member 32, body 34 and swing element 36 provide the illusion or appearance of an animal or other figure swinging in a hammock.

By the use of the invention, a person suspending the article, even if not skilled, is able to obtain a secure support for the article simply by looping the rope, cord, metal cable or other swing element 36 over an available structure, such as a tree branch, and obtain a level relationship of the article to the ground. The distance from which the article is suspended may be readily and easily adjusted without removal of the article from the tree or post, for example by simply adjusting the length (and tension) in the swing element 36, or in certain other embodiments, by adjusting the length of the ropes 90 and 92, enabling the article to be placed at different levels.

By suspending the article from a supporting structure, homeowners may use the article to give a different look to gardens, patios, and backyards with limited space and without damaging plants or taking up soil space where plants would otherwise grow or patio space where planters or other articles would otherwise be placed. The invention also provides a unique way to display outdoor statuary.

The swinging motion may have the advantage of serving to repel animals and birds from approaching a garden. For example, the motion of a figure in the shape of an owl may be used to scare away birds for whom owls are natural predators. Even if the figure is in the shape of another animal or figure, the motion may cause animals such as birds to fear that danger exists in approaching the backyard.

While several embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it is to be understood that many changes and modifications may be made thereunto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.