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Title:
Drinking glass with a removable magnetic marker
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Drinking glasses are used to drink water and wine. A glass has a cup and a base. A wine glass has a cup portion, a stem and a circular base. A magnet that is attached to the drinking glass. A marker has a magnet and an ornamental side. The marker is held in place against an outer surface of the glass by the magnetic attraction of the cup magnet and the marker magnet.


Inventors:
Towery, Mark (San Francisco, CA, US)
Miller, Leslie (Saratoga, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/606426
Publication Date:
06/05/2008
Filing Date:
11/30/2006
Assignee:
Formation, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G19/22
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DERGOSITS & NOAH LLP (FOUR EMBARCADERO CENTER, SUITE 1450, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 94111, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drinking glass comprising: a cup having an inner surface for containing a beverage and an outer surface; a cup magnet that is attached to the cup; and a marker that includes a marker magnet; wherein the marker is attached the outer surface of the cup by a magnetic attraction of the marker magnet to the cup magnet.

2. The drinking glass of claim 1 wherein the cup magnet has a thickness less than ¼ inch.

3. The drinking glass of claim 1 wherein the marker magnet has a thickness less than ¼ inch.

4. The drinking glass of claim 1 further comprising; an indentation in the outer surface of the cup; and an external feature of the marker; wherein the external feature of the marker engages the indentation when the marker is held against the outer surface of the cup.

5. The drinking glass of claim 4 wherein the feature of the marker is a protrusion.

6. The drinking glass of claim 1 wherein the cup magnet is mounted in or below an indentation in the outer surface of the cup.

7. The drinking glass of claim 1 wherein the cup magnet is embedded within the cup.

8. The drinking glass of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of cup magnets that are attached to the cup.

9. A drinking glass comprising: a cup having an inner surface for containing a beverage and an outer surface; a stem that is attached to the bottom of the cup; a base that is attached to the bottom of the stem; and a cup magnet that is attached to the cup, the stem or the base; and a marker having a marker magnet; wherein the marker is attached to the drinking glass by the magnetic attraction of the marker magnet and the cup magnet.

10. The drinking glass of claim 9 wherein the cup magnet is mounted in or below an indentation in the outer surface of the cup.

11. The drinking glass of claim 9 wherein the cup magnet is embedded within the cup.

12. The drinking glass of claim 9 further comprising a plurality of cup magnets that are attached to the cup.

13. A drinking glass comprising: a cup having an inner surface for containing a beverage and an outer surface; a magnetic material that is attached to the cup; and a marker that includes a marker magnet; wherein the marker is attached to the outer surface of the cup by a magnetic attraction of the marker magnet to the magnetic material.

14. The drinking glass of claim 13 wherein the magnetic material has a thickness less than ¼ inch.

15. The drinking glass of claim 13 wherein the magnetic material has a thickness less than ¼ inch.

16. The drinking glass of claim 13 further comprising; an indentation in the outer surface of the cup; and an external feature of the marker; wherein the external feature of the marker engages the indentation when the marker is held against the outer surface of the cup.

17. The drinking glass of claim 13 wherein the feature of the marker is a protrusion.

18. The drinking glass of claim 17 wherein the magnetic material is mounted in or below an indentation in the outer surface of the cup.

19. The drinking glass of claim 13 wherein the magnetic material is embedded within the cup.

20. The drinking glass of claim 13 further comprising a plurality of magnetic material pieces that are attached to the cup.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Drinking glasses have been in existence for many years. Various shapes of drinking glasses have been used for specific types of beverages. Water, sodas, milk and juice are typically poured into glasses that typically have a flat base and cylindrical body that maximizes the volume of liquid that can be contained. The cross section of the glass is typically circular but may be any other geometric shape. The sidewalls may be straight or curved. In contrast, a wine glass has a very different shape because it is used to drink and taste wine. The wine glass has a smaller volume than a drinking glass. The base is a circular disk that is coupled to the rounded cup with a thin stem. The shape of the cup is designed to concentrate the aroma or bouquet of the wine making it easier to distinguish the varietals' characteristics. The wine glass is typically made from blown glass.

Many glasses are designed for specific types of wines. Glasses for red wine are characterized by their rounder, wider cup, which gives the wine a chance the breath. Bordeaux glasses are tall with a wide cup for full-bodied red wines such as Cabernet and Merlot. Burgundy glasses are larger than Bordeaux glasses with a larger bowl for more delicate wines such as Pinot Noir. White wine glasses are narrower than red wine glasses and champagne flutes are narrower than white wine glasses. White wines and champagnes are intended to be served chilled, and these narrower glasses help to retain the cooler temperature. There are other glasses having shapes for port, sparkling wine, brandy, liqueur, cocktail and water.

A problem with both drinking and wine glasses is that they are typically bought in sets that look identical. While this identical appearance is aesthetically pleasing, it is very easy to set a drinking glass down and not be able to distinguish one glass from another. With plastic cups, a marker can be used to write the user's name on the outer surface. However, most people would prefer to drink from a glass cup.

A device used for identifying wine glasses is a stem tag that is secured to the stem of each glass. Each glass is marked with a different tag, and each tag has a distinct pattern. A user can identify his or her glass by remembering the appearance of the stem tag. While the wine glass tags are useful, they must be removed before the glasses are washed and are easily lost once they are removed from the glasses. A problem with these tags is that they can be fragile and difficult to secure around the stems of the wine glasses.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The inventive drinking cup marking system includes a cup that has an integrated magnet and a magnetic marker. The user attaches the magnetic marker to the cup while it is being used so that the cup can easily identified. The markers may be informational as well as ornamental. After use, the magnetic markers can be removed so that the glasses can be washed.

The magnets may be attached to any part of the glasses. For normal drinking glasses, the magnets may be mounted anywhere close to the outer surface but may be at least an inch below the rim to avoid potential contact with the user's mouth. For wine glasses, the magnets may be mounted on the cup portion, the base or the stem.

The user may select the marker(s) based upon the use of the inventive cup. For example, the markers may identify the beverage, identify the user of the cup, correspond to an interest or a holiday, etc. The markers may vary in shape, color and pattern. It is desirable to mount the marker onto the cup and have it stay in place while in use. In order to avoid accidentally knocking the markers off of the cup, the markers may be flat structures that resemble small buttons. As discussed, the markers may have ornamental or functional markings such as letters or words.

To further improve the adhesion of the marker to the cup, indentations may be formed in the cup to secure a portion of the marker in place. In an embodiment, the marker has a specific shape and the cup has a corresponding indentation that engages the outer edges of the marker. For example, if the marker is circular, the cup may have a corresponding circular indentation. When the marker is attached to the cup, the edges of the indentation will engage the outer diameter of the marker to prevent the marker from being moved across the surface of the cup. Thus, the marker may only be pulled straight off the cup surface.

In other embodiments, various other combinations of markers and cup magnets may be used. In an embodiment, the cup may have a protrusion that engages a hole or indentation in the marker. In yet another embodiment, the indentation or protrusion may correspond to a non-circular feature that prevents the rotation of the marker. For example, the cup may have a rectangular indentation that engages the edges of a rectangular marker. The outer surface of the marker may be flush with the outer surface of the cup or protrude slightly.

To further improve the adhesion of the marker to the cup, the magnetic markers may have a surface that corresponds to the mounting surface on the glass. A marker may have a curved surface that corresponds to the curvature of the glass. The radius of curvature may correspond to the cup feature. A marker that is used with a magnet in the stem of a wine glass will have a smaller radius curvature than a marker that is attached to the base or cup portions of the glass.

In an embodiment, the magnets used with the system are Ceramic (ferrite) magnets that are composed of strontium carbonate and iron oxide. If magnets are used in both the cup and marker, the polarity orientation of the magnets must be properly aligned. Magnets have a negative pole and a positive pole, and each pole is attracted to the opposite pole of other magnets. Thus, if the negative pole of the cup magnet faces out, the marker magnet should be oriented with the positive pole facing in.

Although the system has been described as a magnet in the cup and a magnetic marker, it is also possible to use metals that are magnetically attracted such as steel or iron, nickel, cobalt and other ferromagnetic materials. Thus, the present invention will be functional if the glass has a piece of steel and the marker has a magnet. The inventive system will also work if a magnet may be attached to the glass and the marker has a magnetic metal.

The magnets attached to the cup may be small ceramic magnets or iron oxide magnets. In other embodiments, the magnets may be a fine iron oxide powder that is mixed with the glass used to make the cup. This mixture creates a translucent magnetic surface. Because beverage containers are typically made of a transparent or translucent material, the powdered magnetic material is less apparent to the eye.

There are various ways to attach the magnets to the drinking glasses. In an embodiment, the magnets may be simply attached to a surface of the container. The attachment mechanism may be an adhesive or the cup material may be partially melted to bond the magnet. To help retain the magnet, a bore or a through hole may be formed in the cup and the magnet may be bonded within the bore or through hole. The magnet may be mounted flush with the outer surface of the cup or it may be mounted below the surface. If the magnet is mounted below the surface, the marker magnet may also fit within the bore so that edges of the marker may fit within the hole to prevent accidental removal.

The base has a lower planar surface that allows the glass to sit upright when placed on a planar surface. The base is typically a circular member that has a lower fitting. The upper and lower fitting engages a rod that functions as the stem of the drinking glass. In an embodiment, the magnets may be mounted in the stem or base. These areas may be preferable because they are away from the beverage-containing portion of the drinking glass.

The markers can be ornamental and have a variety of shapes, patterns, colors and finishes. The markers may also be informational and have a plurality of alpha-numeric characters. Multiple magnets may be attached to the cup so that multiple markers can be placed on the cup. The markers are interchangeable which allows the user to create glasses that are distinct and individually identifiable. Each of the glasses may have a marker indicating the person using the glass. It is also possible for users to create temporary monogram lettering for the guests. Alternatively, the markers may be color coded to indicate the guest or the type of beverage served in the glass. The inventive drinking glass may be sold in a gift box and may include one or more beverage glasses and a set of markers. Additional markers can be purchased that have different designs so that the glasses can be used for different occasions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of a wine glass embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of a drinking glass embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view of a drinking glass embodiment with markers;

FIG. 4 is a side view of a drinking glass having multiple magnets;

FIG. 5a is a side view of a wine glass having with a marker attached to the stem; and

FIG. 5b is a cross section top view of the stem and marker.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to FIG. 1, the present invention is a wine glass that has a cup 103, stem 107 and base 111. The upper portion of the cup 103 has a circular opening with a thin rounded lip and a thin wall section. The top of the stem 107 is attached to the bottom of the cup 103, and the bottom of the stem is attached to the base 111. The base 111 is a circular structure. The cup 103, stem 107 and base 111 are preferably made of clear glass. Although the drinking glasses are described as being made of glass, in other embodiments the drinking glasses may be made of metal, ceramic, plastic, wood or composite materials.

The glass illustrated in FIG. 1 also includes a plurality of magnets 131 that indicates some of the possible locations for the magnets. In an embodiment, the magnets 131 may be located around the perimeter of the cup 103. The magnets 131 may also be located in the stem 107 and base 111. The magnets 131 in the stem may be cylindrical while the magnets 131 in the cup and base may be more planar in design. In an embodiment, the magnets 131 in the cup 103 are located on the outer surface of the cup 103, partially embedded in the cup 103 or fully embedded in the cup 103.

Various types of permanent magnets or magnetic materials may be attached to the cup and used to attach the markers. The permanent magnetic materials include rare earth magnets, ceramic magnets and alnico magnets. Rare earth magnets include: neodymium-iron-boron and samarium-cobalt. Ceramic magnets are typically made of a ceramic material that includes magnetic iron oxides. Plastic magnets are made of a non-metallic polymer which is a combination of polyaniline and tetracyanoquinodimethane.

Alnico magnets are made by casting or a combination of aluminum, nickel and cobalt with iron and small amounts of other elements added to enhance the properties of the magnet. Sintering offers superior mechanical characteristics, whereas casting delivers higher magnetic fields and allows for the design of intricate shapes that may allow for easier attachment to the cup. Alnico magnets also resist corrosion and have physical properties more forgiving than ferrite.

In an embodiment, a magnetic material in a powdered form may be mixed with polymer resins so that they can be injection molded into any desired shape or into the cup itself. The injection molding process involves injecting the magnetic material in the resin into a mold and letting the resin harden into the shape of the mold. The finished produce will be magnetic and have the physical properties of a plastic material. In an alternative embodiment, the magnetic materials may be mixed with glass that is then formed into a drinking cup.

Flexible magnets may also be formed that are similar to injection molded magnets, using a flexible resin or binder such as vinyl, and produced in flat strips or sheets. These magnets are very flexible and therefore may be more easily attached to the cup. Because the cups are generally made of a very thin material, it may be desirable to have very thin magnetic materials attached to the cups. In the preferred embodiment, the magnets or magnetic materials attached to the cup should be less than ¼ inch thick.

In yet another embodiment, an electromagnet may be attached to the cup which includes wires wrapped in a coil and battery to supply current. The battery may be a conventional battery, rechargable battery or even a solar cell that is able to convert ambient light into electricity.

In other embodiments a magnetic material, rather than a permanent magnet, is attached to the cup. The material is not normally magnetic but is attracted to permanent magnets. In this embodiment, the marker has a magnet that is attracted to the magnetic material attached to the cup. The magnetic material may be a metal that contains iron, steel or any other material that is magnetically attracted to a magnetic field.

The magnets 131 may be attached to an outer surface of the glass with an adhesive such as epoxies, thermoplastics, pressure-sensitive adhesives, chemical bonding polymers or other glass adhesives. The magnets 131 may also be covered with a protective material that isolates the material from water or other beverage. Because many magnets include iron oxide, there is a tendency for the magnets to rust. The potential rust issue maybe prevented by applying a protective coating so that the water cannot contact the iron oxide.

Alternatively, the magnets 131 may be embedded within the cup material. More specifically, the magnets may be inserted into the glass as the cup is being made. If the magnets 131 are embedded, the cup materials will cover the magnets 131 and prevent contact with water and rust. In an embodiment, the magnets attached to the cup may be an iron oxide powder. In this embodiment, the magnetic powder may be mixed with the glass or plastic used to make the cup or a layer of the cup so that the finished cup is magnetic. Because the magnetic powder is very fine the resulting cup may be translucent.

In the preferred embodiment, the markers are small flat ornamental pieces that are attached to magnets or magnetic materials. The marker may have two sides—a magnetic side, which has the magnetic material, and the outer ornamental side. The magnetic side of the marker may include any of the magnetic materials described above. Because the markers are typically being attached to convex surfaces, the magnetic side may be concave so that the outer edges of the marker contact the cup. For example, if the markers are being used with a cylindrical cup, the inner surface may have a cylindrical concave surface that is similar in shape. If the marker is used on the cup portion of a wine glass, the magnetic surface may be a spherical concave surface to match the outer cup surface.

The outer portion of the marker may be ornamental. An infinite number of designs and finishes are possible. In an embodiment, the ornamental sides of the markers may resemble a colored circular bead. Each glass may be marked with a different colored bead so that each can be distinguished. In other embodiments, the markers may have different shapes such as squares, rectangles, triangles, ovals, etc. The markers are preferably flat so that they are less likely to be knocked off of the glass; however, they may also have three-dimensional shapes such as domes, pyramids, cubes, etc., that protrude away from the surface of the glass.

In addition to different colors, the markers have specific patterns, letters or numerals. The markings can be printed or permanently formed in the surface of the bead. For example, the markers may be embossed or the markings may be protrusions formed on the bead surface. The letters can be used to create monogram drinking glasses for each of the users. Similarly, the markers can be numbered or have a combination of numbers and letters.

The appearance of the markers can be purely ornamental or used for identification of the glass. The ability to identify a wine glass is particularly useful during parties with a number of guests. Each guest may be given a glass with a specific markers that indicates the guest's name or initials. Because the glass has a specific marker, the guest will be able to set the glass down and then identify the glass from all other glasses.

The color and shape of the markers may also allow for visual identification for a wine tasting party. While wine glasses with the same cup portion may be used to serve both Cabernets and Merlots, the marker text or pattern may allow guests to distinguish the Cabernets and Merlots. The markers may also allow guests to distinguish various brands of a specific type of wine or to distinguish different varietals for tasting comparison purposes.

The interchangeably of the markers with regard to the color, shape and material allows for an infinite combination of appearances. In order to improve the interchangeability of the markers, the size of the magnets may be uniform. For example, the magnet may be a ¼ inch diameter circle that is ⅛ inch thick and the marker may also have a ¼ inch diameter magnet. The attraction force of the marker to the magnet is related to the distance between the magnets. The marker will be highly attracted to the surface of the magnet while there will be less of a magnetic force if the marker is separated from the magnet. For the best magnetic adhesion, the marker magnet and the drinking glass magnet should be in close proximity and may be the same size. A strong magnetic force will keep the marker in a specific location. If the magnet in the glass and the marker magnet are different sizes, the magnetic fields are not aligned and the placement of the marker is less precise.

The force produced between two magnets may be defined by the formula:


F=(μ)(m1)(m2)/4πr2

Where F is the attractive force, m1 is the pole strength of the first magnet, m2 is the pole strength of the second magnet, μ is the permeability of the intervening medium (glass or air) and r is the separation of the magnets.

The magnets may be attached to the cup, stem or base of the beverage container. In an embodiment, the magnets are embedded into the partially melted glass or plastic. Alternatively, the magnet is placed under the base. If the base is opaque, the magnet will not be visible. In an embodiment, the magnets may be used to create a design around an outer diameter of the drinking glass. Multiple cup magnets would allow a plurality of markers to be arranged around a diameter of the cup portion of the glass or in a ring around the base.

It should be noted that certain magnets may contain iron oxide, which may be prone to rusting when exposed to water or other liquids. Thus, the magnets should be separated from the liquid contained in the cup. Further, to avoid rust during washing, the magnet may be sealed in a waterproof manner. The magnetic particles may be encased in a plastic material or sealed within the glass or plastic of the beverage container. The protective layer may be a transparent or opaque coating of paint or plastic.

In an embodiment, the magnet is embedded within the cup material. By inserting the magnets during manufacturing, they may be fully encased within the glass or plastic. In order for the magnets to fit into the cup material, thin magnets should be used and placed in a thick portion of the cup. In another embodiment, the magnet may be a plurality of small or fine magnetic particles that are mixed with the cup material. Because the particles are not a unitary piece, the magnetic particles are less noticeable in a transparent or translucent cup or glass.

In an embodiment, the attachment surface of the cup or glass may have special features that enhance the attachment of the marker. In an embodiment, the glass has an indentation that matches a corresponding feature on the marker. By coupling the features of the glass and marker, the marker is more securely attached to the glass. With reference to FIG. 2, various possible coupling features on a glass are illustrated. The front and side views for each coupling system are shown. The magnet 211 is square in shape and mounted at the bottom of a square hole 213. A marker that has a corresponding square shape can be placed at least partially in the hole 213. Because the sides of the marker engage the sides of the hole 213, the marker can only be removed by pulling straight away from the cup 201. The engagement of the features causes the marker to resist being displaced by side forces that are applied to the marker.

Magnet 221 is a circular magnet that protrudes from the glass 201. A marker placed on the magnet 221 may have a circular indentation that engages the outer edges of the magnet 221. The engagement of the outer edge of the magnet 221 and the inner edge of the marker prevents horizontal movement and helps to keep the marker in the proper place on the glass 201. Magnet 231 is a circular magnet mounted at the bottom of a square hole 233 or indentation. A marker having a square magnetic side that corresponds to the hole is attached to the glass. Magnet 241 is a circular magnet at the bottom of a round hole 243 that should be used with a marker having a corresponding round magnetic side. An advantage of the square shape of the hole 233 is that it prevents the marker from rotating. In contrast, the round hole 243 would allow a marker to rotate.

Magnet 251 is a circular magnet mounted below a rectangular hole 253. In this embodiment, the magnet 251 is fully embedded within the glass material that isolates the magnet from water and other elements. Thus, the marker may be attracted to the magnet 251 but will not make any contact. The rectangular hole will also prevent a marker with a corresponding magnet side from rotating. Magnet 261 is an annular magnet that has a center hole 263. The marker may have a center pin that fits in the center hole 263 and a magnet that is attracted to the magnet 261 to hold the marker in place.

FIG. 3 illustrates some exemplary markers that are attached to a glass 300. Magnet 301 is a circular magnet mounted at the bottom of a circular hole 303. The marker 305 has a corresponding circular magnet 307 that fits within the hole 303. The marker 305 may have a circular ornamental side 309 that has the letter “M.” Magnet 311 is mounted within the glass 300 to isolate the magnet 311 but does not have any features to hold the marker 315 in place. The marker 315 has a magnet 317 that is flush with the back of the marker 315. The ornamental side 319 is marked with the letter “T.” Magnet 321 is mounted within the protective glass 300 and has a corresponding square hole 333. The marker 335 has a magnet 337 is also square and fits within the hole 333 but cannot rotate. The engagement of the magnet 337 and the hole 333 helps to keep the marker 335 in place. The ornamental side is 339 is square with rounded edges and is marked with the letter “L.”

Magnet 341 is mounted at the bottom of a square hole 343. A square marker 345 has a magnet 347 and fits within the hole 343. The marker 345 may be nearly flush with the outer surface of the glass 300. The ornamental side of the marker 345 may be curved to match the outer glass surface and has the letter “M.” Magnet 351 is mounted on the surface of the glass 300. The marker 355 has a magnet 357 and a recessed hole 353. When the marker 355 is attached to the glass 300, the magnet 351 fits within the recessed hole 353. Magnet 361 is also attached to the outer surface of the glass 300. The marker 365 has a magnet 367. When the marker 365 is attached to the magnet 361, the marker 365 is attached to the glass 300 but not in direct contact because the magnet 361 holds it away from the outer surface.

With reference to FIG. 4, the glass 401 may have multiple magnets 405 that are used to secure a single flexible marker 407. In this embodiment, the marker 407 is a flexible strip that wraps around a cylindrical portion of the cup 401. Because the marker 407 is fairly large, multiple magnets are needed to secure it to the glass 401. In an embodiment, the marker 407 is made of a plastic magnetic material that is flexible. Thus, the entire marker 407 will be attracted to the magnets 405 in the glass 401 and precise alignment of the marker 407 is not required.

With reference to FIG. 5a, a wine glass 501 having magnets 511 in the stem 503 is illustrated. In this embodiment, a marker 515 has a magnet 517 and an inner curvature that is designed to fit partially around the stem 503. The upper marker 515 shows a front view and the lower marker 515 shows a side view in which the sides of the marker wrap partially around the stem 503. FIG. 5b illustrates a top view cross section of the marker 515 and shows the inner curvature 519 that corresponds to the outer diameter of the stem 503. In an embodiment, the inner curvature of the marker 515 may be slightly smaller than the stem 503 diameter so that the marker holds the stem 503 tightly. The magnetic attraction holds the marker 515 against the stem 503 and prevents the marker from sliding up and down the stem 503.

In other embodiments, the stem 503 and marker 515 may have features that engage each other to resist movement of the marker 515. For example, the stem 503 may have edges that engage the upper and lower ends of the marker 515 and prevent it from sliding on the stem 503. In another embodiment, two or more markers may be attached around the magnet 517 of the stem 503. If two markers are used, they may each surround one half of the stem and may also be coupled to each other.

After the markers are used with the glasses, they should be removed before the glasses are cleaned and stored. The user can simply pull the markers away from the glasses and store the markers together. The ability to remove easily the marker from each glass allows for easy cleaning. With the markers removed, the glasses can be washed without the fear of loosing the markers down the sink drain or getting caught in the dish washer cleaning mechanisms.

In the foregoing, an interchangeable system of beads used as the stem of a drinking glass or the handle of an object has been described. Although the present invention has been described with reference to specific exemplary embodiments, it will be evident that various modifications and changes may be made to these embodiments without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the claims. Accordingly, the specification and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense.