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The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/263,731, filed on Nov. 23, 2009, the entirety of which is incorporated by this reference.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to hair barrettes and more specifically to a hair clasp that is configured for retaining fresh flowers.
2. State of the Art
It is very popular, especially in many island cultures, for women to wear fresh flowers in their hair. Typically, flowers are simply cut and placed in the hair. Unfortunately, such flowers do not last very long and tend to wilt rather quickly because of a lack of water. In addition, because the flowers are simply placed in the hair, they are easily dislodged and damaged or lost.
It would be desirable to provide a device for attaching fresh flowers to the hair that secures the flower to the hair to help prevent loss or damage to the flower and that provides a source of water to the flower to prolong the life of the flower without significantly wilting.
Accordingly, the present invention overcomes many of the deficiencies and disadvantages of the prior art by providing a hair clasp having a receptacle for receiving a stem of a flower, the receptacle being capable of retaining a quantity of water therein and an end cap that is secured to an open end of the receptacle and is configured for sealing against the flower stem to help prevent water from passing between the stem and the cap and to retain the flower within the receptacle. A clasp is attached to the receptacle for temporary attachment of the clasp to the hair of a user. An end cap is coupled to the open end of the elongated receptacle. The cap forms a substantially water tight seal between the open end of the receptacle and the cap and includes an interior flower stem retaining structure defining an aperture through the cap. The flower stem retaining structure is configured for gripping a flower stem to retain the flower stem within the receptacle and for forming at least a partial seal between the flower stem and the cap to help prevent water contained in the receptacle from passing between the cap and the flower stem.
In one embodiment, the elongate receptacle defines an inner groove proximate the open end thereof and the end cap includes an outer circumferential protrusion for engaging with the inner groove when the end cap is inserted within the receptacle to retain the end cap on the receptacle.
In another embodiment, the clasp comprises a first elongate prong and a second elongate prong, the first elongate prong having a plurality of teeth disposed thereon.
In yet another embodiment, a clasp retaining structure is integrally formed with the receptacle. The retaining structure defines at least one aperture oriented substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the receptacle. The plurality of teeth of the clasp engages with the clasp retaining structure.
In still another embodiment, the first and second prongs of the clasp are biased toward one another to grasp a lock of hair of a user.
In another embodiment, the end cap includes a plurality of inwardly extending and radially spaced tabs depending at an angle toward the closed end of the elongate receptacle. The plurality of radially spaced tabs defines an inner aperture within the end cap for receiving a flower stem there through.
In yet another embodiment, the plurality of tabs are formed of a flexible material so as to be inwardly biased to grip the sides of the flower stem inserted therein and for forming at least a partial water seal between the plurality of tabs and the flower stem to help prevent water contained in the receptacle from passing between the cap and the flower stem.
In still another embodiment, each of the plurality of tabs have a generally triangular shape with a base of the generally triangular shape depending from an inner surface of an outer wall of the end cap and the tip of the generally triangular shape extending toward a longitudinal center of the end cap.
In yet another embodiment, the plurality of tabs have inwardly extending sides that are substantially parallel to each adjacent tab of the plurality of tabs, with the tips of the plurality of tabs defining an inner aperture that is smaller in diameter than a diameter of the inner surface of the outer wall of the end cap.
In still another embodiment, the plurality of tabs are inwardly biased to be capable of gripping flower stems of various diameters from a flower stem diameter that is approximately equal to the diameter of the inner surface of the outer wall of the end cap to a flower stem diameter that is approximately equal to the diameter of the inner aperture.
In another embodiment, the clasp retaining structure defines a second clasp receiving aperture perpendicularly oriented relative to the at least one clasp receiving aperture for receiving the first prong of the first elongate prong therein.
The foregoing advantages and characterizing features will become apparent from the following description of certain illustrative embodiments of the invention. The above-described features and advantages of the present invention, as well as additional features and advantages, will be set forth or will become more fully apparent in the detailed description that follows and in the appended claims. The novel features which are considered characteristic of this invention are set forth in the attached claims. Furthermore, the features and advantages of the present invention may be learned by the practice of the invention, or will be obvious to one skilled in the art from the description, as set forth hereinafter.
The following drawings illustrate exemplary embodiments for carrying out the invention. Like reference numerals refer to like parts in different views or embodiments of the present invention in the drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective side view of a first embodiment of a flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of a receptacle and clasp for a flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C are perspective, cross-sectional side and front views, respectively, of an end cap for a flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a perspective side view of a second embodiment of a flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional side view of a third embodiment of a flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 6A is a cross-sectional side view of a receptacle and end cap of a flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 6 B is a front view of the receptacle illustrated in FIG. 6A.
FIG. 6C is a side view of a clasp for use with the flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 7 is an end view of the flower holder for hair attachment in accordance with the principles of the present invention with the clasp attached at an alternate orientation.
FIG. 8 is a partial cross-sectional side view of the flower holder for hair attachment illustrated in FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C.
FIG. 9 is a partial cross-sectional side view of the flower holder for hair attachment illustrated in FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C with the stem of a flower inserted therein.
FIG. 10 is a partial cross-sectional side view of the flower holder for hair attachment illustrated in FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C with the stem of a flower inserted therein.
Those of ordinary skill in the art will realize that the following description of the present invention is illustrative only and not in any way limiting. Other embodiments of the invention will readily suggest themselves to such skilled persons.
FIG. 1 illustrates a first embodiment of fresh flower retaining hair clasp, generally indicated at 10. The hair clasp includes an elongated receptacle 12 that forms a tube-like structure having an open end 14 and a closed end 16. An end cap 18 is coupled to the open end 14 of the receptacle 12. The end cap 18 forms a water-tight seal between the open end 14 of the receptacle 12 and an inside surface of the end cap 18. The end cap defines an aperture 20 that is substantially concentric with the outer perimeter of the end cap 18. A plurality of inwardly depending flanges or tabs 22 are attached to an inside surface of the cap 18 that defines the aperture 20. The tabs 22 are evenly and radially spaced around the aperture with their distal ends effectively forming a second aperture. The tabs 22 are inwardly angled toward the closed end 16 of the receptacle 12 and configured to grip a stem 24 of a flower 26 when inserted therethrough. A hair clasp 28 is longitudinally coupled to the receptacle 12. To couple the hair clasp 28 to the receptacle 12, a longitudinally extending clasp holder 30 is attached to an exterior surface of the receptacle 12. The holder 30 defines a longitudinally extending channel 32 for receiving a first lea 34 of the clasp 28 against the exterior surface of the receptacle 12. The hair clasp 28 includes a second leg 36 that is pivotally coupled to the first leg 34 and biased, as with a coil spring, toward the first leg 34. To open the clasp 28, the portion 38 of the second leg 36 that extends beyond the pivot point 40 is pressed toward the first leg 34 causing the second leg 36 to pivot about the pivot point 40 and thus increase the space between the opposite ends of the first and second legs 34 and 36, respectively. A lock of hair of the user can then be inserted between the open ends of the first and second legs 34 and 36, respectively. Releasing the portion 38 then causes the open ends of the first of second legs 34 and 36, respectively, to close toward one another thereby clamping the lock of hair there between.
In use, water is poured into the receptacle 12. The stem 24 of the flower 26 is inserted through the aperture 20 into the receptacle 12. The stem 24 is inserted so as to be at least partially immersed in the water contained in the receptacle. A seal is formed between the stem 24 of the flower 26 and the end cap 18 to prevent the water from leaking from the receptacle during use. In addition, the tabs 22 of the end cap 18 press against the stem 24 to prevent the flower 26 from inadvertently falling out of the receptacle. The water contained in the receptacle 12 provides water to the fresh flower 26 to prolong the freshness of the flower while being worn and thus significantly increasing the time before the flower 26 noticeably begins to wilt.
Referring now to FIG. 2, there is illustrated an elongated receptacle 50 according to the principles of the present invention. The receptacle 50 forms a closed-end tube having a closed end 52 and an open end 54. A protruding lip 56 is formed around the open end 54. An elongate channel 58 is formed along a length of the receptacle 50. The channel 58 is formed by a rectangular-shaped tube 60 that is attached to or integrally formed with the receptacle 50. The channel 58 is sized to receive one leg 62 of a hair clip 64 and may be configured to form a friction fit therewith when the leg 62 of the hair clip 64 is inserted through the channel 58 to hold the hair clip 64 therein. The receptacle 50 may be formed from molded plastic as a single unitary component as illustrated. Likewise, the receptacle 50 may be formed as a two-piece structure that includes the receptacle portion 66 and the hair clip retaining portion 68 as separate components that are mechanically, as with a fastener, or chemically attached to each other, as by adhesive bonding. The receptacle may be formed from an opaque material having a particular color or may be formed from a transparent material, such as clear plastic or glass.
As shown in FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C, an end cap 70 according to the present invention is a ring-like structure having a cylindrical configuration. The cap includes an outer rim 72 forming an outer cylindrical structure and an inner rim 74 forming an inner cylindrical structure. An annular space 76 is formed between the outer and inner rims 72 and 74, respectively. Circumscribing the back end of the outer rim 72 is an inner lip 77 that has a tapered annular surface 78. The inner lip 77 is provided to hold the cap 70 to the end of the receptacle when the cap 70 is placed over the open end of the receptacle as previously describe. The external annular lip provided on the open end of the receptacle as previously described its within the annular space 76 with the inner annular lip 76 wrapping around the back of the exterior annular lip. The tapered surface 78 is provided to allow the lip 77 to expand and slide over the exterior annular lip of the receptacle. When the cap 70 is attached to the open end of the receptacle, the inner rim snugly fits within the open end of the receptacle to further help retain the cap 70 to the receptacle and forms a seal between the cap and the receptacle. To further assist a snug fit, the inner rim 74 may be slightly tapered so as to compress against the sides of the receptacle when inserted. The cap may be formed from a flexible material such as rubber or plastic that can be easily molded, as by injection molding, into the shape illustrated in FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C.
Radially and evenly spaced around the interior aperture 80 defined by the inner rim 74 is a plurality of inwardly depending flanges or tabs 82. Each tab 82 is attached to and depends from the inner rim 74 proximate a front end 34 thereof and cantilevered at an inward angle to define an inner aperture 86. Because the cap 70 and thus the tabs 82 are formed from a flexible, resilient material, the tabs can outwardly flex to allow the stem of a flower to pass therethrough and are biased in a direction toward its resting position to press against the stem of the flower thereby holding it in place. The tabs 82 are generally triangular or pie-shaped structures that are angled toward the back of the receptacle when the cap 70 is attached thereto with a base of each tab 82 from an inner surface of an outer wall of the end cap and the tip of the tab 82 extending toward a longitudinal center of the end cap 70. Thus, the distal ends 83 of each tab will engage the stem of the flower and prevent the flower from being easily pulled from the cap, in effect locking the stem of the flower to the cap 70. In addition, because the tabs 82 are pie-shaped and closely spaced or touching, water contained in the receptacle is substantially prevented from flowing out through the cap.
As illustrated in FIG. 4, a receptacle 100 according to the principles of the present invention may have a curved shape to allow water 102 contained in the receptacle 100 to primarily reside in the portion of the receptacle 100 nearest the closed end 104. By providing a gradual curve to the receptacle 100, the stem of a flower can still be inserted through the cap 106 and into the body 103 of the receptacle 100 by allowing the stem to bend without breaking or kinking.
Referring now to FIG. 5, there is illustrated another embodiment of a receptacle, generally indicated at 120, in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The receptacle, 120 is similar in configuration to the receptacle 50 shown in FIG. 2 and includes a cylindrically-shaped water absorbing member 122. The member 122 is illustrated as being coextensive with the interior space 124, but could be of a shorter length. The member 122 may be in the form of a sponge or other material known in the art that absorbs water and is compressible to some degree to allow the stem of a flower (or other botanical object having a stem that can fit within toe receptacle 120) to be inserted into the space 126 defined by the member 122. The member 122 maintains a quantity of water within the receptacle 120 to provide water to the botanical object to prevent wilting. The member 122 also helps maintain the water within the receptacle so that the water will not leak from the open end 128 of the receptacle 120 when the cap (as previously described) is attached to the open end 128 of the receptacle 120. Though not illustrated, the member could be enclosed at the closed end of the receptacle so that the space 126 does not extend completely through the member 122.
FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C illustrate an alternative embodiment of the components of a fresh flower holder configured for attaching to hair, generally indicated at 200. The flower holder 200 is comprised of an elongate receptacle 202 having an open end 204 and a closed end 206. The receptacle 202 has a generally cylindrical shape and has an inner diameter that is sized to receive the stem of a flower ranging in diameter from about ⅛ inch to about 5/16 inch, although other sizes could be accommodated by changing the dimensions of the flower holder 200. The receptacle may be of a size of approximately 1.75 inches with a diameter of approximately ⅜ inch. An end cap 210 is configured to be received within the open end 204 of the receptacle 200. The end cap 210 is provided with a circumferential protrusion 212 for being received within an inner circumferential groove 214 formed inside the receptacle 202. This allows the end cap 210 to be removably attached to the receptacle 202 so as to remain attached to the receptacle 202 during use, but to allow the end cap 210 to be removed to allow cleaning of the inside of the receptacle 202 and/or insertion of a water absorbing material as herein described. The end cap 210 is provided with an abutment flange 216 that abuts the open end 204 of the receptacle when fully inserted therein. When fully inserted, the protrusion 212 resides within the inner groove 214. The insertion end 216 of the end cap 210 has a tapered outer surface so as to allow the end cap 210 to be easily inserted into the receptacle 202. The end cap 202 is formed from a semi-rigid material that is flexible enough to allow the insertion end 216 to slightly compress as it is inserted into the receptacle until the protrusion 212 is received within the groove 214 at which point the resilient nature of the material of the end cap 210 allows the insertion end 216 to return to its pre-insertion shape so as to bias the protrusion 212 into the groove 214. The friction fit between the end cap 210 and the inside 218 of the receptacle 202 and between the protrusion 212 and the groove 214 forms a water-tight seal therein between.
As previously described with reference to other embodiments herein, the end cap 210 is provided with a plurality of inwardly extending tabs 220 that are inwardly tapered and angled from proximate the proximal end 222 to the insertion end 216. Each tab 220 is inwardly angled at approximately 30 degrees from the longitudinal axis of the end cap 210 with the distal ends 224 of each tab 220 defining an inner aperture 226 that defines the smallest flower stem that can be adequately held within the flower holder 200. Each tab 220 is attached in a cantilever manner to the inner surface 228 of the end cap 210. Because the end cap 210 is formed from a resilient material, such as a plastic, the tabs 220 are inwardly biased when a stem of a flower having a diameter greater than the diameter of the aperture 226 is inserted there through.
The receptacle 202 is provided with a clasp attachment structure 230 that is integrally formed with the receptacle 202 on an outer surface 232 thereof. The attachment structure is configured for receiving one prong 234 of a clasp 240. The clasp 240 has an arcuate shape with the prong 234 provided with teeth 236 on an inner grasping surface thereof. The prong 234 has a height that is sized so as to be received within an aperture 242 defined by the attachment structure 230 with a friction fit. In addition, the serrated edge 238 of the clasp 240 engages with the attachment structure 230 so as to hold the clasp within the attachment structure 230 to prevent the clasp 240 from becoming disconnected from the attachment structure 230. The attachment structure 230 forms a first elongate, generally rectangular aperture 242 therethrough for receiving the prong 234. The aperture 242 has a width to accommodate the width of the prong 234 when inserted therein and is provided with a laterally extending wall 244 that has a slightly arcuate shape so as to flex away from the receptacle 202 when the prong 234 is inserted therein. This provides a biasing of the wall 244 against, the teeth 236 of the prong 234 to hold the clasp 240 within the attachment structure. As will be shown in more detail, the attachment structure 230 defines a second aperture 250 that is transverse to and intersects the first aperture 242.
As shown in FIG. 7, the second aperture 250 is provided to allow attachment of the clasp 240 in an orientation that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the receptacle 202 and perpendicular to the first opening 242. This allows the receptacle 202 to be attached to the hair of a person in various positions and orientations depending on the desire of the user. Thus, the prong 234 of the clasp 240 can be inserted through the aperture 250 to hold the receptacle 202 at a ninety degree angle to the longitudinal axis of the clasp 240. The bottom prong 252 is biased toward the to prong 234 so as to receive a lock of hair (not shown) thereinbetween. The exposed teeth 236 of the top prong 234 engage strands of the hair and, with biasing force from the bottom prong 252, hold the device 200 to the lock of hair.
As shown in FIG. 8, when the device 200 is fully assembled, the end cap 210 is fully inserted within the receptacle 202 at the open end 204 thereof. The clasp 240 is inserted into the attachment structure 230 such that the to prong 234 is forced through the aperture 250 so that the teeth 236 engage the inner surface of the wall 260 of the support structure 230. The wall 260 extends perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of the receptacle 202 and is supported by and depended from four corner members, 262 and 264 of which are visible, that depend perpendicularly from the base portion 266 of the attachment structure 230. The base portion 266 is fixedly coupled and may be integrally formed with the receptacle 202.
As further illustrated in FIG. 9, when a stem 300 of a flower is inserted into the receptacle 202, the stem 300 causes the tabs 220 to open and press against the outer surface 302 of the stem 300. The distal end 224 of each can 220 engages the sides of the stem 300 to prevent the stem from falling out of the receptacle 300. Pulling of the stem 300 can even cause the tabs 220 to dig into the stem 300 to prevent the stem 300 from being easily removed. When the device 200 is tilted at an angle as shown, as may be the case when being worn in the hair of a user, the water 304 contained within the receptacle surrounds the stem 300 within the receptacle 202 to keep the flower fresh for a longer period of time. The engagement of the stem 300 with the end cap 210 forms a seal between the stem 300 and the end cap 210 to prevent the water 304 from exiting the receptacle 202, especially where a diameter of the stem 300 approximates the inner diameter of the end cap 210 as illustrated.
Because the tabs 220 of the end cap 210 can flex inwardly when a stem 350 is inserted, the end cap and thus the flower holder 200 can accommodate flower stems of various sizes as will be the case as a result of the variation of such stems from flower to flower. As illustrated in FIG. 10, for smaller stem diameters, it may be desirable to insert an absorbent material, such as a portion of a cotton ball 352 into the receptacle 202 to hold water within the receptacle during use. This may especially be helpful if there is a gap 354 between the outer surface of the stem 350 and the inside of the end cap 210 due to the smaller diameter of the stem 350. In such a case, however, the tabs 220 of the end cap 210 still engage the sides of the stem 350 to retain the stem 350 within the receptacle 202 during use.
It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that some other configurations of a fresh flower hair barrette could be made without departing from the inventive concepts herein. For example, the shape of the receptacle and/or the type of clasp or clip could be modified as desired. Thus, while there have been described various embodiments of the present invention, those skilled in the art will recognize that other and further changes and modifications may be made thereto without department from the spirit of the invention, and it is intended to claim all such changes and modifications that fall within the true scope of the invention. It is also understood that, as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural reference, unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.
Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meanings as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. While various methods and structures of the present invention are described herein, any methods or structures similar or equivalent to those described herein may be used in the practice or testing of the present invention. All references cited herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety and for all purposes. In addition, while the foregoing advantages of the present invention are manifested in the illustrated embodiments of the invention, a variety of changes can be made to the configuration, design and construction of the invention to achieve those advantages including combinations of components of the various embodiments. Hence, reference herein to specific details of the structure and function of the present invention is by way of example only and not by way of limitation.