Queer Tools collected and curated by Stafford Schmool.
Photographed by Nigel Haynes.

Queer Tools are odd, unknown, rare or daft objects, which I’ve been collecting since I was a kid. The collection became bona fide in 1989 when my dear friend Hoople gave me the orange plastic winder/grinder thing QT 001, which somehow ‘exposed’ my habit, and galvanised my ideas about these objects and why I collected them. Shortly after this epiphany, I decided to catalogue them i.e. put them all in the same cardboard box.

There are no particular rules, just my opinion on what is, or what isn’t, a Queer Tool. They’re mostly mass produced things, but include craft, one-off and homemade objects. There are also some text based ‘objects’ which exist only in the authors description, some of which I may draw or make models of. The plan is to show a new object each week or so, in no particular order… Many of the objects were collected before the internet arrived in our lives, which has so dramatically changed just about EVERYTHING…this cannot be stressed enough. One particular effect on this project is that it has become a website, another is that research can be a few minutes or hours work rather than days or weeks work….although this has not actually made anything actually happen any quicker [1000 apologies Nigel].

Years later I named the collection Queer Tools*. It occurred to me that almost everything can be considered a tool; everything we ever made, invented, harvested or processed. Most tools are obviously tools, but can I broaden the net? Words are tools to help us think or communicate, a tune is a tool to help you sing or dance, paintings and pancakes may be tools to make us happy? This great Saul Bass animation Why Man Creates, serves as a good reminder of what we Homo sapiens do…we make stuff. ‘Queer’ was chosen for a variety of reasons; principally it seems just about the perfect term for this stuff, and is absolutely queer in itself.

*Some years after I’d ‘invented’ the name, I found the term used in Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated Newspaper [25.1.1917]. ‘Queer Tools of Modern War‘ official photographs from James H Hare of commandeered German munitions during the Great War. One odd note explains that barbed wire had become a ubiquitous accessory to war, and details the annual cost of barbed wired supplied by USA. In 1915 the cost was approx. $7 million, by 1917 annual US supplies has reached a staggering $37million.


Mr Haynes is a genius still life photographer, welder, fisherman, and a collector of all sorts. He’s got an eye for most things and over the years has donated several queer objects to the collection. He has a special ability to collect old motorcycles….sometimes vintage, usually not working. Thanks Nigel, for beautiful photography, extreme patience, & Moto Guzzi service tips. nigel@nigelhaynes.co.uk

Thank you to Stephen and Damon at FUEL for encouragement and help with design. We are hoping they’ll publish the collection when its complete. fuel-design.com

Special thanks to Jason Hart who built the website kickmouth.com,
and Marlena Schmool who works against the odds to edit the worst of my linguistic and grammatical misdemeanours.

Stafford Schmool [né Andrew Stafford b.1965]  lives and works in East London. He designs products, furniture, interiors, and small buildings, sometimes building the things he designs. Occasionally he teaches design or gives talks about it, most recently the subject has been “Queer Tools”.  staffordschmool.com

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