Wanted: Vegetable (or mineral) to wrest away the dominance in the novelty marketplace from the aging yet venerated Pet Rock, the leader of making something valuable out of insignificance.
Found: Wonky Pickles, conceived, designed and manufactured by illustrator/designer Naomi Otsu.
These bespoke naturally green pickled cucumbers are the perfect gift for the pickle fancier in your life. In season at any time of year as holiday tree ornament or paperweight, they are also a stylish accessory for any lounge- or sportswear combo. And don’t forget their role at home or office as a conversation piece.
I asked Otsu about her entrepreneurial plans for the pickle, and the efficacy of a pickle.
Why are pickles your desired vegetable?
I’ve always loved pickles (I have a tattoo of one) but when I first got into making 3D objects I figured that shape would be the easiest to start with. It just ended up sticking, and the response was very positive, so I haven’t ventured into other shapes yet …
What gives pickles their distinct personality?
I think the eye/mouth/nose ratio. Some have bigger eyes, some have smaller noses and wider smiles. I’m working on some different mouth expressions this year.
How do you make a pickle?
I start with a foil to create a base in the shape of the pickle. The clay process begins by mixing an olive green and brighter green to get a specific shade that I like. Once that’s done I wrap the clay around the foil base. I spend about 15 minutes shaping it and making sure the overall surface is smooth. I add on the top bump, tiny body bumps, nose, and carve the mouth. The eyes are a bit tricky because I have to make sure the tiny white parts are the same in size before pressing them on to complete the face. Bake for 15 minutes, draw the eyes in, and voila! You have a pickle. The overall process is very therapeutic and my favorite thing to do is watch a movie while I make them.
Do you secretly hope that pickles will change the world?
Not sure if they will change the world, but I hope they bring a big smile to people’s faces during the holiday season. (Or better yet, all year round!)
Do you foresee a future where pickles will be genetically modified?
I thought about getting them mass-produced, but that kills the charm of how unique each one is—I think people like how each one has their own name and face, so I quickly ditched that idea. Handmade only!
How can people get their own pick of the pickle litter?
They will be for sale in early November—in the meantime, you can sign up for updates via my newsletter at shop.naomiotsu.com.
Fun Fact: A pickle (n) c. 1560s –“a sorry plight, a state or condition of difficulty or disorder”, from the time when the word meant “a sauce served on meat about to be eaten.”