I recently completed a certificate in scientific illustration with botanist and illustrator Gretchen Halpert. The final part of the certificate required either doing an internship or conducting an independent study. I selected the independent study option, and chose to focus on the pickle manufacturing industry in Wiggins, Mississippi. I grew up in Wiggins and wanted to honor my hometown by creating educational illustrations about the pickle industry, which is an important part of its history.
The study focuses on a single entity – AKA , the Wiggins Pickle Plant, the Pickle Plant, or just the Plant, which operated from 1912 – 1983 under various company names. For the study, I traveled to Wiggins and visited the Old Firehouse Museum, which is a repository of information about the town’s history. The majority of the information for this project came from newspaper articles dating from the mid 1920s to late 1950s found there. I also questioned several individuals who had either worked at the Pickle Plant, or had family who grew pickles for it.
In this study, illustrations and supporting text are used to describe cucumbers and discuss how they are pollinated. It then examines the harvest and processing methods associated with the Wiggins Pickle Plant between mid-1930s to late 1950s. The study concludes with a look at a Pickle Festival held in 1937 to show how the plant impacted the town both economically and socially. These are the illustrations that I created.
Click on the link below to download the full PowerPoint presentation of the study.
Given the long history of the pickle plant in Wiggins, this ten-week project barely scratched the surface of the many microcosms involved in manufacturing pickles. I plan to continue the study, but will do so by focusing on more specific research questions.
*Note: In case you’re wondering what happened to the building, It was purchased by the family of Rusty Reeves in 1987 and used for HVAC air distribution products until 2002. According to Mr. Reeves, the plant employed up to 88 employees at peak times.