Hexagonal Lobes and Other Riddles

Grope a Peppe

This is a series of riddles. Each riddle consists of two parts: the first is a text – between a technical description, a poem, or a riddle – that attempts to describe a fruit or a vegetable. In the second part are illustrations, drawn by scientific illustrators from around the world, based on the technical description sent to them. The illustrators were not informed that the descriptions were of fruit.


This series began in technical descriptions of fruit and vegetables. I tried to describe them the way an articulate blind man might on his first encounter with a fruit: eyes shut, I groped each fruit and vegetable, and dictated my impressions to a typist.

Scientific illustrators from around the globe were then approached online. A scientific illustrator is an artist who specializes in visually communicating academic knowledge, particularly in the life sciences. Scientific illustration has its own tradition and style, as can be seen in the illustrations of teeth, knees, and cartilages that decorate the clinics of family physicians. 

I asked the illustrators to illustrate the descriptions. I did not present them as riddles, and did not reveal that behind them hid fruit. I claimed they were visions that came to me in my sleep, and that although I could describe them in detail, I was not skilled enough to draw them myself. 

The series brings together the entities drawn by the illustrators, alongside their respective descriptions, presented verbatim.

A sample of four such riddles is presented on this website.

Dear ________, 

My name is S.F.Kislev. I’ve searched for scientific illustrators online and found your work, which I like. Are you available for commission work?

The work is unusual. I have in mind visions of organic beings. I’ve attempted to describe them in as much detail as I can. Here, for instance, is a description:



Can you please draw this being for me? While I can describe it in detail, I am not skilled enough to draw it myself. You can draw an external view, and internal view, with or without cross-sections, with or without stippling, etc; whatever you need to best translate the description.


The illustration has to be done by hand, with ink, on nice paper. The size doesn’t really matter, but I think something like A4 works well. If you agree, the process will be simple: you’ll do a rough sketch, I will ask questions and make specific comments, and when we agree you will ink the illustration. 

I know this is an odd request. I hope you find it interesting. I’m looking forward to working with you on realizing these visions, which come to me in my sleep.


S.F.Kislev, Freddy2000@gmail.com