Designer creates quirky, tiny stationery that draw smiles

A visit to the Wask online shop yields what appear to be the usual stationery staples and small household items: paper clips, sticky notes, stamps, matches, erasers, pushpins, alligator clips, notebooks. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice something a little different.

The alligator clips have hands, and the paper clips are cartoonishly long or squiggly. The ruler is actually a bandage, the file folder a mousepad in disguise. The sticky notes have adhesive points, not sides, and even the notebook is skewed on an angle. Fake “silica gel” packets contain candy that you can, in fact, eat. And that eraser? It’s soap. (An actual “one-time-use” eraser is hilariously teeny-tiny.)

These whimsical creations come courtesy of art director Dorota Pankowska, who adores making the mundane magical. “I’ve always loved little trinkets and tiny souvenirs, and making crafts,” she says. “Small things are great because they don’t take up a lot of space, but they can hold infinite meaning and inspiration.”

Unbreak My Heart Paper Clips

Budget and limited storage space spurred Pankowska toward tinier treasures. “I just think it’s amazing that we live in a time where a regular person can make so much happen simply with access to the internet and a little bit of money,” she says. Her first attempts at products included enamel pins, pendants and badges, but her obsession with stationery and small objects led her to start a studio in 2017 to offer up desk delights that are “a mix of minimalist, quirky and conceptual.” She called her new endeavour Wask (sounds like “wasp”) in honour of her mother’s family name, since creativity runs in her clan.

First up? The humble paper clip. “It was very difficult to think of a simple yet conceptual paper clip idea, but I wanted a clip that changed its meaning once you clipped it onto a page,” she says. “So that’s how the Unbreak My Heart Paper Clips came to be: they’re heartbroken when you’re not using them, but when you clip them onto paper, the broken bit disappears and it becomes a complete heart.” Her bestseller so far is the Think Twice Dice, whose dots defy conventional order; a favourite in the boardgame community, they once made the front page of Reddit.

Unbreak My Heart paper clips and Held up at Gumpoint push-pins are two of Dorota Pankowska's stationery creations.

Many of Pankowska’s odd products inspire a lot of questions. For one, how does she make her chewed-up-gum Held Up at Gumpoint Push Pins? “I chewed many, many pieces of gum and then laid them all out to see the various shapes,” she says. “I chose three that looked the best.” Pankowska then created rubber silicone molds from those pieces and used them to make the pins with a liquid plastic.

“Some people think they’re just gag gifts to troll people with, and some people think they’re works of art,” she says of her creations. “I don’t know what to think yet myself.”

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