We started working on a puzzle this evening. Cathy had pulled one out to work on over the Christmas break and we finished that in reasonably short order. That one had 500 pieces and was a pretty straightforward task. I bought this one as a Christmas present for Cathy and it promises to be a bit more challenging. It has a scene from Venice, Italy and is cut up into 1,000 pieces. Until the puzzle is nearly done, that’s too big for our card table so I brought up a four foot square piece of wood and put that on top of the table. That’s just about enough room to get all the pieces laid out in a single layer and turned right side up with enough extra space to start putting the sides together.
I happened to read something recently that compared some task with trying to do a puzzle without the aid of the photo on the box. That made me laugh, because that’s the rule in our house. Looking at the box is considered cheating so once a puzzle is put out, the box is put away and not looked at again until it’s all done. You don’t have to follow that rule, if you’d rather not, but that’s the way we work things.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I have been putting together puzzles lately. The first one we’ve done recently was started at the beach over the summer but wasn’t completed. We rolled it up then and it’s been in that state since then. We finished that a while back and put out this as our next. I was pretty challenging. Nevertheless, we made continual progress on it and finally finished it this evening. It’s a 1,000 piece puzzle.
Our family is in the “you don’t look at the box” camp. Yes, that makes the puzzle somewhat harder (and sometimes considerably harder). But it also gives more satisfaction and gratification when the puzzle is eventually completed. I know we were all pretty pleased with ourselves when we finished this one. We have put it away and put out our next one, which promises to be at least as hard. It’s also larger, with 1,500 pieces.
Mandala Stone Puzzle
After the Dahlia puzzle (see Friday, January 20, 2023) we decided to put out a new one. This time it’s a picture of painted mandala stones. At a glance Cathy and I thought they were Murano (Venetian) Glass Paperweights but looking a little closer, they clearly are not glass. Ravensburger’s title for the 1,500 piece puzzle is simply “One Dot at a Time.” This turned out to be even harder than the Dahlia puzzle. We’d go for long stretches without finding any pieces and then we’d get a bunch all together. Each stone became a separate entity, although a few of them were similar enough that it was sometimes hard to know to which a certain piece belonged. Especially without the box to look at (because that would be cheating).
“Garden of Delight” Puzzle
As mentioned, we’ve been doing puzzles recently. We started one with a photo of succulent plants while at the beach last summer and finally got around to unrolling it and finishing it early this year. The next one, the 1,000 piece Dahlia Puzzle (Friday, January 20, 2023) was considerably harder. Then we did the larger, 1,500 piece Mandala Stone Puzzle (Monday, February 6, 2023). We didn’t exactly plan for each puzzle to be harder than the one before but this one, although only 1,000 pieces, was considerably harder than any of the preceding three. It’s a photo of a tapestry called “Garden of Delight” made by William Morris (March 24, 1834 – October 3, 1896). He was, according to the bio on the box, “a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.” There were times when we despaired of ever finishing it, but, eventually we did. There were times when I basically picked up every piece and tried it in every available spot until I found where it went or put it aside and went on to the next piece, starting over once I had been through all the pieces. In that way, eventually, it came together.
We finished another puzzle in the last couple days. This one was much, much easier than the previous couple. That’s not to say it was simple, but nothing like the Dahlia, Mandala Stone, or especially the William Morris, “Garden of Delight” puzzle. Some of the proverbs or idioms in the puzzle are obvious. Others are either obscure or were unfamiliar to us. Nevertheless, we enjoyed trying to make sense of the illustrations. As is usual in a large puzzle, the large areas of sky with little to differentiate them was the last to get finished. Next up is a scene of Venice, which will be a little more challenging than this one, I think.
We completed another puzzle this week. I’m not sure where we got this one—illustrating “Great Events of the Bible”—but it’s been in our basement a while without ever being put together. It was a relatively easy puzzle, compared to others we’ve done lately. That’s partly because there is text scattered around and any piece with text on it is easy to orient. With some puzzles it’s very difficult to know which way many of the pieces sit. There also are no large areas of similar color in this one, as there are with images with large amounts of sky, etc. Still, it was fun putting it together. Next we will work on puzzle with a view of Venice, Italy.
Our most recent puzzle adventure was this scene from Venice. As you might imagine, the clouds and sky were the most difficult part, and took us a while after the buildings had been completed and the water in the foreground got filled in. But, as it usually the case, giving it a little attention each day, finding one piece now and then, eventually it got finished. We have two more puzzles on-deck and will start the first of those shortly. We find it mentally stimulating and something we can easily do easily while chatting.
It’s time for another installment of Henry and Cathy’s puzzle collection. This one looked nice so I bought it and we finished putting it together a couple days ago. The water in the foreground and the sky were the most challenging parts, which isn’t too surprising. The stern of the ship and parts of the rigging were done first (after the edges, of course, which are almost always finished before much else has been done.
We don’t absolutely always have a puzzle going, but lately we’ve tried to. We’re running out of them, though, with only a few more on hand, so I’m not sure what we’ll do after that. We also like crossword puzzles, sometimes doing them together but more often, separately. We have crossword puzzle books, published by Simon and Schuster and The New York Times. For quite a while now, my mom has saved the puzzles from the Washington Post and gives them to me, so I work through those. They are generally a bit easier than the other two sources and I actually do them in pen (and sometimes without actually making mistakes, although certainly not all the time).
Bird House Puzzle
We started this puzzle at the beach. It’s a used puzzle that mom bought. Buying a used puzzle is always a bit of a risk because a missing piece can be so frustrating. As it turned out, there was one piece missing, but of course we didn’t know that until the rest of the puzzle was done.
Last year at the beach we got two large sheets of felt. We put the puzzle together on one of them and when our week at the beach was up we put the other piece of felt over the partially complete puzzle, rolled it up, and put it in a heavy, cardboard tube. That works reasonably well and we unrolled it here without too much fixing to be done. This puzzle in particular was poorly made and the pieces didn’t really stay together very well, but that had more to do with the puzzle than with rolling it up. I’d also put the puzzle on the yellow felt instead of black in the future, because the black made it hard to see where pieces had not been placed. At home, we have a large (4′ by 4′) piece of MDF that sits on a card table and the beige color is generally good as a background.
Another issue with this puzzle, especially while we were at the beach, was that there wasn’t room to put most of the pieces out on the table. So, about half the pieces were still in the box, meaning we’d rifle through the pieces in the box looking for a particular piece. Not idea. Once we got it home, we were able to lay out the other pieces and eventually we finished it.
We finished another puzzle this week. It was sent to us by our good friends, Brian and Lisa. We really enjoyed hiking with their dogs when we were in Alaska in June. Sadly, one of them is gone now, but Ayla and Lucky made the move with them to Oregon. This was a slightly easier puzzle than some we’ve done lately, being only 500 pieces, but we enjoyed it, nonetheless. We’re hoping to have Brian, Lisa, Ayla, and Lucky visit us this fall. This photo isn’t as good as some of the puzzle pictures I’ve been able to take, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what it looked like. Of course, we never know, in any detail, what a puzzle will look like while we’re putting it together. Looking at the box would be cheating.
Proverbs and Idioms Puzzle
We finished another puzzle in the last few days. This one is another with illustrations of proverbs and idioms and at 1505 pieces, it took us a while. Although areas of bright color are sometimes the easiest to work on, there are times when I get concentrated on things like the sky and for this puzzle, once we had a lot of the easier bits done, I tackled the sky, working primarily with shapes and fine gradations of color. It’s challenging and part of what makes puzzles interesting. The other ‘rule’ we have is we don’t look at the box. That’s cheating, in our book, and it also serves to make the puzzle more interesting, especially with something like this where you have no idea of the overall design ahead of time.
This puzzle is, as you might notice, missing one piece. We actually found that piece after we took it apart to pit it back in its box, so that’s fine. More curious than that, though, is that there was an extra piece that clearly isn’t from this puzzle at all. We’ve no idea where that came from.