December 01, 2007

Wooden Jigsaws

Leave a jigsaw unfinished on a table, and my mother-in-law will be attracted to it like a moth to a flame. She says she hates the 1000-piece puzzles that are impossible to solve, but really you can tell that she likes those the most. She'll find a single piece to place, declare victory for the day, and then leave the puzzle in its slightly-less-jumbled state. Puzzles are to savor over time.

So for Grandma's birthday we decided to give her a custom picture puzzle depicting the kids...

Wooden Puzzles

Wooden jigsaw puzzles are a terrific departure from the typical grid-cut cardboard jigsaw puzzles you can get at the dime store. Jigsaw puzzle cutters who produce wooden puzzles typically put a little bit of extra creativity into the puzzle, doing things like disguising the corner pieces by divding them at the point; making false edges that are actually on the interior of the puzzle; and making piece boundaries follow color lines in the image to eliminate easy hints.

The favorite trick done by wooden jigsaw cutters is the "whimsy" piece, a puzzle piece that looks like a person or an object rather than a puzzle piece. Whimsy pieces are great fun, and they are a little easier than the typical jigsaw piece. When trickery makes finding the edge impossible, you start with the whimsy pieces instead.

Custom Cuts

We ordered our custom puzzle from Andrea at Thingamajigsaw Puzzles. It is absolutely wonderful.

If you custom-order a wooden jigsaw puzzle, the puzzle artist will typically let you request a number of whimsy pieces, and we chose to put in a birthday cake, a ballerina, a basketball player, and other items related to the kids. You might be able to see in the photo to the right that Andrea actually cut several of the whimsies so that the color in the picture gives meaning to the shape: an ice-cream cone has pink ice cream; a birthday cake has yellow-flaming candles; and the basketball player is shooting an orange ball.

The custom puzzle made an excellent present - Andrea exceeded our expectations, and we'll definitely order from her again.

Posted by David at December 1, 2007 09:56 PM
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