Playing with Puzzles

 

“pieces of a puzzle,” titov dmitriy. (Shutterstock)

On a gray, rainy day when I was a kid, my Mom often went into the hall closet and dug out a puzzle for us to assemble. I remember being overwhelmed by all the little pieces, the multiple shades of blues, greens and yellows, and wondered how we’d ever complete it, even though we had done it in the past.

But we did.

Recently I had a yen to take up puzzles again, and decided to ask one of my dear friends to make suggestions about potential puzzles. She’s been doing them for years, and I knew she would try not to overwhelm me with choices. So, when we discussed puzzles, she suggested a couple of companies, recommended that I pick a puzzle with 500 pieces instead of 1,000, and sent me to the Amazon site. And I picked out this beautiful Ravensburger Puzzle.

Everything about it spoke to me: the greenery, the flowers, the fruit trees, the light. So when it arrived, I opened the box—and gasped! A puzzle with 500 pieces is a lot of pieces! But I took a deep breath and went into my office where Jerry had set up a bridge table for me.

I poured out the pieces, and asked myself, “Now what??” But those rainy mornings with my Mom came back to me, and I realized a good first step would be to find pieces of similar colors and also pieces of the puzzle that had straight edges – which meant they were probably part of the borders. (Where those memories came from, I have no idea.)

I’m a couple of days into the puzzle, maybe a half-hour at a time, and am breathing a little easier. I don’t think I started with the easiest part of the picture, but I’ve attached about 20 pieces of the upper edge. I’m in no hurry, and I have no idea why I’m enjoying it, although I must say that I’m so tickled when a couple of pieces match up!

There’s also something satisfying in giving myself permission to create something without pressures, time frames or expectations. And I can stop for a few minutes and walk over to the bridge table to pick up where I left off, selecting one piece at a time.

I know I’m just a novice, and I don’t want to get discouraged. If there are any master puzzle assemblers out there, do you have any guidance you can give me on any aspects of assembling puzzles?

Remember: I’m hoping you’ll encourage me in this process!

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  1. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    I love doing puzzles and logic problems. I sort colors in these old Christmas card boxes I think I have 12 of them. I do them on $1.29 foam core board from Hobby Lobby. I can pick  them up and move them out of the way. Once I can use the porch when the weather warms up, I do them there. You could do 1,000 piece puzzles if you pick out puzzles with buildings. My daughter and I pass our collection back and forth. She told me to put all the edge pieces in a ziplock bag when I take them apart. I like that. It helped me get started quicker when I did one of hers. Rooting through 1000 pieces trying to find edges is a pain. I have so many that I date the bottom of the boxes now when I complete one. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    I love doing puzzles and logic problems. I sort colors in these old Christmas card boxes I think I have 12 of them. I do them on $1.29 foam core board from Hobby Lobby. I can pick them up and move them out of the way. Once I can use the porch when the weather warms up, I do them there. You could do 1,000 piece puzzles if you pick out puzzles with buildings. My daughter and I pass our collection back and forth. She told me to put all the edge pieces in a ziplock bag when I take them apart. I like that. It helped me get started quicker when I did one of hers. Rooting through 1000 pieces trying to find edges is a pain. I have so many that I date the bottom of the boxes now when I complete one.

    Wow! What great information! I like your separation suggestions–anything to make it just a little easier! Thanks, RH.

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Yes the 500 piece puzzle is a better pick. I bought a 1000 piece puzzle and it remains unfinished. I also bought a rotating puzzle board that has a plastic cover you can slide on to hold the pieces in place if you need move the board or put it aside for a bit. The board also has drawers into which you can place puzzle pieces that you want to sort in some fashion or otherwise keep off the board while you work the puzzle. My strategy is to always start by completing the edge (as those pieces are readily identified — if not readily joined). 

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Yes the 500 piece puzzle is a better pick. I bought a 1000 piece puzzle and it remains unfinished. I also bought a rotating puzzle board that has a plastic cover you can slide on to hold the pieces in place if you need move the board or put it aside for a bit. The board also has drawers into which you can place puzzle pieces that you want to sort in some fashion or otherwise keep off the board while you work the puzzle. My strategy is to always start by completing the edge (as those pieces are readily identified — if not readily joined).

    Ah! More good advice. That rotating puzzle board sounds interesting. Even with just 500 pieces, I wish I had more room, but I’ll do okay. Too bad about your 1000-piece puzzle. Thinking about trying it again?

    • #4
  5. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Yes the 500 piece puzzle is a better pick. I bought a 1000 piece puzzle and it remains unfinished. I also bought a rotating puzzle board that has a plastic cover you can slide on to hold the pieces in place if you need move the board or put it aside for a bit. The board also has drawers into which you can place puzzle pieces that you want to sort in some fashion or otherwise keep off the board while you work the puzzle. My strategy is to always start by completing the edge (as those pieces are readily identified — if not readily joined).

    Ah! More good advice. That rotating puzzle board sounds interesting. Even with just 500 pieces, I wish I had more room, but I’ll do okay. Too bad about your 1000-piece puzzle. Thinking about trying it again?

    Oh, I’ll finish it. Thanks to the plastic cover it is suspended in place.

    • #5
  6. She Member
    She
    @She

    Beautiful post, Susan.  

    I need to get back to doing puzzles.  Mr. She and I loved the 1,000 piecers, but eventually they became too much for either of us, and we scaled back.

    I like the Charles Wysocki series of “Americana” puzzles.  The colors are clear and distinct, and the designs are always fun.  I steer away from the Thomas Kincade puzzles, not because I don’t like some of the pictures, but because the colors are less distinct, and his reputation as the “painter of light” sometimes makes it hard for my ever-aging eyes to distinguish them. There’s a series of puzzles by Jane Wooster Scott which are thematically similar to the Wysocki ones, but are often on cork-backed pieces and include a dozen or so “specially-shaped” pieces (in the shape of an elephant, or Aladdin’s lamp, or a tree, or similar).  I really like those.  

    I like exploring vintage puzzles on eBay, although you’re at the mercy of the seller when it comes to whether or not the puzzle is complete.  My prize possession, puzzle-wise, is a duplicate of one of the first puzzles I remember from my childhood, “King Arthur on Dartmoor,” a puzzle which was once my mother’s.  Found one on eBay years, ago, and it is complete, oft-done, and much loved.  I’ve not yet snagged the other one I remember, “The Flower Seller.”  I bid on a one some years ago, but lost.  All the early puzzle I remember were wooden, and–I’m sure they are from the days before laser cutting–the pieces are irregular and very interesting shapes.

    I have a couple of two-sided puzzles.  Those can drive you nuts.  And one circular one.  Ditto.

    Happy puzzling!

     

     

     

     

    • #6
  7. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    SWMBO loves doing jigsaw puzzles. In fact, she calls it “playing puzzle.” She particularly enjoys the “mystery” puzzles, which are puzzles with a mystery story included. The finished puzzle contains clues and red herrings to the mystery.

    I bought her a wooden puzzle board which includes a cover, drawers for sorted pieces, etc. (much like @rodin has). She said it’s invaluable!

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    She (View Comment):

    Beautiful post, Susan.

    I need to get back to doing puzzles. Mr. She and I loved the 1,000 piecers, but eventually they became too much for either of us, and we scaled back.

    I like the Charles Wysocki series of “Americana” puzzles. The colors are clear and distinct, and the designs are always fun. I steer away from the Thomas Kincade puzzles, not because I don’t like some of the pictures, but because the colors are less distinct, and his reputation as the “painter of light” sometimes makes it hard for my ever-aging eyes to distinguish them. There’s a series of puzzles by Jane Wooster Scott which are thematically similar to the Wysocki ones, but are often on cork-backed pieces and include a dozen or so “specially-shaped” pieces (in the shape of an elephant, or Aladdin’s lamp, or a tree, or similar). I really like those.

    I like exploring vintage puzzles on eBay, although you’re at the mercy of the seller when it comes to whether or not the puzzle is complete. My prize possession, puzzle-wise, is a duplicate of one of the first puzzles I remember from my childhood, “King Arthur on Dartmoor,” a puzzle which was once my mother’s. Found one on eBay years, ago, and it is complete, oft-done, and much loved. I’ve not yet snagged the other one I remember, “The Flower Seller.” I bid on a one some years ago, but lost. All the early puzzle I remember were wooden, and–I’m sure they are from the days before laser cutting–the pieces are irregular and very interesting shapes.

    I have a couple of two-sided puzzles. Those can drive you nuts. And one circular one. Ditto.

    Happy puzzling!

     

     

     

     

    You’re amazing! What a connossieur (did I spell that right??) ! You’ve inspired me and I’m more excited than ever to get moving on working on it. Thanks, She.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):
    SWMBO

    What does that stand for? or is it a secret? She sounds like a pro. I had no idea there were so many ways to “play.”

    • #9
  10. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):
    SWMBO

    What does that stand for? or is it a secret? She sounds like a pro. I had no idea there were so many ways to “play.”

    It’s from the old PBS series, “Rumpole of the Bailey.” Rumpole refers to his wife as “She Who Must Be Obeyed.”

    My wife would reject the “pro” description, but I agree with you.

    IIRC John Derbyshire is also a jigsaw puzzle junkie. He gets into what he calls a state of “flow,” what athletes call “the zone.”  Just a state of hyper-concentration where everything seems easy and a sense of time is lost. I think this happens with my wife.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):
    IIRC John Derbyshire is also a jigsaw puzzle junkie. He gets into what he calls a state of “flow,” what athletes call “the zone.”  Just a state of hyper-concentration where everything seems easy and a sense of time is lost. I think this happens with my wife.

    I can see where that could happen. Just haven’t reached that “level” yet!

    • #11
  12. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    My daughter has a puzzle board with drawers. She loves hers. As much as I love my foam core, at most, all I have is an inch to spare on each side while puzzle tables give you more space and they don’t dent when you rest your elbows on them. I tend to make up for that by using my kitchen trays to work specific colors while sitting in my lounger then moving over to the card table to place them. The card table in the picture is an antique so it is smaller and lower than card tables sold today. No matter what side I am working on, I am closer to the puzzle.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I just went to Amazon to look at some puzzle tables with drawers. They are not inexpensive, but I sure can see how they would be helpful. Any guidance on how to pick one?

    • #13
  14. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    I love puzzles. I have several 500 and 1000 pieces. Most of my 500 pieces I can do in a day or 2. I have a friend who has the puzzle board you guys have. She loves it. Since we don’t have to eat on the table, I just leave it there until I finish. I put the border together first. It there is a sky, I leave it for last. I still have the first 1000 piece puzzle I ever put together (45 years ago). The box came apart long ago, but I’ve done it so many times I almost know each individual piece. I will walk by a puzzle I’ve stopped working on and all of a sudden see a piece I’d been looking for. 

    • #14
  15. She Member
    She
    @She

    Red Herring (View Comment):
    I love doing puzzles and logic problems.

    Do you like Smullyan?  (That question reminds me of the old chestnut, Q: “Do you like Kipling?”  A: “I don’t know, I’ve never Kippled.”  Somehow, “I’ve never Smullyand” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

    I come from a family of logic problem titans.  Mr. She was a master, as is his daughter.  My sixteen-year old (yesterday) granddaughter) is another such.  Even my mother, who would have scoffed at the idea as she had no interest in anything from a theoretical perspective, was an intuitive genius at them.

    Me?  I can’t stand the bloody things.  I do like jigsaw puzzles, though.

    • #15
  16. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just went to Amazon to look at some puzzle tables with drawers. They are not inexpensive, but I sure can see how they would be helpful. Any guidance on how to pick one?

    I don’t know about guidance, but this is the one I bought:

    https://www.amazon.com/Piece-Wooden-Jigsaw-Puzzle-Board/dp/B0BQNFRNYG?pd_rd_w=WlFyw&content-id=amzn1.sym.928be83d-9abb-4025-bc6e-e0aed5aed3c9&pf_rd_p=928be83d-9abb-4025-bc6e-e0aed5aed3c9&pf_rd_r=FCK1CRM2CDYC8Q3QHNVR&pd_rd_wg=WOIgT&pd_rd_r=2d27cba4-3e9a-4e2e-b4d4-b829d0b31e7b&pd_rd_i=B0BQNFRNYG&ref_=pd_basp_d_rpt_ba_s_1_t&th=1

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just went to Amazon to look at some puzzle tables with drawers. They are not inexpensive, but I sure can see how they would be helpful. Any guidance on how to pick one?

    I don’t know about guidance, but this is the one I bought:

    https://www.amazon.com/Piece-Wooden-Jigsaw-Puzzle-Board/dp/B0BQNFRNYG?pd_rd_w=WlFyw&content-id=amzn1.sym.928be83d-9abb-4025-bc6e-e0aed5aed3c9&pf_rd_p=928be83d-9abb-4025-bc6e-e0aed5aed3c9&pf_rd_r=FCK1CRM2CDYC8Q3QHNVR&pd_rd_wg=WOIgT&pd_rd_r=2d27cba4-3e9a-4e2e-b4d4-b829d0b31e7b&pd_rd_i=B0BQNFRNYG&ref_=pd_basp_d_rpt_ba_s_1_t&th=1

    That’s a nice one. Sort of mid-range, price-wise. Thanks.

    • #17
  18. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    My daughter has a puzzle board with drawers. She loves hers. As much as I love my foam core, at most, all I have is an inch to spare on each side while puzzle tables give you more space and they don’t dent when you rest your elbows on them. I tend to make up for that by using my kitchen trays to work specific colors while sitting in my lounger then moving over to the card table to place them. The card table in the picture is an antique so it is smaller and lower than card tables sold today. No matter what side I am working on, I am closer to the puzzle.

    I got my wife one of those boards for Christmas. It’s big enough for the 1500-piece ones that are too large for the card table. She loves doing them, but I’ve never had the patience. I do 3 or 4 crosswords every day, though.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    My daughter has a puzzle board with drawers. She loves hers. As much as I love my foam core, at most, all I have is an inch to spare on each side while puzzle tables give you more space and they don’t dent when you rest your elbows on them. I tend to make up for that by using my kitchen trays to work specific colors while sitting in my lounger then moving over to the card table to place them. The card table in the picture is an antique so it is smaller and lower than card tables sold today. No matter what side I am working on, I am closer to the puzzle.

    I got my wife one of those boards for Christmas. It’s big enough for the 1500-piece ones that are too large for the card table. She loves doing them, but I’ve never had the patience. I do 3 or 4 crosswords every day, though.

    I do a crossword, used to do a couple.

    • #19
  20. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    She (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):
    I love doing puzzles and logic problems.

    Do you like Smullyan? (That question reminds me of the old chestnut, Q: “Do you like Kipling?” A: “I don’t know, I’ve never Kippled.” Somehow, “I’ve never Smullyand” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

    I come from a family of logic problem titans. Mr. She was a master, as is his daughter. My sixteen-year old (yesterday) granddaughter) is another such. Even my mother, who would have scoffed at the idea as she had no interest in anything from a theoretical perspective, was an intuitive genius at them.

    Me? I can’t stand the bloody things. I do like jigsaw puzzles, though.

    Not familiar with Smullyan. Jigsaws entertain me anytime but I must have uninterrupted peace and quiet to do a logic puzzle.

    • #20
  21. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    love doing puzzles, so much so that friends have frequently given them to me for Christmas and birthday gifts. My late husband made some for me as well.

    I like a challenge, so most of the ones I do are in the 1,000 – 2,000 range. Our home has a sunroom where I keep my orchids and other plants in the winter, and I do my puzzles on a table in there as it can stay undisturbed while I work on it. It is a lovely place to mess with puzzles, and being surrounded by greenery adds to the charm. 

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    I love doing puzzles, so much so that friends have frequently given them to me for Christmas and birthday gifts. My late husband made some for me as well.

    I like a challenge, so most of the ones I do are in the 1,000 – 2,000 range. Our home has a sunroom where I keep my orchids and other plants in the winter, and I do my puzzles on a table in there as it can stay undisturbed while I work on it. It is a lovely place to mess with puzzles, and being surrounded by greenery adds to the charm.

    That sounds so lovely, PJ! At least I face a window and can look out at the trees on my street. But it will be a long time until I do more than 500 pieces!

    • #22
  23. Acook Coolidge
    Acook
    @Acook

    I love doing puzzles, almost always have one going. I use my dining room table, since we hardly ever eat in there. Mostly do 1000 piece puzzles. Most of those take me about a week, spending a couple hours a day on them. I listen to talk radio or podcasts while I do them. 
    My daughter and I puzzled together while she was growing up. When she left home, I kinda got out of it. Then when Covid came along, puzzles came back into my life and haven’t left. My daughter and I still do one together every Christmas (but only 500 pieces), takes us a couple hours. 
    I get mine on puzzlewarehouse.com mostly. I have a couple friends I trade with, but I do them at a faster rate than they do, so a lot of my done ones go to Good Will. I consider the cost my entertainment budget. Most of my books I get at the library, we don’t go to movies, some streaming costs. That’s about it. (Exciting, huh?)

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Acook (View Comment):

    I love doing puzzles, almost always have one going. I use my dining room table, since we hardly ever eat in there. Mostly do 1000 piece puzzles. Most of those take me about a week, spending a couple hours a day on them. I listen to talk radio or podcasts while I do them.
    My daughter and I puzzled together while she was growing up. When she left home, I kinda got out of it. Then when Covid came along, puzzles came back into my life and haven’t left. My daughter and I still do one together every Christmas (but only 500 pieces), takes us a couple hours.
    I get mine on puzzlewarehouse.com mostly. I have a couple friends I trade with, but I do them at a faster rate than they do, so a lot of my done ones go to Good Will. I consider the cost my entertainment budget. Most of my books I get at the library, we don’t go to movies, some streaming costs. That’s about it. (Exciting, huh?)

    It sounds just wonderful, especially working with your daughter on puzzles. That must be a very special time. My days might look fairly simple to a lot of people–exercise in the morning, prayer, posting on Ricochet, reading others’ posts, working briefly on my puzzle. And I love it! So we’re partners in puzzles!

    • #24
  25. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter


     

    • #25
  26. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    • #26
  27. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noD
    @DonTillman

    I recommend this one:

    What’s really interesting here is how, as puzzle pieces, you can appreciate the weirdly consistent density of the painting.

    And how any individual puzzle piece would make a fine modern art painting by itself.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Seriously? Yikes!

    • #28
  29. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    I recommend this one:

    What’s really interesting here is how, as puzzle pieces, you can appreciate the weirdly consistent density of the painting.

    And how any individual puzzle piece would make a fine modern art painting by itself.

    This one might need to be solved upside down.

    • #29
  30. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Seriously? Yikes!

    Scared?

    “How do You eat an elephant?

    “One bite at a time.”

    • #30
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