Monday, March 28, 2011


24,000 pieces is the size of the largest commercial jigsaw puzzle according to the Guinness book. Online I found references to a 32,256 piece puzzle. These whoppers take months or even years to complete.
Former world's largest puzzle at 24,000 pieces - completed by Eric Smith 
Current world's largest puzzle, Ravensberger at 32,256 pieces
First you have to love the photo/art you are assembling; second you have to have a lot of time on your hands and a good back - lots of leaning is required for puzzle solving.

I like to do jigsaw puzzles but don't have space or the patience to attempt more than a 500 or 1000 piece challenge. I've neglected this simple pleasure until our current winter's rainy days.  "Up among Roses", 500 pieces, was finished over the weekend, the final piece finding it's home with a satisfying click. Now  PPD (post-puzzle depression) sets in moments after FPS (final-piece satisfaction); you're happy to be done with the thing but slightly agitated when there's no puzzle to sit down to for a few minutes during the day. There's usually a variety of JSP's at the Dollar stores. Not a big investment for so much lovely low-tech entertainment - an easy antidote for too much time spent online.
"Up among Roses" - last piece

I was surprised to learn that you can rent jigsaw puzzles! A company called ELMS rents them and also makes custom puzzles which can be created for a special occasion or a special gift. For instance, one fellow proposed to his puzzler girl friend via a jigsaw which incorporated business cards from their favorite restaurants, theatre tickets, menus and other "couple memorabilia" in a kind of collage with graphics suggesting husband and wedding and marriage. She, unpuzzled by his intent, said yes! Not cheap, these custom puzzles run from $3.00 per piece and up, but they're hand cut and made of mahogany.

Reggie - an Elms puzzle
You can find puzzles of optical illusions, 3-D puzzles, two-sided puzzles and borderless puzzles. Tiny puzzles, huge puzzles - puzzles cut in and by interesting techniques. The first commercial jigsaws which were maps, appeared in 1760 according to wikipedia and were used for educational purposes.

A dandy 3D puzzle from Wrapables
James Merrill wrote a famous poem, "Lost in Translation" which begins with him as a child waiting with his nanny for the arrival of a rented wooden puzzle coming from a shop in New York. The poem is wonderful - even I can understand the metaphor and the puzzles within puzzles. A line I liked: "The plot thickens as all at once two pieces interlock".You can read it here:

You can purchase jigsaw cutters and start a home business making custom puzzles with a kit sold by several companies online. Here's a link to one.

 Puzzle Presspuzzle machine

1 comment:

  1. We recently gave our brother some puzzles. It was great. It gave him something to occupy his time besides just tennis. and he really enjoyed them. I don't think I'll be buying the jigsaw, though.