Daily Archives: May 6, 2018

To Puzzle or not to puzzle. That is the question…

Do you like working jigsaw puzzles? I do. I don’t do it often enough, but when I do, it’s almost always a family or friend affair, which is most often the best part of puzzling. 🙂

So, when I open a new box, I start by sorting out all the edge pieces. (I know people that do those puzzles with no straight edge, but I like the definition of corners and size.) In a 1,000 piece puzzle, that takes some time. My friend’s daughter suggested, when done with a puzzle, putting the edge pieces in their own baggie. Is this cheating? I don’t think so. You’re not leaving them together, you’re just eliminating that initial sort. I like that idea!

The first puzzle was designed back in the 1760’s. John Spilsbury, an Englishman and cartographer, mounted a map on a thin sheet of wood and cut around the county boundaries to form “dissected maps” for educational purposes. But, I read that adult puzzling for entertainment didn’t become a fad until the early 1900s. Wood puzzles were cut manually using a jig saw. Hence the name.

Nowadays, the puzzles are cut with a die. A sharp, metal ribbon bent into the correct formation. It can take 400 hours to shape the die, then the cardboard adhered picture is sent through the die cut press and the die is forced down under high pressure, making the puzzle cut in one pass. The puzzle “sheets” go through a machine that breaks them up and they get packaged.

Of course, the future seems to be moving toward digital puzzles, but I like the tactile feel of physical puzzles. Not just because they help me clear my mind and think (great for problem-solving), but also for the times I work them with family (like at our winter cabin each year) or with a friend.

Speaking of which, this puzzle is one a friend gave to me. She and her husband visited this town, Manarola, one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terra in Italy. So, as we got together over the course of a week or two, I got to learn more about their travels and the town and area, along  with the usual discussions about kids and life. These are the life memories I love, spending time on a project like this with someone who’s friendship I treasure.

Manarola. Photo courtesy of Doug Benedetti

So I highly recommend grabbing a big board and a puzzle. Invite a friend or loved one to join you and start sorting. It’s good for the blood pressure, for the brain, for dexterity, and, well, I can’t see a down side to doing jigsaw puzzles at all. Except maybe the time suck. They can become addicting. 🙂

Happy puzzling!

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