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!

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

  1. conniefischer

    I think working a jigsaw puzzles is so relaxing and it keeps the old brain active. I always had one going…until we got the kitties. That’s when I put the puzzles away. 🙂 However, I’m intrigued by the digital puzzles, but the screen would have to be HUGE! Thanks for sharing your love of puzzles. Good for you!

    • I completely agree they are good for the brain and the relaxation time. And oooh, kitties! I can just imagine what they would do to a puzzle. Thankfully, our Dude is 9 and puzzles are not his thing. Unless a piece falls on the floor. Then it’s fair game. Lol.

  2. I love jigsaw puzzles too. Right now I do them on the ipad but have one Rick and Linda got me for Christmas that I need to get started on. I agree that they are relaxers and that they are addicting. I used to glue them after they were put together and staple them to the garage walls.

  3. Another fan of jigsaw puzzles here. Love them. Like you, I tend to focus on the edges and corners first 🙂 Interesting about the history, especially how they got their name. Not sure about digital ones though, you’d miss out on the whole tactile feast!

  4. Thanks Laurie for this interesting post. Puzzling is a big pastime in our family, my sister in law has a special mat which rolls up if she needs the space. A friend has a board that she can move as required. My problem is that I start one, try to put the odd piece in place (after I’ve done the outside edges) but become absorbed and time passes! No digital for me, call me a dinosaur, but I too like the physical process, just frustrating when I finish and there is a piece missing!

    • I’m with you. Old school all the way. I do work on a board so I can move it. I’ve heard of those roll up boards, but this works for me. And yep, I can lose hours! Lol.

  5. Absolute puzzle crazy, me. Love them. Although I much prefer the real thing, I do now do digital ones as long as they are over 1000 pieces. I can sit and puzzle away on the laptop while Dave watches his sports on TV. 🙂

  6. There’s nothing like working a puzzle with friends or family; sitting and talking while puzzling together with no electronic screens anywhere in sight! My mom and I love to puzzle together (we call ourselves the Puzzle Posse!) Great post, and beautiful puzzle!

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