My wife and I really enjoy working on Jigsaw Puzzles.
- Generally we do 1,000 piece puzzles, though occasionally smaller ones. My wife usually starts the borders; I do a lot of the sorting. She likes assembling lines and forms within the puzzle; I usually get the broad areas of sky or uniform color. We both prefer pieces with odd shapes over the standard jigsaw puzzle shape (with four corners). We have different styles - one tends to keep the box lid in one hand, or constantly trying pieces. Another prefers to just look until the piece can be spotted by shape or color and then picked up and placed (hopefully). Sometimes it helps to stand, or move around to different sides of the table; and while a good light (like an Ott Lite) is helpful, sometimes pieces can found when the light is dim and the shapes stand out more.
- For a 1,000 piece jigsaw it takes about 30 minutes to get all the pieces sorted the right way up with the "straight edge" pieces separated out and double this time to sort all the pieces into rough groupings of color. The fastest way to do a jigsaw is to sort all the different colors into groups before you begin. I find that I do periodic sub-sorts and re-sorts as the puzzle progresses. For areas of uniform color, it helps to lay out the pieces by "shape" into groups on a light sheet of paper based on the number and arrangement of the "knobs" and "slots" around the pieces. We each have our own mental vocabulary for the describing pieces in our minds - I look for "w's," "ducks", "hatchets", "spades", etc.
- Five hundred piece puzzles take a day or two, One Thousand pieces usually take a couple of weeks. Of course it depends on how much sustained time is put in, as opposed to walking by and taking a minute to stick in a piece or two. Although it may seem odd, it will takes four times as long to do a 1,000-piece jigsaw as it will to do a 500-piece jigsaw. This is because each time the number of pieces is doubled, it quadruples the difficulty. Before starting a 4,000 piece jigsaw, bear in mind that it will take sixty four times longer to complete it than it takes to complete a 500 piece one!
- A couple of puzzles we have glued, but most get taken down, with the edge pieces, and sometimes, various sections bagged separately.
- If you are missing a piece - Serious Puzzles haa some amusing hints to finding the lost piece, plus links to varous manufacturers and a link to The Jigsaw Puzzle Doctor who can custom make a replacement. (If Only I had know this before taking the couple I am missing pieces for!)
- They are a lot of entertainment for a small price. Considering that the cost of a new puzzle isn't much more than a meal for two at a fast food establishment, and even less than the cost of a movie for two, we get a lot of hours of pleasure working both singly and together on them.
- They are adaptable to both solitary and social activity, and can be worked on at any pace. We often have a puzzle in process under our dining room tablecloth.
- Working on a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to reduce stress, and keep the brain active, providing hours of relaxation activity! The brain needs exercise, too, for optimum health and well-being. The importance of keeping our brains well-tuned only increases with age. A combination of puzzles including Jigsaws and Sudoku (or crosswords) are supposed to be good for sharpening the mind - exercising different mental processes of logic and pattern/shape recognition.
Jigthings has a lot of information about Jigsaw Puzzles on its pages including how they are made and fascinating facts.
Some Puzzle Sellers:
Some Jigsaw Types::
American Jigsaw Puzzle Society
- Jigsaw puzzles typically come in 300-piece, 500-piece, 750-piece, and 1,000-piece sizes. The most common layout for a thousand-piece puzzle is 38 pieces by 27 pieces, for a total count of 1,026 pieces. The majority of 500-piece puzzles are 27 pieces by 19 pieces. Children's jigsaw puzzles come in a great variety of sizes, rated by the number of pieces. Stores like "Dime" stores, Target or Walmart carry inexpensive puzzles; better quality ones can found online or in bookstores. Thrift shops and garage sales often have used puzzles really cheap - though you take a chance that pieces may be missing.
- There are all sorts of subject matter: Famous paintings, Scenery (both photos and paintings), Fantasy, Nostalgia, Wildlife, Cartoons, Holidays, etc. The nature of the image especially if there are large areas of similar color or patterns or low contrast may be a significant factor in its difficulty. The cut of the pieces is another factor.
- "Shaped" puzzles do not have a square outline of edge pieces. There are round puzzles and odd shapes that sometime make the edge pieces challenging to find and assemble.
- "Whimsies" refers to puzzles which have some pieces cut into recognizable shapes of animals and household items.
- "Floor" puzzles have big pieces and are primarily designed for younger children.
- "Wasgij" ("Jigsaw" spelled backwards) - is a different kind of puzzling experience. The picture on the box is not what you have when the puzzle is assembled. What will be the outcome of the hilarious situation shown on the puzzle box? What are they seeing? Complete the puzzle and the scene has changed, giving you a glimpse into the future. These puzzles come from Holland.
- "3-D Puzzles" are usually made of foam and have to be assembled in a particular order.
- " Photo-mosaic" are very difficult because the picture is seen from a distance, but the pieces are of lots and lots of tiny pictures
- Puzzle makers have come up with all sorts of more difficult puzzles, including "double-sided" puzzles, extremely repetitious designs, or large numbers of pieces. These often end up as "presents for people you hate!".
- The World's Largest Jigsaw Puzzle has 24,000 pieces.
Jigzone - Online Puzzles
Some Puzzle publishers:
- Ravensburger and F.X. Schmid (Owned by Ravensburger) High quality adult and children's puzzles made in Germany. Shaped pieces.
- Springbok No longer made by Hallmark. No two pieces are alike. Bookstore puzzles.
- Great American Puzzle Factory makes the inexpensive puzzles found in box stores.
- Educa High quality puzzles made in Spain.
- BitsandPieces apparently manufactures some of their puzzles which they sell exclusively.
- SunsOut - Our current favorite, they have a lot of puzzles.
- Trefl USA Childrens and Panoramic Puzzles
- Ceaco Children's Puzzles
- Buffalo Games Quality puzzles - Photomosiacs, Rockwell and Disney
- Jumbo (Falcon) Netherlands Game Company that makes puzzles with a new high tech method, including Wasgij puzzles.
- Heye German puzzles using cartoon art
- White Mountain Specialty and Nostalgic Puzzles
- ClementoniItaly - Fine Art and Photo Puzzles and Games
- Castorland The leading producer of puzzles in Poland
- Cobblehill Canadian Jigsaw Puzzle maker
- Piatnik Austrian Puzzles - Famous impressionists artists
- Serendipity Notabl;e for their graphics and tight fitting pieces.
- TDC Games Zany puzzles and games. Eco-friendly products.
- Milton Bradley is now owned by Hasbro, with a reduced product line.
Jigsaw Puzzling Accessories Available:
Puzzle Mats: Puzzle Buddy and other roll up mats . . . Portfolio Cases . . . Nesting Boxes and sorting trays . . . Puzzle Glue
Puzzle Frames (which hold the pieces together without glue) for hanging them . . . Storage systems . . . Puzzle Pro - a folding puzzle table . . . Ott Lighting.
History of Jigsaw Puzzles:
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- The first jigsaw puzzle was made around 1760, when John Spilsbury, a British engraver and mapmaker, mounted a map on a sheet of wood that he then sawed around each individual country. Spilsbury used the product to aid in teaching geography. After catching on with the wider public, this remained the primary use of jigsaw puzzles until about 1820. Originally they were called "Dissected" puzzles.
- Originally jig-sawn from sheets of wood; in the 1880's, cardboard began to be used; and then in the 1920's, mass production using Die cutting techniques brought in the golden age of Jigsaws. But it wasn't until the 1950's that good quality puzzles were produced. Some puzzles are now available using Laser or water-jet cutting techniques. Here are some of the Cutting Styles of various manufacturers
- Jigsaws continued to be extremely popular during the Depression years. A good deal of entertainment for a small price adaptable to solitary or group activity, and occupying one's time enjoyably for hours. And "recyclable," in that one could break the puzzle up completed, to be built again later or passed on to another family member or friend.
- The quality of printing has improved substantially in recent years producing exceptionally beautiful art worthy of hanging on walls. While we tend to prefer paintings, there are outstanding photographs as well. With all the hundreds of puzzles being produced and marketed today in bookstores and online, Jigsaw enthusiasm persists.
© 2010 Barry McWilliams