The jig is up


Welp, I threatened it a couple of months ago. And now I finally pulled that trigger. Does it represent a danger to a person with my obsessive traits? Sure. But, I think it’s a mild obsession to have. In any case, when it comes to resisting this obsession, the jig is up.

So, when I decided to get back into jigsaw puzzles, I had to make a decision on where to “start up” again. I was a champ back in my youth, assembling puzzles of various piece counts and difficulty with reasonable skill and speed.

Now, I have the luxury of plenty of time and therefore no real need for speed. Well, except for the monthly cleaning crew. That does kind of put a roughly 30-day time limit on my puzzle solving skill.

But, being unable to accept the diminution of my ego that a “simple” puzzle would suggest, I opted for a stupidly hard one. Big “d’oh!” on that, of course.

Still, the decision is made, so let me walk you through some jigsaw basics:


Several key factors go into a successful puzzle assembling area:

– First, you need a flat, large workspace. Cue my dining room table for six that only I eat at.

– Then, you need something to cover the surface. Felt puzzle mats can be had for $19.99 on Amazon. Or, you can do what I do and use a bath towel. Easy!

Piece work

First rule of jigsaw puzzle work is: don’t lose any pieces. You have probably not done enough jigsaw puzzles in your life if you didn’t have one where a piece was “missing”. This is most often found on the floor or other adjacent area. Woe to you if it is inside a vacuum cleaner. Or gnawed by a pet.

Teensy, tiny and oh so many

This is especially critical when you have such teeny, tiny pieces. I mean, look at this box of crazy, small pieces. 1,000 of these things. Can you imagine?

Next, comes the sorting. I do this in three steps: sifting, shifting and spreading.

– Sifting is just running your hand through the pieces and picking out some that catch your eye (usually end pieces).

– Shifting is when I move the pieces from one box half to the other, again pulling out important pieces.

– Spreading is the final stage, just putting similar pieces on the work area for mass assembly.


Getting edgy

Yeah, it doesn’t look like I’ve gotten much done, but just look at that border!

Everyone who has worked puzzle has probably used this classic method to start their puzzles. Look for the flat pieces.

While that is pretty simple for your basic small to medium puzzles, even the end pieces are tough to find on big puzzles (and tougher with those tiny pieces I showed you before).

Still, the best part of building the puzzle edge is you get your spatial alignment down. Now you have a real feel for just where this section or that kind of fits in the final puzzle.

Picking the spots

This is another “no-brainer” type decision. Especially in a puzzle this tough.

All puzzles, crossword, anagram and jigsaw, have their “easy” spots. These are areas where the solving just goes smoother.

In jigsaws, it’s usually some unique section of the puzzle that isn’t repeated elsewhere. In this particular puzzle, it’s the book shelves, the only place where there is color in the puzzle.

After that, I thought to work on the hand holding the crystal ball. That’s when I came across the other special thing about working jigsaw puzzles: the “Aha!” moment.

In this case, after a huge section of white was assembled, I realized it was not the hand at the bottom of the puzzle, but the ceiling at the top. Aha!

Putting it all together

Next on the agenda

At the same time I bought this puzzle, I picked up some puzzle glue. I had some awesome puzzles when I was a kid that my Grandma helped me glue together and frame. I have no idea where they are today.

Still, I have a whole house to myself and plenty of bare walls. And, if I may, Escher is always cool to hang on a wall. I hope I can successfully glue this puppy together when I’m done. That will be an event unto itself (probably even worth another blog post).

Also with that purchase, I picked a new puzzle out. This one is just a fun thing. Probably not nearly as tough (see all the variances in color?), but still, at 1,000 pieces, it should take a while to complete.

No more squinting!

And, this one will be somewhat easier on the eyes, since, as you can see, the pieces are way bigger than my current puzzle.

Of course, same number of pieces, but bigger size pieces? That can only mean a bigger puzzle. And, that is indeed correct, with the next puzzle being about 50% larger than my current one.

I still should be able to manage it on the dining table, but I may have to shift the bath towel around. I am concerned there may not be as much room for spreading, either. We’ll see.

But, now I have a new problem. While wandering around on Amazon looking at puzzles, I can see there are a slew of them that interest me. Few that I would frame, mind you, but a bunch that look fun.

That tugging that I feel inside my brain? That’s my obsessive gene telling me the jig is up.

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