Our jigsaw puzzle hobby

The hubs and I love jigsaw puzzles but haven’t worked on any together since our kids were born.

One day, we opened an old box containing an MC Escher puzzle that I had completed the day before K was born (back in 2008!), and realised that though we had carefully sectioned it up into 4 large pieces for storage, it had gotten messed up (probably the girls shook the box or something). So we started working on it again. And re-ignited our addiction to this, completing it again in a few days.

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Alas, we realised that some pieces have disappeared forever. Oh wells. At least we have a photo of the completed version.

I really like MC Escher’s work, and we have completed at least two puzzles based on his images. One was as above, and the other had illogical staircases on it. I had helped a friend complete Drawing Hands before too, at age 16.

When we started dating, we spent quite a lot of time completing large jigsaw puzzles. One 2000 piece jigsaw of the Keukenhof gardens (that looks a little like the photo below) hangs in my parents’ home now.

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We sought further challenges, so we even completed a double sided 1000-piece puzzle, featuring two Monet paintings in his classic impressionist smeary pastel colours! The other side is covered by the picture frame backing; it depicts his famous water lillies.

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This is a 1000 piece puzzle of Van Gogh’s famous cafe painting.

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Someone gave us the puzzle below. We didn’t like the picture, but embarked on it anyway since it was a Ravensburger brand puzzle (high quality, so it’d still be fun instead of frustrating to make, as we have experienced with lesser brands).

imageAfter we completed that, we were raring for more, so we bought two boxes from Amazon. And so affordable on Amazon, since they qualify for free shipping to Singapore. The Streets of France puzzle below was only $13.45 USD.

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These days, I only feel like doing puzzles from Ravensburger because they are really the best. A jigsaw professional junkie corroborates that too! I’ve had enough with jigsaw pieces that are a bit more flimsy, so they bend easily, or fit in a space, even though it’s not supposed to (even Clementoni is not great, though they are a relatively expensive Italian brand).  None of that with German Ravensburger.

Its puzzle pieces work on a patented “Softclick Technology”, which you can feel when you put two pieces together. And it is very obvious that though the pieces look similar, they are almost ALL unique, and it is totally obvious whether a piece belongs, when you try to put it down.

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I chose this piece, cos I loved the riot of colour. The hubs wouldn’t have chosen to buy it, but he said it really grew on him as he went along. Actually, it’s easier to assemble than it looks because when you pick up a piece, it is easy to see where it roughly belongs. As opposed to pieces with large swathes of blue or green (case in point coming up next).

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The piece below is what he chose. And roughly the same thing happened with me.  I thought it was a very ho-hum scenary jigsaw. But when completed, this photo of Yosemite Valley (which I had only visited in early Dec once) is quite mesmerising. All the more because I know every inch of this photo now, having scrutinised each piece to see where it could fit.

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K helped out quite a bit in the Streets of France piece, as it was easy for her to join up pieces of 5-10 that belonged to the same ‘area’. This one was comparatively more difficult (esp the bottom half), but we generously let her fit the last few pieces in.  (The hubs and I are very competitive about who gets more pieces fitted in correctly during an one session.) This one took us about 5 days. We’d spend an hour or so in the evenings on it, and more hours over the weekends.

We are such aficionados that we watch youtube time-lapse videos on professional folks completing jigsaws. There is method to the madness. The strategy for pieces that are the same colour, or quite indistinguishable on where they may belong? Arrange them according to shape like so. You can then tell, roughly what shape you need next, since the ‘neighbouring pieces’ create negative space for at least two sides of the next piece.

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Here are some close up shots of the beauty of God’s creation.

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And the test of puzzle quality? How well it ‘lifts up’ when completed. This one holds together so well even when you lift it up. Most puzzles of other brands will crumble.

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With that, we have run out of puzzles to make. For now. We’ve decided that since we enjoy the process so much, we’re happy to dissemble the two above, and swop them with other Ravensburger puzzles, belonging to friends whom we meet up with regularly. So everyone gets to do many puzzles without having to buy and store too many! 

Also, the holidays are coming, and I think this is a great activity for kids (imagine the hours it’ll keep them occupied, hiak hiak). And there’s a puzzle for every age. From 100 large pieces to 300, 500, and more… We’ve read that this is a good right-brain and left-brain activity, so if they get addicted to it, all the better!

To the hubs: Glad that we have this mutual hobby, and I suppose this will be a big part of growing old with you. When the kids have flown the nest, we will always have a special jigsaw table, for more and more ambitious projects (the 32,000 piece Keith Haring one?), till the day our eyesight fails us!

  6 comments for “Our jigsaw puzzle hobby

  1. Carol Lim
    November 6, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    i have the same Escher puzzle, and I just bought the Ravensburger Streets of France puzzle after reading your post. We have other Ravensburger puzzles for our boys too!

    • November 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Cool! What do you do with your puzzles after they are completed? Do you dissemble or usually frame up?

      • Carol Lim
        November 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm

        i disassembled them and packed them back into the box. Not enough wall space to hang them!

  2. November 9, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    So nice that you can both do puzzles together! I love that method of laying out the pieces neatly by shape – so clever! I used to have piles of different colours and go mad trying to fit them in, especially those scenery puzzles! My dad loves jigsaws too and we completed many together, including a 1500 piece Mickey mosaic one. I think my eyes nearly fell out. But so fun! I’ve only recently restarted buying puzzles again. Can trade next time!
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    • November 16, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Glad you are re-embarking on jigsaws too! Will be fun to trade! 🙂

  3. May 31, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Thanks for sharing your jigsaw puzzle experiences. It was a joy to read about you sharing this hobby with your husband! You have completed some really nice (and some very tough-looking) ones. 🙂 It was fun to see the types of puzzles you chose to do together and to hear about your experiences with them. I grew up doing puzzles at home with my parents and grandparents, but have only recently began doing them regularly again. There are so many nice ones out there. I’ll have to keep an eye on your blog to see your future works of art. I really like your photos of the puzzles-while-in-progress.

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