I love doing jigsaw puzzles, especially 1000 piece plus jigsaws and I am especially partial to Gibsons puzzles. Having built many different makes of puzzle over the years, I have to say that in terms of quality, composition and customer service, Gibsons are second to none. Their puzzle pieces are firm, sturdy and comfortable to work with and on the one occasion I found a newly purchased puzzle had some pieces missing and others damaged, no doubt due to a tussle with the cutting machine, I received a replacement without quibble after sending the purchase details to them, as per the instructions in the guarantee that comes with each and every puzzle.
The girls find my method for puzzling fascinating to watch, if not a little frustrating but then I can’t really blame them as I also often find my puzzling technique enough to try the patience of a saint and yet I can’t bring myself to break away from it which a psychologist would probably say is some sort of subliminal message, though about what is any ones guess.
“Look mum/mummy [depending on which of them is talking] that piece goes there,” one of the Mudlets will pipe up, pointing at an obvious join on the next row.
“Yes, I know,” is my response, “But I’m not there yet.”
“Why don’t you look at the picture?” is another commonly uttered suggestion.
“Not until I’ve finished,” I reply, much to their complete bafflement, after all what is the point of looking at the picture for help after the puzzle has been completed.
Puzzle completion is, for me at least, a very precise and ordered process, starting with the outer edge. This has to be completed before the first of the central pieces is added and I have been known to spend upwards of an hour looking for the last straight edge, sifting through every single one of the remaining 875 pieces, one piece at a time until it’s found and in place.
Only once the edge is complete, do I then start to fit the inner pieces, starting at the bottom of the puzzle, working my way up, row by row…….. and by that I mean, one completed row at a time …….. yep, just like the puzzle edge, I can spend hours looking for that one remaining single piece before moving onto the next row! I’m sure there is a medical name for my rigid puzzling process, no doubt ending with the word ‘pathic’, although I would like to say at this point that I don’t insist on completing each row from left to right, or vice versa. No, row completion can be carried out any which way …… just so long as it is completed before the next one is started.
As for the box picture, well as I hinted at earlier, once the puzzle has been started, the bottom section of the box is popped into the lid effectively rendering the picture unusable and I rely on my memory of the picture to help and guide me. Having the picture readily available during the build process is, in my mind, a bit like having the answers to a written puzzle in front of you and defeats the object of doing a puzzle. But that’s me and I get all hot and bothered about fabulous quality compost and spindly green sprigs popping out of said compost………
In case you’re wondering, I should also point out at this juncture that I don’t insist that the girls complete their puzzles this way.
Generally I find puzzling very relaxing and the first of my Mothers Day puzzles (Hidden Treasure) has given me a break from knitting. I finished it Monday afternoon (day after Mothers Day) and it was quite a hard one, taking me about 14 hours. Once the girls were tucked up for the night, I re-boxed the first puzzle and opened the second and boy oh boy, talk about challenging.
It took me over 2 hours just to complete the frame to start with which, when you consider that by some miracle I had actually managed to find every single one of the straightedges at the very start, shows just how difficult this particular puzzle is. The very subtle differences in colour, tone, size and shape of the edge pieces meant that I had initially put whole runs of pieces in the wrong place, leading to even more confusion, as I couldn’t join them onto the rest of the frame.
I have now been working on this puzzle, on and off, since Monday, for around 24 hours , often beyond midnight and progress has been painfully slow, due to the similarity of colours and tones. Last night (Friday) I finally reached the half way point but this puzzle has seriously challenged my rigidly precise puzzling method, as each row completed so far has had at least 3 pieces which have proved almost impossible to find and it has taken an average of just over 1.5 hours to finish each row. However, as I have now surpassed the half way point, the speed with which I complete the remainder of the puzzle should improve, as there are fewer and fewer pieces to hunt through but I can safely say that it will be a long time before I attempt this puzzle again. There are challenges and then there are soul destroying nightmares – anyone care to guess into which category ‘After the Rain’ falls.
In conclusion I can say that this particular puzzle whilst a beautiful composition, is not for the beginner, would try the resolve of even the most hardened of puzzlers and should not be entered into lightly!