Puzzles in the Time of Pandemic
As you know, house cleaning, online shopping and watching my baby robins has taken up a lot of time during this “Stay at home” Pandemic. Another activity that I use for enjoyment and challenging my brain is completing jigsaw puzzles. I am about to start my 6th. All photos in this post are from the one I just completed.
First, when people hear that you like to do jigsaw puzzles, you often become the recipient of gifts of such. To my friends and relatives: please do not buy any for me. I consider a puzzle to be as personal as a book; I would never presume to buy a book for a friend without a specific title or author being mentioned.
A puzzle has to have a pleasing picture and has to not be “impossible,” viz, mostly all one color. I prefer ones created by the artist Charles Wysocki, who specialized in American folk art, particularly during the horse and buggy era. The puzzles are very doable and the enjoyment of building an image that I like is rewarding and pleasant. I like the pieces to be interlocking.
Here’s the process I follow: first I choose the picture. This one is quite nice with bright colors, and all the components one usually finds in a Wysocki puzzle: horses, people in period clothing, old timey buildings that house such enterprises as a saloon, rooms and board, a gambling casino and a bakery, among others. There’s always a heart in his paintings, here in the Ace of Hearts on the Gambling Casino (also after his name in the corner).
The first step for me is getting the frame. I make note of the size, pencil the dimensions
in on my portable piece of poster board, and go about sorting. While I’m looking for edge pieces, it makes sense to sort all else, so I do, using paper bowls. In this way, I won’t have to look later for certain parts of the picture. For this puzzle, my sorting included each building, people, horses, cherry trees, sky (blue and white) and lettering. Anything that didn’t sort easily was put in the bottom part of the box. This puzzle came with a large picture of the completed painting which was very helpful.
I encountered a problem with the frame: after it was put together, I noticed on one side that some element was not in its proper location relative to something else. Turns out, although it looked as if certain pieces joined each other, they had to be rearranged … tight construction! On another side, it appeared that 2 pieces were missing (I always find them later) but, on inspection, the measurement was wrong. Leaving space for those 2 pieces, it was too long! Again, I had to carefully peruse each connection until I found the error, connect correctly and … with no missing pieces, the side was perfect and the right measurement! Whew!
After the frame, I decided to put all the lettered signs together and from there, fill in the buildings with people in front of them. The cherry trees and sky came next, filling in some other spaces along the way as I discovered a piece sorted in the wrong pile, or found it in the “other” box.
Next I decided to do the red barn, easily having been sorted because of its bright color, followed by the horses and, finally, all the bushes and dirt where the horses were.
This was one of my favorite puzzles to do. Always, when I am finished, I take it apart and take a short pause before starting another. My husband always asks why I don’t use paste applied to it in order to frame and display it. Not being a puzzle person, he simply doesn’t understand … the enjoyment comes from the doing and all the pleasure one gets from finishing, not hanging it up as though it were a piece of art!