Outside Inside

Hi. At present, I cut three sizes of matchbox puzzles. The mini and medium are on 1/8″ birch plywood and the large matchbox is on 1/4″. Here’s a picture of the backs of a couple of the minis.

A duo of minis. About 10 pieces each.

Now look at the edge pieces and the inside pieces. Because it’s such a small area, there are almost no inside pieces. One, two, maybe three if I cut extra small. And I don’t want to cut anything so thin or small that they feel like they might break. I always want them to feel good. And If I want interlocking pieces, I have to make (almost) every piece have connections to two other pieces. One on each side. This gives me (again, almost) no room to play.

And then the picture forces me to do some other things. I like to cut the pieces with some respect to the image. The middle top piece on the left puzzle up there is probably a face that I didn’t want to hack in two. Probably Mona Lisa. (You’re welcome, Mona.)

Now’s here’s a medium:

A lonely medium. About 20 pieces.

So now here on the medium matchbox puzzle, I have more room (it’s a bigger area) and can mess around a little. Be a little more creative. I can cut out a big swirl in the middle. One that doesn’t really need to connect to every piece around it. (It’s absolutely one of the clouds in the sky of Starry Night.) I can also cut pieces with more connects. There’s one there that has at least 6 connects depending on how you define them.

Now let’s look at a large matchbox:

A solo large. About 25 pieces.

It has a little more area and a lot more heft going to the thicker wood. But just that little bit more lets me get more creative.

There’s that medusa head looking thing on the top left. I got to do knobs of a bunch of different sizes and shapes. I see arrows and double and triple knobs. I get a buzz (or warm fuzzy, if you will) out of a puzzle that works out like this. I even got a serendipitous chance to cut a dog shape you can see on the bottom row of pieces. (Sometimes things work out that way. It’s not planned. Someday I’ll put up a tirade on figural (“whimsy”(yuck! hate the name, dislike the practice))pieces.)

I would love it if I could make every puzzle piece in every puzzle I do not look like any puzzle piece that you think of when you think of a puzzle piece. (Yes, I know you may have to read this sentence a couple times to get my meaning. Maybe I should have used commas somewhere. Maybe you could read it out loud. Don’t worry about it. It’s so important and I’m so happy with the statement that I guarantee I will repeat it again in other posts. It’s just that meaningful.)

So am I complaining? Maybe. A little. But I’m thinking more about the constraints of the canvas I’m working with. (Ooh, look, he’s an artist now. Oh, wait, an artiste.) (Hey, I can call myself whatever I want. I’m the Chief Creative Officer. I need to print up some business cards. And you can bite me. Not really. Just figuratively. Figuratively bite me.)

I guess I can see one of the reasons why most hand cutters will cut huge puzzles. You just don’t have to be so precious to get fully interlocking. Most everything you cut will be inside. Do dropouts. Do eggs. Throw figurals in there. Do a bunch of repetitive strip cuts. (By the way, if you do this, you suck. Strip cutting is lazy. Repetitive pieces are lazy. Stop this. You’re an embarassment. Go work in an office somewhere. Someday I’ll do a blogpost on my real feelings about strip cutting. And laser cut puzzles. Not today, though. I need to wrap this up. Nobody’s going to read this far.)

Thanks for your attention.


Hand In A Glove

As I was listening to a bootleg of David Bowie playing Lou Reed’s Waiting For The Man, I cut the last pieces and sanded this 20 piece matchbox puzzle. Here are a few of the pieces.

I like them. They speak to me (as they say). Now in what way could those pieces possibly fit together? What must the intertwining pieces look like? How could that climber/bowler/whatever on the right get to the snailish thing on the bottom left or the 45rpm record insert looking thing at the top? Well, let’s see.

So those are the other pieces. The roads and bridges that connect the islands from the upper picture. Obvious, aren’t they? I should have guessed, right? Here’s the whole thing assembled:

So, what’s my point? I think I’m saying I can’t guess what the puzzle will end up like. I like to say the puzzle is a song and my cutting is the performance. No two will ever match. They may be alike in some ways but they will always be different in other ways. This is their purpose. This is their value. This is why hand cut puzzles are special. They cannot be machined. Laser cut puzzles aren’t this. Die cut puzzles aren’t this.

Welcome to this performance.

And thank you for your attention.


Birthday Cuts

Craig here. So I cut these two puzzles on my birthday. At about 9:30pm.

Starry Night – Reverse

I sanded them in a 60 degree garage/workshop while listening to the song Woodstock by Crosby Stills Nash and Young (written by Joni Mitchell, if you didn’t know.) Lori took the pictures.

The Great Wave by Hokusai – reverse

I feel like that’s the most hippie/boho/far out thing I could be doing. These are quite psychedelic in a two-color way, you know? I really like the way they turned out. I sure couldn’t have planned them like this. Happy birthday to me.

Thanks for your attention.


Dragon Stand Up Puzzle

Here’s a brand new stand up wooden puzzle design! It started off as a customer request, but it was so fun, it’s now a part of our stable of wooden puzzle animals. 6″ x 8.5″ and made from locally sourced Red Oak.  Plus some miniature friends.

6″ x 8.5″ Dragon Puzzle