Those of you who hang out on my Facebook page know that I have a thing for jigsaw puzzles. It goes back a LONG way. When I lived in Thailand as a child, my family spent its vacation in a house in the mountains of Malaysia. In the evening, after a day of hiking and playing, I would do jigsaw puzzles that had been left by previous vacationers. One time I finished all the puzzles in the house, just to see if I could.
So, to say I like jigsaw puzzles is an understatement. But in recent years, I’ve begun using them to help me plot. For some reason, once I start sorting pieces and trying to put them together, my mind goes into another place where it can easily work out thorny problems I’ve been having with my work-in-progress.
But I also do them for fun, like whenever I finish writing a book. Or on New Year’s Eve, since we rarely go to a party. I began the 1500-piece one above left, with a picture of libraries and fairies, on New Year’s Eve this year. I did the one to the right last year after my wicked father decided to give me the world’s smallest 1000 piece puzzle. Yes, that is my hand. I did it on a TV table–that’s how small it was.
I also have puzzle preferences. I like unique pictures with lots of color and variety (none of those all-black puzzles for me, thank you very much). If the picture is boring, I don’t find it enjoyable. But I want some challenge, which is why I like the big ones. If I had the space and the time, I would definitely want to do the world’s LARGEST commercially available puzzle (32.256 pieces, made by Ravensburger and costing $300).
One of these days I’m going to put jigsaw puzzling in a book. I can’t call them that (the jig saw wasn’t invented until the late Victorian age), but they did exist, cut out with marquetry saws. They were called “dissected maps.” That’s one directly to the left. Apparently, puzzles go back to the 1700′s, when they were primarily maps cut along the borders of the countries/counties, etc. (You can read all about the history of puzzles on a site called “Bob Armstrong’s Old Jigsaw Puzzles.”)
So this is my favorite hobby, something I can do for fun or work or both. I enjoy it either way!
Do you like jigsaw puzzles? What’s your favorite hobby? Have you researched the history of it? Do you have any antique examples of it? Do you do it just to relax or do you like a good challenge?