Saturday, February 23, 2019

Best ever jigsaw puzzles

Speaking of all the snow we've had lately, assembling the snowy bits of a jigsaw puzzle can be pretty amazing when the picture's artist is Lawren Harris.


When I was at university I had a part time job staffing a small art gallery that had a few Group of Seven paintings on the walls, and I loved passing the hours gazing at them instead of working on essays for my courses (that sounds obvious but look how long the Hugs are here... I love writing like I love breathing) - there was just so much to see in each one.  I knew nothing about art at the time but I feel pretty sure I recognized Harris' particular style when I spotted this puzzle at a local (non-chain!) bookstore just before Christmas and bought it to play with over the break.


DIVERSION ALERT


Seriously though: jigsaw puzzles.  Why???

What is the point of making something, breaking it apart, and putting it back together again only to break it apart again and put it into a box you have to store somewhere until some magical future date at which you will have forgotten the process of reassembling this particular one?  Or worse, glue it onto a board so you can frame and hang it, making you seriously question each puzzle you start as your free wall space continues its slow agonizing decline into extinction?

I mean if you find the process of restoring order to disorder calming, why not clean the house and have something a bit more lasting to show for your time? And if you love the mental challenge, what about a nice space-efficient word puzzle that also expands your vocabulary?


DIVERSION OVER


I have tried every possible angle and I can see no point - none - in owning or completing jigsaw puzzles.

And yet I am totally addicted to them.  There is nothing like drifting over to a table with a jigsaw puzzle on it, and putting in a few pieces or thirty, and then drifting away again until you get totally obsessed and finish it off.

(which is not to say I have a ton of jigsaw puzzles, because I broke my teeth on yarn when it comes to self-restraint, having at great length recognized that time and space are finite things.  I limit myself to one for Christmas at home, and one for summer at the cottage.)

Apart from the theoretical peeves, I have a practical peeve with jigsaws and it is the papery dust you release when you first open the bag.

Well, that and too-thin puzzle pieces that don't give you a satisfying sense of achievement when you put a piece in its correct spot.  But the dust thing is the biggie because when you open the bag, you have to somehow separate the offcut dusty bits from the actual pieces if you're going to avoid a lumpy underside to each one, and a big mess on the table where you're working.  Or in my case, on the board you set on the table.

Side note: these Masonite boards are a genius solution to working on a table with unfortunately-placed leaves in it, or a cloth on it when you need a hard smooth surface, and they come in multiple sizes.  I use mine for writing, note-making, setting under my sewing machine, painting... basically everything that isn't eating a meal.  I've also used them successfully to convert non-stacking shelves into stackable ones and often wonder: is there nothing Masonite can't do?  I got mine at a local art-supply store and they win my top review level of Yum.

Back to our story: you can imagine how surprised I was when I opened up the bag of Lawren Harris pieces just after Christmas and THERE WAS NO DUST!  None!  I was able to start the puzzle straightaway, while my enthusiasm was still high, and finish it all in a few days without ever having to tidy up little pools of the stuff. It still feels like a miracle, and February is almost over.

I've tried all puzzles from all the generally-stocked manufacturers at this point and while I do love the size of Ravensburger pieces best, as they are a bit smaller and make the puzzle slightly more of a challenge, I love the surface smoothness and instant gratification of this brand even more:

Pomegranate Puzzles

Not to mention their amazing array of picture options.  They even sell images from the London Transit Museum!  which is, in case I never mentioned it, my favourite place in the world for art, owing to their commissioning of poster art from fantastic artists during the peak years of history that I love to study the most.

It's almost enough to make me want to buy more puzzles.*


*spoiler alert - OF COURSE I BOUGHT MORE PUZZLES.  Next up is a Tom Thompson, though I am staying true to my code and won't open it till we get to the cottage in July.

Oh: and in case you were wondering why snow sections are interesting to  assemble in this puzzle, it's because Mr. Harris used colours other than white to paint them.  I am not a better painter from working on this thing, but I have a much better appreciation for what goes into creating art, and that's a pretty good outcome I think.