The Technology Behind the Puzzles: A Video Interview

June 22nd, 2016

I am pleased to have been interviewed by WGBH this spring for their Auction In An Hour series.  Every year I donate a puzzle to their auction. This year I donated Jungle Scene and was pleased to be asked to do an interview with Chris Voss. He brought a film crew to my Altier in Marblehead and I demonstrated my machine on camera. I hope you enjoy it!

Jim

Custom Wood Jigsaw Puzzle, Figure Pieces, Fine Art Jigsaw Puzzles, Water Jet Technology , , ,

A Wonderful Photo Makes a Wonderful Jigsaw Puzzle

October 18th, 2015

New Custom Puzzle Features All Figure Pieces

 

Three Girls for Jigsaw Puzzle

In 2012, I received an order for a puzzle from a wonderful photograph of children playing dress-up. Here is the image. The same customer just ordered another puzzle with another beautiful picture (see at right).   The puzzle, below, is 14″ x 21.7″.

Three Girls Jigsaw Puzzle

The third image shows a new design full of figure pieces. Many figures take more than one piece.

jigsaw puzzle design with figure piecesWhile I am not sure that so many figures make for a better puzzle because they tend to make it easier to put together, but in this case, where there are so few different colors in the image, I think it works. Additionally, the light colors make the cuts less prominent and the end result is a prettier puzzle. The customer asked for the girls’ names be cut out, so I used a playful font.

Aside from the cut design, this puzzle shows the importance of a good picture. If you have an idea for a puzzle, send me a picture and we can discuss how to make it a wonderful puzzle!

 

Jim

 

 

Custom Puzzles, Custom Wood Jigsaw Puzzle, drop-out lettering, Family Jigsaw Puzzles, Puzzle Design, Wood Jigsaw Puzzle , , , , ,

Family Puzzle for All Ages

September 24th, 2014

Who can resist stopping to put in a piece of an unfinished puzzle laid out on the dining room table, especially a puzzle whose picture has yet to be revealed?  While it is still September, some have already begun thinking about holiday gifts. A wooden jigsaw puzzle is a great way to bring the family together (and away from staring at mobile devices.).

I have made many puzzles from family photos over the years, but this one is particularly special given it is an image of my son, Jimmy, and his family. This puzzle is 16″ x 20″. The design uses very large pieces so the kids could put the puzzle together, though they didn’t; they left that up to daddy. Everyone’s name is in the puzzle, one piece per letter. Many of the pieces are figure pieces. On the left, the picture of the puzzle was struck by the sunlight a bit which inadvertently showed the texture of the face of the puzzle and brought out some of the pieces. Lower left is a 3-leafed clover. Up from there is a snow leopard, lizard, locomotive and coal car.

If you would like to know more about creating a custom puzzle from your family photo, visit my website, or for more help, give me a call at 781-639-8162.

Custom Puzzles, Custom Wood Jigsaw Puzzle, Family Jigsaw Puzzles, Wood Jigsaw Puzzle

Port of Tripoli: A Long Lost Puzzle Returns

June 18th, 2014

The Port of Tripoli, Flemish School, signed JVO, c. 1650. 12 ¾" x 19 ¾", $460

The Port of Tripoli is one of the first puzzles I made at the very beginning of J. C. Ayer & Co. circa 1986.  The original was painted on wood. My brother Rick had it in his apartment in Paris. We propped it up in indirect sunlight and photographed it.  I had a Rollei and Rick had a 35mm Minolta . We used both slide and color negative film. Very amateurish but somehow we got a good result which made some of my first puzzles.

When we went digital, I lost the original. Recently we found a high quality digital copy while reworking the website. I t is a really good picture and a good puzzle. I think the unknown painter painted the mountain in a dream. The pastel colors of the mountain, sky and sea blend together to add a bit of difficulty for the puzzler.

If you’d like to try it, visit my website to order it here.

Custom Wood Jigsaw Puzzle, Exotic Art Jigsaw Puzzles, Fine Art Jigsaw Puzzles, Standard Puzzles, Uncategorized, Wood Jigsaw Puzzle

Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral: A Puzzle From an Old Family Recipe

February 12th, 2013

Many years ago, my great grandfather founded J. C. Ayer & Company, which provided remedies to customers around the world. This new puzzle features one of the original advertisements from Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral. Below, alongside a picture of the puzzle, you will find one customer’s accolades from an issue of Ayer’s Almanac from 1868, which was translated into many languages and distributed world-wide. This puzzle is 7″ x 11″ and has 174 pieces.

Ayer's Cherry Pectoral

Ayer's Almanac

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We have a Winner in the Facebook Holiday Photo Contest!

December 5th, 2012

Congratulations to Catherine Rafferty-Millett for winning our Holiday Puzzle Photo Contest! She got a whopping 58 likes on her photo!

We look forward to working with her to create a beautiful keepsake puzzle! When it is complete, we will share it with you here!

Stay tuned.

Jim

Custom Puzzles, Custom Wood Jigsaw Puzzle, Digital Photo Enhancement, Family Jigsaw Puzzles , , ,

Announcing Custom Puzzle Facebook Contest!

November 20th, 2012

Here at J. C. Ayer & Company, November makes us think of one thing above all else: Holiday Gifts. To get you started with holiday gift giving, we are kicking off a custom puzzle contest. One winner will win a custom or standard puzzle, maximum size 11″ x 14″, a $320 value!

To enter this content, post a photo on the J. C. Ayer & Company Facebook page that you think would make a good puzzle. Then, tell your friends to like the image. The person with the most likes on December 5, wins a standard puzzle or a custom puzzle with their image, delivered by Christmas!

Custom Puzzle Contest Rules

How to enter:

1) Post your best photo on the J. C. Ayer & Company’s wall on Facebook. (see this link on what makes a good puzzle) The photo to the right is a good example of a custom puzzle made from a customer family photo. Only photos submitted to the J. C. Ayer & Company Facebook page will be eligible to win. You may enter only one image per person. Please make sure to include a photo’s caption if you think it needs one.

2) Share the link to your picture with your friends and family and ask them to VOTE for your picture (and ask them to share the link with their friends, too!) To VOTE, they will need visit the J. C. Ayer & Company Facebook Page and then “Like” your picture. Also, please encourage your friends to “Like” the Facebook page the so that they can see the results on the contest.

Judging and Results:

1) The contest will run from Wednesday, November 21 to Tuesday, December 4th. The winning image will be determined by the picture with the most “Likes” at the end of the contest, and will be announced on the J. C Ayer & Company Facebook page and the Fresh Ayer News blog on Wednesday, December 5th.

2) The winning image will be profiled on the our Facebook page as well as our blog and will receive a custom or standard puzzle, valued at no more than $320!

3) Contest is open to all Facebook users, 18 years and older.

4) The prize includes shipment to an address in the United States. Should a non-US resident win the contest, they will be responsible for shipping fees, taxes and duties on the prize.

5) J. C. Ayer & Company reserves the right to use entries for marketing purposes including including on Facebook, the ayerpuzzles.com website, and printed material.

If you have any questions about the contest, please contact Catherine Weber (cweber@webermediapartners.com)

Thanks, and Holiday Shopping!

– Jim

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Make Believe Ballroom by Larry Rivers

October 15th, 2012

Make Believe Ballroom by Larry Rivers

Years ago this puzzle was in my catalog. I am putting it back on my website because I really like the picture and have redesigned small puzzles to have many more, smaller pieces. In spite of its size, Make Believe Ballroom has more than 200 pieces.

I am just old enough to have seen the great Disney films and Broadway musicals when they first opened though I was pulled away from the last episode of Fantasia, Walpurgisnacht, deemed too much for my tender young mind. That theatre and the songs from Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and others wonderfully fought the depression and the following war with laughter. Make Believe Ballroom is in the same spirit. Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire could have been dancing on that bed.

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Compulsion Motorboat Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle

August 22nd, 2012

The Compulsion puzzle in-progress

This is a story of a special puzzle that I recently made. My customer sent me two pictures of racing motorboats, one for the puzzle and one for the drop-out-lettering. We decided on an oval puzzle because a rectangular one would have too much unnecessary background. The final size was 10 x 15 inches. I used a design from an 11 x 14 puzzle so I had to modify the periphery. The picture above shows the design part-way made.

I wanted the name in the puzzle just as it is on the transom. I was glad that the picture was taken almost directly from astern so I could just trace the letters. The name was slanted to be parallel to the boat’s waterline. The letters were large enough so that the puzzle could be put together with or without them.

The finished Compulsion puzzle

 

Custom Puzzles, Custom Wood Jigsaw Puzzle, drop-out lettering, Fine Art Jigsaw Puzzles, Wood Jigsaw Puzzle ,

A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear

January 30th, 2012

Last fall, a customer asked me to make a puzzle from a tiny jpeg. I asked if she might have a better picture, but no luck. Moreover, the puzzle was to be for a friend who “had everything,” a dilemma that has happened to many of us in the past.

I spoke to a colleague who suggested using photo-editing software that works within Photoshop to make a copy of a photographic file to look like it had been painted in the style of a particular artist. We picked Vincent van Gogh. This produced the much larger picture shown below, very impressionistic, and almost unrecognizable from the original. The result was my best puzzle of last Christmas season.

This can happen to anyone who takes a picture with their mobile phone or even with a handheld camera on a low setting. And sometimes there is no other option but that small photo. If you want to create a puzzle with a low resolution photo, don’t give up. Send it along and we can work together to make a spectacular puzzle.

Jim

Original Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photoshopped image

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