A Father’s Day Tradition

About 15 years ago, I created a puzzle for Catherine Weber, who wanted a very special Father’s Day for her husband, Paul. As he was a new father and puzzle lover, she wanted to surprise him with a unique gift.

She chose seven photographs and scanned a piece of William Morris wallpaper (Chrysanthemum design), which was custom made for their Arts and Craft style farm house in Southborough Massachusetts, to use as the background image for the puzzle.

She also asked for special pieces in the puzzle, their son, Benjamin’s birthdate, as well as his initials. I wrote about this puzzle in 2002, when Benjamin was 14 months old for our printed newsletter, here.

Now, all these years later, Catherine tells me that they put the puzzle together as a family every year around Father’s Day. It has become an important way to celebrate another year of their family life.

 

A Wonderful Photo Makes a Wonderful Jigsaw Puzzle

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

 

 

Family Puzzle for All Ages

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.

We have a Winner in the Facebook Holiday Photo Contest!

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

Announcing Custom Puzzle Facebook Contest!

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

Compulsion Motorboat Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle

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

 

A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear

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

Custom Jigsaw Puzzle Makes For a Special Wedding Day

 

I recently received this letter from a bride for whom I made a custom puzzle. She agreed to have me publish her story.

Enjoy, Jim

 

“When I was planning for my wedding, one of my ushers Tim contacted me and told me that he wanted to get us something special for our wedding–not just something from our registry but something meaningful to us.  He suggested a wooden puzzle since he knows that I love puzzles.  A customized wooden puzzle had the advantage of being durable and being designed to reflect us. I, of course, loved the idea; and Tim suggest we try to incorporate the puzzle into the wedding.

Picking the image for the puzzle was easy.  We had had designed for us a wedding logo.  The logo was our names (Jerry & Christina) stylized in a way that they could be read upside down or right side up.  We felt that using the wedding logo rather than a photograph would commemorate the day appropriately and fit the theme of a puzzle.

After much consultation, we decided that the best way to incorporate the puzzle into the wedding was to have our guests help complete the puzzle during the reception.  Due to the number of guests and the fact that many of the guests don’t speak English, rather than having each guest put in a piece, we had a representative from each banquet table put in a piece after
we toasted with the guests at that table.

In order for the representative from each table to put in the puzzle piece easily (we realized that not everybody is into puzzles as I am), the puzzle was designed with a number of special pieces that would be relatively obvious to place.  We used our names and our wedding date and a number of objects (such as a guitar, a tiger, a cross, etc.) that were special to us.

During the reception, the partially finished puzzle was on the table as Tim supervised guests inserted pieces.  Because the wooden puzzle was quite sturdy we were able to place the puzzle on an easel after all the guests finished.   At the end of the reception after we had said our thank yous, Jerry and I placed the last piece, a heart, into the puzzle together.   It was a wonderful way to end the evening with meaning.”

Christina Chan-Park

PS.  Since the puzzle commemorated the wedding with one of my favorite hobbies, we ended up commemorating the wedding with
one of Jerry’s favorite hobbies too–comic books!

 

Jigsaws in Middle School

Teaching inner city special ed kids has always been a challenge. They have short attention spans and would much rather be active than reading or listening. Studies have shown that spatial intelligence interacts positively with mathematics so, as an experiment, a 6th grade teacher introduced my puzzles to her special ed class.

Of course the kids loved them. What 6th grader wouldn’t? Here is something they can do with a clear but difficult goal, a put-together puzzle. Normally, making puzzles is no substitute for reading, writing & arithmatic but something must be said for active minds working hard and having fun. The most skilled and enthusiastic boy (below) is also good at math. Now the classes end each week with puzzle time Friday afternoon.

Over the years since I started making puzzles, 1986, I have made more flawed puzzles than I care to admit. If they were pillow cases, they would have been seconds. They are OK but not good enough to ask money for. I am glad an imaginative teacher found a good use for some of them.

Marblehead Girl’s Swim Team

This is my first blog since before Christmas so it is appropriate that this year starts with an upbeat story. For the first time the Marblehead High School girl’s team won the state championship. The meet was at the Harvard pool. 31 teams competed but only with each team’s fastest swimmers. All afternoon Marblehead exchanged the lead with Wayland, a prennial winner. Comming into the last event, a relay, Wayland was slightly ahead. Marblehead won the relay and the championship by one second. It was David vs Goliath. Wayland had 19 swimmers, Marblehead 7. The Boston Papers were there. A Herald reporter christened the Marblehead team The Magnificent 7.

My wife asked me to design and make puzzles for the swimmers and coach. A mother took a good picture. In the upper center of the puzzle my signiture cat is surrounded by fish. All other silhouettes are female. The cat is too.  She comes from a cartoon by Albert Dubout that shows her leading her kittens across a war torn Paris street. Notice Olive Oyl , lower middle next to “Jane Bond” but no Popeye. I put in as many figure pieces as possible; that makes the puzzle easier. Swimmers are not necessarily avid puzzlers.