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!





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.


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

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!


Three Times Three

Here is a picture of three of our granddaughters for an 11×14 custom jigsaw puzzle. The original pictures were “Photoshopped” into a collage by my son-in-law Jack Lee who is a musician by trade. He transformed his garage into a recording studio and records many acts around Los Angeles. Of course the resultant CDs need artwork so Jack trained himself in Photoshop. This is just an example of what can be done with a little imagination. A knowledge of Photoshop or similar software is a help but not really necessary because we can do that part. Really, your imagination is the limit.3x3a

Another advantage of a collage like this or especially the one in a previous blog dated September 29th. is that the individule pictures can be of lesser quality as they are not enlarged as much.

Jungle Scene

Here is another Haitian painting that is reproduced as a very good puzzle. We could find nothing about the painter who signs himself (or herself) MILLEVOIX. All we know is that he studied under, or more likely, was inspired by Henri Rousseau, also known as Le Douanier. It is only natural for Haitian painters to turn to France for inspiration. I designed the puzzle with 39 figure pieces, mostly animals, and 6 more figures made up of more than one piece. One of those bigger figures is a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, London to Edinburgh model*. I reference them for those of you who might be interested in trivia from the past.

Jungle Scene web

*That link might be broken. If so go to the top option:.rrch.ch, etc. 

Enough standard puzzles from Haiti though I must say good primitive art from Haiti makes great puzzles. Next week – combining images in Photoshop to make a fun puzzle.

Junior Olympics at Sandy Bay

Cape Ann is a bunch of granite thrusting its way into the Atlantic Ocean North East of Boston. Sandy Bay is a large harbor at the end of Cape Ann protected by a granite breakwater. There is a lot to say about this wonderful place, too much for a blog, so I will add two links for you to peruse. Starting in colonial times granite was quarried in the interior of Cape Ann and put on ships here to be sent up and down the East Coast and beyond. Learn more here. The breakwater is necessary because the harbor is open to the North East where most of the storms come from.

We were at Sandy Bay to help on the Race Committee for last summer’s junior olympic regatta. There were more than 300 kids sailing Optimist Prams (Opties) Lasers and 420s. See more pictures.


Start of a race the first day

return after the last race on the second day.

The top picture is home base before the first race. The white tents are on the granite pier. The quarries are closed now. The last blocks were sent to Boston for the Big Dig

The second picture is just after the start of one of the races for the 420s on the first blustery day. The 420 is the only two-man boat in the regatta. (“man” as in mankind or “Turn back o man, forswear thy foolish ways”. Drives some feminists nuts.) Acturally boys and girls mix equally. There are even some girl skipper, boy crew combinations. Look closely at some of the boats on the right. A few of the crews are out on trapezes. I was born too long ago and never did get on a trapeze. The closest was in Germany: Skipper:  “Beuh kommt!”. I pushed out from the gunwale, the puff hit, the mast broke and I ended in the drink.

The bottom picture is of one Laser and some Opties returning after the last race.

Back to puzzles next week. A charming standard puzzle of a still life collage.

Custom Jigsaw Puzzle

          This is a large and ellaborate custom puzzle that I made last year for a Christmas presant. It is about 16 x 20 inches with 700 or so pieces. I was asked to make names of the kids in the puzzle as pieces and put each name near each kid. The MARSHALL piece was over two inches long. Normally I would prefer to use drop-out-lettering (covered in a future post) but in this case it would have resulted in too many spaces in the puzzle. The added design made the puzzle much more than just a custom puzzle with a nice collage of pictures.


          Over the years I have made many large custom puzzles. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures so I can’t show them to you. One I especially remember started in 1994 when a couple came into the shop with pictures to be made into a collage for a 50th wedding anniversary. The center picture of the parents was a sepia toned black and white 5×7 enlargement of the parents on their wedding day. She was in a wool business suit and  “sensible” shoes. He was in his navy blues. He had weekend liberty from his ship in Boston to get married.