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.

Puzzle Design

Most of my puzzles are designed with a little more than 2 pieces per square inch. Thus a 15 3/4 x 19 3/4 puzzle has 311 square inches and about 700 pieces. I try to make the longest dimension of each piece longer than one inch and shorter than two.

I use three puzzle styles shown below. The one on the left is the one I started with and I still use it, most recently for “Rooster”. The sample shown is from the lower left corner because that is where my signature piece, the cat by the French cartoonist Dubout, is. The second style in the center uses more but smaller arcs. I used that style for “Gracie”. The style at right is different. It is based on a grid of equilateral triangles, not squares. Therefore three lines cross each other at a point rather than two.  Of course the grids are references and get put aside whenever a figure piece gets in the way which is most of the time.