Everyday I’m Puzzlin’: How to become a pro puzzle builder with tips from Everything Vail Valley
When I speak about my fervent interest in jigsaw puzzles, a lot of people will reply “How do you find the time?” or “Wow, you must be bored.”
Boredom has a little bit to do with it, and in times like these I’m willing to bet you’re feeling a little bit of boredom as well. If you’re finding yourself having the time and need a cure for your boredom, dust off your old jigsaw puzzle and start building.
The origins of jigsaw puzzles go back to the 1760s when European mapmakers pasted maps onto wood and cut them into small pieces. Today’s puzzles have evolved into 3D, virtual, odd shaped, and the seemingly impossible one-colored jigsaw puzzle.
Over the last couple years I’ve put together more than 40 puzzles and almost always have one on our dining table in the process of being completed. Here are my tips to a successful jigsaw puzzle build.
- Flip over all pieces front side up. Easy task, but saves you a bunch of time not having to flip over pieces throughout the build.
- Build the border. Look for flat sides and build out the entire border. This is the tip you probably already know.
- Group similar colors. Now, you have a bunch of pieces that are not border pieces. Start grouping non-border pieces into similar colors. If you have pieces with wording on them or really distinct clues put them in a different group.
- Pick worded pieces and start piecing together. These are the easiest because all you have to do is spell the completed word.
- Pick similar colors and start piecing together. Pick a group of similar colors and start building out that color group.
- Rinse and repeat. Pick another color and go to work on that group. Do not worry about pairing the whole puzzle, just focus on colors and patterns for now.
- Get on a roll. Once you get a couple of pieces together, your confidence grows and pieces start to pop out at you.
- Take breaks to refresh your eyes. There is such a thing as puzzle fatigue: you haven’t pieced together any puzzle piece in quite some time and find yourself doubting your abilities. Take a break and rest your eyes.
- Frame the completed puzzle. Puzzles make great wall art, but I suggest framing first. Get a bottle of puzzle glue and apply it to the front size of the puzzle. Let the glue cure for 24 hours. Frame your puzzle and start building your very own gallery.
Jigsaw puzzles might not be the sexiest activity, but embrace the idea of piecing together the pieces to build a much larger piece of art. It’s dorky, but the end result is so satisfying. Plus, puzzling keeps your brain active and provides a simple form of entertainment for hours or days if you choose a large puzzle. It’s a great activity for kids, older generations and everyone in between.
Tyler Buscemi is the digital content manager at Everything Vail Valley. Keep up to date with local businesses at everythingvailvalley.com.