With many of us stuck in quarantine, it’s a good time to pick up a wholesome hobby to pass the time and relax yourself, and I’d like to suggest jigsaws as an enjoyable pastime. We recently put out this query:
For people who like to solve jigsaw puzzles, what do you like about doing jigsaws? Why do you do it? We’re publishing an article intended to encourage people to get into jigsaw puzzles and would like to compile comments from people who enjoy doing them. Especially appreciated if you can link to or mention jigsaws you’ve completed. Photos of completed jigsaws also welcome.
The below is what we got back so far, and I’ll continue to add to this piece in future. And if you enjoy jigsaw puzzles yourself, please add your own comment.
What I like about jigsaws is that they’re great fun both when you do them alone, or in a company. They provide a rare opportunity to feel both active and relaxed - solving problems and analyzing where to fit the pieces, at the same time having time to think through anything that’s on your mind. As a family fun, jigsaw puzzles are priceless. From an early age, they can be a bonding activity between parents and children. If you play in teams, there can be a fun and harmless competition. If the whole family is a team, it’s an opportunity to casually chat about things that you never have time for, following the path of associations that you get from the picture you’re assembling. Or anything at all! In any case, solving a jigsaw puzzle is a great chance to praise the children and their capabilities as problem solvers.
When I was a kid, I loved UNICEF’s puzzles. Not only they were always challenging to solve with their colorful and detailed illustrations, but they’ve also provided a glimpse into other countries' cultures and customs.
--Mira Rakicevic, comfyliving.net
I’ve been doing jigsaws since the mid-60s, when Springbok came out with the Jackson Pollock puzzle. I’ve done hundreds over the years. The largest puzzle I’ve done is 6,000 pieces.
Why do I do them? Jigsaws are something you can finish, which doesn’t happen that often when you are doing research, as I did before I retired. They use my eyes and hands, not the cognitive part of my brain, so I can do something else while doing the puzzle. I can think while doing a puzzle and solve problems either in life or in the novel I’m writing. It kind of like being in the shower, but not as wet.
Doing a puzzle lets you focus on aspects of a picture, especially when the puzzle is of classic art. If the quality is good, you can see the brush strokes better than when viewing the artwork online or in a book. That’s true of landscapes also. And of map puzzles. I’ve done puzzles of several subway systems, some of which I’ve later rode, and some, l like the New York subway, I grew up with.
I can watch TV while doing a puzzle. I’ve found that I can actively participate in conference calls for work – audio only back when I did them – so this might be handy in the current environment. Just turn off your camera (say you’re saving bandwidth) and do a puzzle while in a call.
I’m now working on a 3,000-piece puzzle of cities of the world – I can send a picture of it under construction if you want. Attached is a picture of a puzzle based on the Ubehebe crater in Death Valley. My daughter had the puzzle made from a picture I took which I use as my laptop wallpaper. Since it is my picture, there shouldn’t be any rights problems.
I now keep a puzzle log. I’ve done 36 since I started keeping in in November of 2018. I like to do maps, landmarks, like the Grand Canyon, and art. Fun stuff also – I’ve done a 3,000-piece Star Trek puzzle. I take a picture of each one when I’ve completed it, so I have lots of pictures for you.
My two daughters, now grown, do puzzles also. When we are together for Christmas, we have a tradition of rushing through a bunch of holiday puzzles I’ve collected. When my son-in-law was studying for the bar exam my daughter would do a puzzle while quizzing him. He passed, so it must have worked.
I donate my completed puzzles to charity thrift stores so that others can get enjoyment from them. Since the thrift stores are closed now, I put a dozen puzzles out in front of my house a few weeks ago. They were gone in an hour. I understand there is great demand for puzzles now. I’m okay since I have plenty stored up.
When I was in high school, my grandmother moved to an apartment near us. I’d visit her several times a week, and she’d have a puzzle out for me to do while she watched TV – and tried to feed me.
Being a computer scientist, I’m interested in math, and so I’ve written an article on the mathematics of jigsaw puzzles, which is published on a puzzle fan site. The url is https://www.puzzlehobby.com/Mathematics-Jigsaw-Puzzles.html
Just this week a researcher working on a mystery series being produced by the BBC contacted me. One of their episodes revolves around a jigsaw puzzle, and the detective comments about how much harder a 1,000 piece puzzle is than a 500 piece one. This is covered by my article, and the researcher wanted to check with me about the accuracy of the script. That won’t be too useful for you, since production is paused due to the pandemic, but it might help.
--Scott Davidson, @scottd687 on Twitter
i LOVE puzzles. i hadn't done them in a while, but when i got together with my friend and her kids, i became obsessed with doing them...and it hasn't died since- which has been about 10 years.
i didn't realize how much i needed them- and with pets, i really felt like i couldn't do them easily. i like to watch tv while doing things and the table is in the room without a tv- so i have become more creative with my solutions, creating a hack that helps me still puzzle with pets in my living room using canvasses. happy to send a pic (as i think haro will strip it).
anyway, i am extremely busy as executive director of motley zoo animal rescue (www.motleyzoo.org) which is an all encompassing job that doesn't stop when i get home. rescue is all the time, the demands on me are constant and it can be hard to find time for what i need to relax.
puzzles are that for me. i just get drawn in and i relax but i feel my brain awaken too in other ways- i feel like it helps me with creativity (hobbies) but also in coming up with creative solutions and ideas for the problems i have with my work.
each year i so look forward to the approximate 2 week time just before xmas and just after new years because i can hibernate for a bit...just shut the world out and do what i want to. this past year the first thing i did was get out a puzzle and start to work. i did one of the 1000 piece ones in less than 2 days (a few hours each sitting)- and i felt like i couldn't get enough. total i did 4.
the pandemic has been a good time to be able to work on them- but i am on a hard one that is taking me a while to do. i have also discovered that a few of my friends and volunteers like puzzles too, so we have created a puzzle swap, using a storage box at motley zoo's facility for contactless drop off and pick up! i have picked up some fun ones (haven't started yet) but other people are working on the ones i shared.
i prefer animals and scenes or artwork to anything else. and i pretty much prefer 1000 pieces or more...i saw one online that is 10,000 pieces and 6ft by 9ft...which is a dream of mine 😉 however definitely only in a room where no pets go!
i do seem to nearly lose a piece to the dogs- but none have been lost entirely, though it makes me pretty mad! it's frustrating to look for a piece for hours only to discover it on the steps half chewed...but it's the hazard of doing puzzles with animals! it just adds another level of challenge 😉
i have a few pics to share of the ones i did over xmas- a chihuly glass art piece, underwater dogs by seth casteel that are not your average puzzles.
anyway, puzzles are so addicting to me and i just love them. sometimes i wish i could just do puzzles all the time and nothing else 😉 but even now, although i have more time, i still have work to do, so i still just fit them in here and there!
--jme, Motley Zoo Animal Rescue
I enjoy puzzles. There are many reasons to enjoy a puzzle. Putting one together is calming and relaxing with a sense of accomplishment upon finishing. In addition, the artwork can be superb — a visit to a museum or gallery without leaving home. The other reason I enjoy them is they are a lifelong hobby with no age limits at either end of the spectrum. There are more and less difficult ones and one can never outgrow the ability to put them together.
--Kenny Trinh, Netbooknews
I have REALLY gotten into jigsaw puzzles during this quarantine and want to continue with this hobby. It really takes concentration and I've found it's also a great way to bond and spend quality time with my mom. We look forward to this as our, "treat time," of the day and need to set an alarm after working on it for 2 hours otherwise we'd go WAY into the night trying to finish the puzzle.
We really focus, I find this is the one time I'm not thinking about work, my phone, the outside world. It's almost like a meditation. We feel accomplished everyday seeing how far we come along with the puzzle.
--Talia McKinney, nestseekers.com
My wife and I have been doing jigsaw puzzles together since my daughter was born. It started when we discovered this awesome site called Artifact Puzzles artifactpuzzles.com. They sell these laser cut wooden jigsaw puzzles that are full of really intricate and whimsical pieces. When my daughter was born, we made her bedroom Alice in Wonderland themed and where looking for interesting things to have for it. We found the pictured puzzle at Artifact and over the course of a few days put it together and had it framed. What made the puzzle extra awesome is that the outline of the pieces make secret images in the puzzle, such as an outline of Alice falling down the well, or smoke coming out of the caterpillar's mouth.
Now that the kids are older we are able to put them together as a great no screen family time. This is especially enjoyable as we are all inside due to the pandemic. Over the years we have many puzzles including that scene from Central Park NYC and most recently the Owl Coffee House. We are looking forward to our next puzzle.
I do a jigsaw puzzle every morning. I use the everyday jigsaw application so I do it on line. I do it for several reasons:
1. I am 65 and I believe it helps my brain function, spacial relations, and problem solving skills.
2. I find it very relaxing.
3. When I am done I have completed something and can feel a sense of accomplishment.
4. I enjoy some of the photos that the puzzles are made from.
5. It is a great way to escape from the world around me.
6. It is a very low cost and portable hobby. I can do puzzles when I travel.
7. You don't lose pieces when you do it on line.
8. I have done hundreds of puzzles and have a huge stock of completed puzzles I can always return to and do again.
--Iris Waichler, iwaichlerwpengine.com
I am a fan of jigsaw puzzles even before the coronavirus situation brought them back to popularity. The main reasons are one, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment every time I complete a puzzle, and two, the action of putting the right piece in the right place drives joy which is slightly different from the first feeling. I look at jigsaw puzzles as a thing that can be put together into a calm, straight picture out of complete chaos. The pieces coming together and revealing something can also be an allegory to everything that we expect from life: things coming together and falling in place. Plus, solving a jigsaw puzzle also helps in concentration, motor skills in the young, and an problem-solving from a creative standpoint.
--Tejas Nair, nair tejas dot com
Personally, I love the problem solving aspect of jigsaw puzzles. You have these pieces in front of you, and you know there is a way to fit them together, but you are not immediately certain of how. And then there's that freedom to being able to tackle the puzzle in any fashion and order you choose. It's the journey of trying to find the right connections that I enjoy. And whether the journey is short or long, when I start approaching the end of the puzzle there is a deep sense of satisfaction which rushes into me. The only downside is not being able to put it down until its done, which can be days or longer for some puzzles. It's like trying to put down a great book!
I enjoy all sorts of jigsaw puzzles, my most recent puzzle is one my friend actually created, from sidepiecepuzzles.com called How to Escape.
--Praveen Latchamsetty, thewordfinder.com
There is something deeply meditative about the act of doing a jigsaw puzzle. By focusing on one task your mind is able to let go of other worries and simply be in the puzzle. We spend so much time running from one endeavor to the next without much thought. Or spending way too much time scrolling on our phones to really be present with those around us. I believe that puzzling is a great way to bond with the family, let go of your worries, and truly be in the present with those around you. The best part about puzzling is that you feel truly accomplished at the end. No matter how long the puzzle takes you, you’re left with a truly satisfying finished product of whatever beautiful image you chose to piece together!
--Linda Morgan, MotivationNook