Best Things Designed to Look Like Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

For those of us that LOVE jigsaw puzzles, we know that they’re more than just a hobby. The puzzle piece look can also be decorative–and even functional! Check out these great designs in the shape of puzzle pieces for things such as cutting boards, chairs, and more!

1. Puzzleboard cutting boards

2. Puzzle wine rack

3. Puzzle rugs

4. Puzzle benches/end tables

5. Puzzle mirror

6. Puzzle alarm clock… that only shuts off once you correctly arrange the pieces!

7. Puzzle cookie cutter

8. Puzzle storage

 

Puzzle Penpals

In August, we posted about jigsaw puzzle swaps. With swaps, you can send and receive jigsaw puzzles from all over the country. But recently we discovered Mallory’s blog where she has put a new spin on puzzles in the mail.

Mallory is a creative woman with a lot of long distance family. To keep in touch with the younger bunch and foster a close relationship with them across the miles, Mallory has found fun, interactive ways to communicate.

One way she came up with was penpal puzzles!

The concept is simple: she finds a puzzle that her cousin (or niece of nephew) would like (with an appropriate piece count for their age), she puts it together, then she flips it over and writes a note on the back.

Then she breaks it up to send.

And voila! The kiddos get a fun new gift, an educational and interactive activity, and a letter to cherish from a loving family member!

The same thing could work for adult family and friends, though it might take you a little longer to accomplish! It would make an additionally wonderful gift for grandparents using a custom jigsaw puzzle with a beloved family photo.

How To: Glue a Jigsaw Puzzle

We’ve written about how to glue a jigsaw puzzle before, but it’s been a few years and we know that that means that we have a new population of jigsaw puzzle fans! Welcome, new puzzlers! Gluing jigsaw puzzles is fun, easy, and affordable, and we’re excited to share with you how to do it.

Often, we choose jigsaw puzzles because we like the artwork featured, whether it’s a cute puppy scene or a piece of fine art we know and love. By gluing a jigsaw puzzle, we get to display art we admire and show off our hard work.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

1. Wax or parchment paper
2. A puzzle you love
3. Puzzle glue
4. A jigsaw puzzle frame, if you desire to frame it after gluing

Tug of War. 500 pieces. SunsOut.

Van Gogh: Irises. 1000 pieces. Pomegranate.

STEP 1: Pick a puzzle you’ll be happy to see over and over again (and a puzzle that you won’t miss completing over and over again!)

STEP 2: Get some wax or parchment paper that has an extra inch around all sides of your puzzle to keep your craft area neat and tidy from any glue spills. So, for example, if you were doing a 1000 piece SunsOut puzzle that’s 27″ x 35″, then you’ll want your paper to be about 29″ x 37″.

If you’ve decided you want to glue a puzzle after you’ve finished, no problem! Carefully slide the paper underneath your puzzle. You’ll probably need an extra set of hands to keep the puzzle in place while you slide the paper underneath, but the final results should be the same!

STEP 3: Decide which type of puzzle glue you’ll be using. You can make your own using our step-by-step guide, or you can purchase puzzle glue from popular brands like Ravensburger, SunsOut, Springbok or MasterPieces.

Ravensburger Puzzle Glue – $3.99

SunsOut Puzzle Preserver – $3.99

Springbok Puzzle Saver – $4.95

MasterPieces Jigsaw Puzzle Glue – $3.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We carry several types of puzzle preservers on our website–and there are even more out there, like spray-ons and powder–but we prefer liquid glue. Liquid glue has no presentation and it’s easier to apply, especially with the special applicator that MasterPieces provides with their puzzle glue. SunsOut glue is known especially for going on white like Elmers but drying totally clear. One customer commented, “This is the best glue I have found for preserving a puzzle. I have tried different ones over the years, but none cover so well and so clear! Thanks again for another great product!”

If you decide to go a different route, such as using Educa’s powder glue, just make sure to read the instructions so you don’t waste part of the powder or ruin a beloved puzzle!

If possible, choose glue made by the same manufacturer as your puzzle. This will ensure good results because the manufacturer has designed it to make their puzzles look good.

Glue packaging will indicate the size and number of puzzles it will cover. An average 4 oz. bottle should cover about two 1000 piece puzzles, and even more if you have a fewer pieces.

STEP 4: Once you finish your puzzle, make sure it’s as flat and smooth as possible with all pieces fitting in perfectly snug. One clever trick is to use a rolling pin!

STEP 5: You’re ready to spread the glue! Make sure you have enough time to put your full attention to finishing the gluing process–you wan’t want to stop in the middle or it won’t come out as well.

The easiest way to glue your puzzle is to actually pour the glue right on top of the puzzle and then use a piece of cardboard or a business card (or with an applicator if it is provided) to spread the glue around. There is typically a brush attached to the bottle cap and you will use that to spread the glue along the edges of the puzzle.

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STEP 6: Cover all the pieces thoroughly. Don’t worry about the immediate look. Once the glue dries, it will look different (and better!) There may be small air bubbles, but these should shrink on their own in the drying process leaving a nice, even finish. CAUTION: Don’t brush or sponge on too much glue at once to avoid saturating the puzzle, causing swelling or peeling.

STEP 7: Wait, and then wait some more. Before handling your puzzle, you’ll want to ensure your puzzle has dried completely. For some glues, this will be up to 4 hours, but the average is about 2 hours. Better to be safe than sorry, though!

STEP 8: You should be able to pick up your puzzle after the full 2-4 hours. A ruler or a spatula can be used as tools to help separate the paper from the puzzle.

STEP 9: You can do what you like with your puzzle after you glue it, but we recommend hanging it to put on display in the nicest way possible. We also have some handy instructions on how to frame your jigsaw puzzles.

 

Jigsaw Puzzle Swap

We recently had a customer tell us that it can be difficult to afford their jigsaw puzzle hobby because they finish their puzzles so quickly. That put us to thinking: besides re-doing previous puzzles or upping the piece count, how can you satisfy your hobby without spending more than you’ve budgeted for it?

First, we have several sales going on all the time, from items under $10 to discontinued items discounted 10% and items discounted because the box has been damaged (the puzzle inside is perfectly unaffected though!)

Goldenline Fairies – Water Faery 750 piece jigsaw puzzle from Lafayette Puzzle Factory. $8.99

Heavy Drinkers 500 piece (Discontinued puzzle)  from SunsOut. $10.99

Venice in the Summer – Scratch and Dent 1000 piece puzzle from Cobble Hill. Sale price: $13.99

 

But if you want to go even cheaper and you want to avoid thrift store puzzles that might be missing a piece or two and the digital puzzle route isn’t your style, then consider jigsaw puzzle swaps.

There are many ways to swap jigsaw puzzles. You can check out the Jigsaw Puzzle Swap Facebook page or sign up to be a member of Jigsaw Puzzle Swap Exchange, an online website where you will send and receive packages filled with quality jigsaw puzzles in good condition with other puzzle lovers.

If you’re thinking more locally, you can host an event yourself.

To host a jigsaw puzzle swap with friends and family, or a larger community swap by using websites such as Meet Up, just set a minimum number of puzzles that have no missing pieces to bring and then let your guests browse and swap!

You might agree upon rules or you might not, opting for a more casual, lighthearted event. Either way, you’ll just want to ensure that everyone leaves happy with a new puzzle to complete that they consider a fair exchange.

Popular rules would be along the lines of:

  • You can only swap puzzles that have a similar or equal piece count, i.e. if you bring two 2000 piece jigsaw puzzles, it’s not fair to go home with three 150 piece jigsaw puzzles
  • Swaps should be similar in quality, i.e. no swapping a dollar store puzzle for a high-quality Cobble Hill jigsaw puzzle
  • You don’t have to swap an equal number of puzzles, just an equal challenge, i.e. swapping two 500 piece puzzles is fair game for one 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
  • Find some way to accommodate people that have specific preferences, such as XL pieces or shaped puzzles only (or not at all) so that no one feels like they are stuck with a puzzle they have no desire or ability to complete
  • Puzzles are exchanged forever, or puzzles must be returned to the original owner within a set time span (returning puzzles is better suited for a swap limited to family and friends, parting with a puzzle forever would be more apt for a larger swap with members of your community)

This swap could be hosted once a year or once a season, depending on how frequently you and your puzzle-loving friends buy and complete new puzzles!

All Aboard! May 10th is National Train Day

It’s National Train Day! For the 7th year in a row, train enthusiasts and supporters will be celebrating trains all over the country, with an event held at the St. Louis Station today where there will be live entertainment as guests explore trains, sleeping cars, and try foods that were at the 1904 World Fair. What better way to celebrate after the festivities than with beautiful art of a train in the form of a puzzle?

We may think that trains don’t hold as much significance in our lives now that so many people have personal cars and that planes dominate the skies to take us from place to place, but we would be wrong! Train ridership has grown 55% since 1997, meaning that it’s the fastest growing travel mode.

So today we’re going to pick some of our favorites train jigsaw puzzles, share them with you, and let you know some great facts we’ve learned about locomotives for National Train Day.

train jigsaw puzzle

Golden Age of Railroads from White Mountain. 1000 pieces.

You might say that it’s the golden age of trains… because for every plane ride between the major cities of New York City and Washington DC, there are three times as many train rides.

Durango Express from Springbok. 500 pieces.

Amtrak carries 31.6 million people every year… and Amtrak just has passenger cars. That doesn’t add up all the trains that run every day to deliver goods to communities in a timely, efficient manner!

alaska jigsaw puzzle, aurora lights

Alaska Memories from SunsOut. 1000 pieces.

Trains are also more environmentally friendly, keeping the world bright and beautiful. For every passenger that rides, Amtrak trains are 16% more efficient than planes and 34% more efficient than cars.

The Coming of the Iron Horse from SunsOut. 500 pieces.

Trains bring us close to nature! Amtrak delivers people to 237 National Parks, historic sites, and monuments, meaning people can pack their hiking gear and leave the car keys at home.

All Aboard! from White Mountain. 1000 pieces.

With so many trains and stations to operate, Amtrak creates a lot of jobs for local communities. In fact, it employs more than 20,000 people across the nation, which is roughly equivalent to every single student at New York University.

lionel trains puzzle

Lionel Series 1935 from SunsOut. 300 pieces.

There are many types of trains. There’s Maglev trains, monorail trains, suspended monorail trains, bullet, commuter, and super trains, and they each have their strengths. For instance, the Maglev is the fastest land-based transport. It has no wheels and hovers only on magnets, and it can whiz past on those tracks at speeds of about 323 miles per hour (430 kilometers per hour).

History of Trains from Eurographics. 1000 pieces.

The invention of trains came over a hundred years ago in 1804. A man named Richard Trevithick invented the first steam powered train. It’s first run included over ten loads of material, with about 70 people and some wagon and iron materials. It wasn’t very fast–it took over two hours to travel nine miles–but it was blazing in comparison to riding a wagon.

Lunchtime from SunsOut. 550 pieces.

It wasn’t until 1925 that there came a company that was dedicated from transporting people across the country in the steam powered machine. This was around the time of the Ford Model T, when cars could travel about 40-45 mph tops. Trains at this time only went 9 mph, but they could carry hundreds of passengers at a once and, just like today, riding a train has advantages for traveling long distances with beautiful scenery and more comfortable seats.

In fact, some people love riding trains so much it’s not even about getting somewhere. Recently Amtrak announced it would be offering free residencies for up to 24 writers, who love the calm, serene rides so much and find them to be a good place for productivity. But forget the destination, because this is about the journey. Writers will travel roundtrip, but only to enjoy the ride and get writing done in their sleeper cabin.