Artist Profile: Charles Wysocki

By far one of our best selling puzzle artists, Folk Artist Charles Wysocki is recognized across the globe and his puzzles create a feeling of nostalgia of old time Americana.

Charles Wysocki was born in 1928 in Detroit, Michigan to Polish parents. Though he had a happy childhood, his early enthusiasm was not equally shared by his father who worried about his future and tried to redirect his interests into more stable hobbies for a future income. His mother, however, fully supported his artistic tendencies.

1000 pieces Charles Wysocki Jigsaw Puzzle called Clammers at Hodge’s.

He grew up continuing his art but was drafted during the Korean War. He was stationed in Germany, and after his two year obligation he left the army and and picked up the pen again, although it wasn’t in the way he dreamed: he found a job in the Polish community of Detroit making drawings of tools and car parts for manuals and catalogs.

Eventually he attend the Art Center in Los Angeles, which he as able to do on the G.I. Bill. He majored in design and advertising illustration.

In 1959 that Wysocki formed an advertising agency called “Group West” and became a successful freelance artist for three years, serving such companies as Chrysler and General Tire. Around this time, Wysocki met his wife, Elizabeth, whom he married after six weeks of dating and whom would become a strong influence on Wysocki’s life and art. Elizabeth came from the countryside, and Wysocki would be drawn to the simplicity he found in her upbringing and he loved the wholesome values of the more rural life.

In the five years before Wysocki and Elizabeth’s first child was born, they traveled often to the New England states, of which Wysocki says “I feel the serenity of this life, and it became enhanced on our vacations to New England. We fell immediately in love with this section of our country because the pace so closely resembled our way of thinking—a love for the very small personal closeness of each other’s company and being content with ‘little’ things, happy in activities city folks might find boring.”

He credits his other influences as Rousseau, Edward Hopper, Normal Rockwell, and “of course, Grandma Moses.” While he is considered a folk artist, Wysocki wouldn’t describe himself as that, and he definitely wouldn’t describe himself as primitive. Instead, he says he “consider[s] [him]self simply a painter of early American life with a wide mixture of influences and with a love for the old-fashioned values.”

Hawkriver Hallow – 1000 piece puzzle from artist Charles Wysocki.

In the ‘60s, though Wysocki worked commercially, his heart was always for the simpler style that he felt represented himself. In his free time he worked on the Americana paintings which depict imagined places with details of the places and values familiar to him. These paintings are filled with Wysocki’s signature warmth and sentimentality. A very successful one-man show in which every single piece was sold convinced Wysocki to leave the commercial art world forever. He continued making a living off of original paintings and calendar prints, and then he worked with AMCAL to produce his images on puzzles, collector plates, serving trays, cards, magnets and more.

Wysocki continued painting until the end of his life. He died at the age of 73 in July 2002.

How to Pick the Best Puzzle Brands

So, we’ve posted before on how to select a high-quality puzzle based on the brand and the quality of the puzzle pieces and printing. But I wanted to give you a little more insight into what makes each of our most popular brands unique. We’ll also take a look at quality and prices.

This is to give you all some insight into each brand we carry, starting with the most popular puzzle brands. I have tested many of the jigsaw puzzles myself and have also talked with many people who love these puzzles! More will be posted later.

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Sunsout:

This brand carries thousands of different images, in piece counts ranging from 100 piece mini puzzles to 6000 piece giants. They are made from eco-friendly material in the USA. Sunsout puzzles are also on the cheaper side – with 1000 piece puzzles only $15. Pieces are both ribbon and random cut, depending on the image.

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Ravensburger:

Often touted as one of the best puzzle brands, it is probably true. These puzzles have true interlocking ribbon cut pieces – they really snap together well and don’t move around. They also use grained paper which makes the image glare-free with a nice, durable finish and great color. These puzzles are perfect for framing. Their 1000 piece puzzles are $17, and they also have great 500 piece puzzles for only $13.

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Springbok:

These puzzles are known for the fact that no two pieces are ever the same. They use random cut dies to cut their puzzle, a unique look and interesting challenge. They use 100% recycled materials and are made in the USA. They also limit the number of new puzzles each year in an effort to focus more on quality than quantity. 500 piece puzzles from Springbok are just $12.

Heye:

Heye puzzles have some of the most unique images – from gothic art to highly detailed cartoon puzzles. The pieces are ribbon cut and slide together nicely – but be careful – often times with ribbon cut puzzles pieces of similar shape and color can make it to the wrong spot. Make sure it really fits before moving on! These are top-notch quality – with 1000 piece puzzles upwards of $25 – but they are well worth it if you plan to keep and frame the puzzle. (I myself have 3 mounted on my wall from Heye!)

Aquarius:

If you’re into pop-culture, this is the brand for you. They have everything from vintage Beatles puzzles to I Love Lucy, John Wayne and Rush. Their puzzles are also printed with high-quality ink so the images are bright and crystal clear. These are the perfect puzzles for teenagers or fanatics with 1000 piece puzzles around $15.

Ceaco:

This brand is known for its low prices. You’ll find a smaller box and slightly thinner pieces than a higher-end puzzle, but the fun is still the same! These are great party puzzles or for keeping and doing over and over with the kids or family. 1000 piece puzzles are only $12 and they have great painters like Thomas Kinkade!

Love a particular puzzle brand and want to submit your review of it? Talk to us and tell us what you think and I’ll post it next week!

Question for the comments: What puzzle brand are you loyal to and why?

12 Puzzles That Will Make You Want to Drop Everything and Travel

Summer is over and fall is here, the time when we start curling up with books or hobbies and be homebodies. But if you have a look at this beautiful collection of travel puzzles that we have, featuring photographs of gorgeous places and landmarks all over the world, you’ll be rid of the homebody bug. You’ll be packing your bags, reading our travel tips and guidelines, and on a plane by tomorrow because all of these puzzles wonderfully capture some of the most popular travel destinations in the world! And of course, if you can’t afford that special trip right now – just enjoy putting together an exciting travel jigsaw puzzle from our huge collections.

AMSTERDAM – 1000 pieces. Finished size: 68 x 48 cm. $19.99

BEACON HILL, BOSTON. 300 pieces. Finished size: 27” x 20”. $14.99

BRUGES, BELGIUM – 1500 pieces. Finished size: 85 x 60 cm. $24.99

HARBOR IN PORTOFINO, ITALY – 1000 pieces. Finished size: 27” x 20”. $16.99

Continue reading this post

Puzzles for Virgos

It’s my birthday today and I thought, how can I incorporate puzzles with my birthday? Well, it became pretty easy once I found this giant puzzle:

9000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle! This giant puzzle measures 54″ x 76″ when put together.

I decided to do a new blog post each month highlighting puzzles that fit with the key attributes of each zodiac sign, starting with my favorite—and my own—sun sign, Virgo.

VIRGO DESCRIPTION

You Virgos are the most unusual people of the zodiac and the expression ‘never judge a book by its cover’ certainly sums up your sign. Attempting to describe you, Virgo, is like throwing all the jumbled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on a table and then trying to describe what picture these pieces make once they are put together, before you have seen the completed picture of the puzzle on the box. Like the jigsaw, you are a person of many parts, complex thoughts, and intermingling structures. Not many can truly figure you out because you live so much through your inner, private being.”
—Athena Starwoman, Zodiac: Athena’s Sunsigns

VIRGO: AUGUST 24 – SEPTEMBER 23

Element: Earth
Planetary ruler: Mercury
Symbol: The Virgin
Quality: Mutable (flexibility)
Colors: Earth colors, ochre, orange, yellow
Gem: Agate, hyacinth
Strongest virtues: Creativity, tolerance, determination
Characteristics: analytical, detail-oriented, disciplined, exact, industrious, intelligent, logical, modest, perfectionist, practical, quiet

Plenty of Pasta by Ravensburger. 500 pieces. Finished size: 19.25″ x 14.25″. $12.99

The earthy tones and practicality of the precise organizational system matches Virgo’s personality perfectly.

Cups and Saucers by Cobble Hill. 275 large size pieces. Finished size: 24” x 18”. $14.99

Analytical minds will love to tackle this one. Each cup has its own distinct design for the detail-oriented Virgo mind to process and organize as (s)he builds this puzzle.

Field Days by Sunsout. 500 pieces. Finished size: 15” x 24”. $10.99

This flower garden is colorful but still darker in tone, matching Virgo’s attraction to ochre, orange, and yellow.

Peacock Garden by New York Puzzle Co., 100o pieces. $16.99

House Beautiful is an interior decorating magazine which focuses on decorating and domestic arts: Virgo’s fortes. This intricate cover features a peacock— while usually a symbol of ostentatiousness—here it is painted in Virgo’s colors, making it appear modest.

Time Pieces by Platnik. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.5” x 17.4”. $16.99

Virgos are punctual and timely–probably stemming from their being perfectionists. This puzzle can showcase their obsession with time.

For even more zodiac-related puzzles, check out these creative miniature puzzles made by Pintoo, made for each sign of zodiac.

Puzzle Warehouse sponsors Memorial Golf Classic in Honor of Katee Hessler

Puzzle Warehouse sponsored a hole at the 2012 Katee Hessler Memorial Golf Classic. The event was put on by a memorial foundation inspired after 18-year-old Katee was senselessly murdered in an attempted robbery in North St. Louis County onAugust 30, 2001.

Katee grew up in St. Charles and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She became a victim of violence and greed. Katee’s death deeply affected everyone who knew her. Take a look at all of the photos from the event over at the Katee Hessler Foundation’s Facebook page.