If the first jigsaw puzzle you see from Piatnik’s new Skyline series is New York, you night not be so intimidated. Skylines are a popular theme for travel jigsaw puzzles, and this one fits in nicely and shows just how much variety there is in building size in the Big Apple.
But the rest of the Skyview series is tough. Vienna, Paris, and Venice are long distance aerial views with teeny, tiny details. Paris and Vienna are even made up of the same color scheme! These puzzles would be a great challenge and are very unique compared to other skyline travel puzzles.
It reminded me of a great artist, Steven Wiltshire, who has been called the Human Camera. He can take a helicopter ride over a city’s skyline and then reproduce the image–by memory–perfectly, down to the smallest details. With no preliminary sketches or preparation minus the helicopter ride, he can proportion the city exactly and remember every building’s relation to other buildings and landmarks. Check out the video proof. It’s stunning and amazing.
So, for the ultimate challenge, channel Wiltshire, and try these extra tough puzzles by studying the image on the box, then refusing to use it as reference for the rest of your puzzling!
David of Ajax, Ontario, Canada has completed a BIG project: the 17 x 6 foot 32,000-piece puzzle from Ravensburger.
With the help of his wife, Kim, and 6-year-old daughter, Nicole, David was able to complete the massive puzzle in approximately 360 hours over the time span of over a year. He began his project in March of 2012 and finished it just two months ago in July. After some difficulty mounting the puzzle—difficulties which included having to rearrange his basement, fortify the edges of the different sections of the puzzle, visit multiple hardware stores and having trouble getting the puzzle to securely stay in place—David was done.
Now, relaxing after such a mighty task, David took some time to answer a few of our questions.
In our interview, we discussed the challenges of working on and displaying Double Retrospect, as well as get to know David a little bit. A big thanks to David, who was so friendly and amiable in our interview. It was a pleasure to ask him about his puzzle habits!
Q: How long did it take you to complete Double Retrospect?
A: This puzzle took approximately 360 hours to complete. I started on March 12, 2012 and finished the last pieces on July 27, 2013.
Just preparing the puzzle for display took nearly 20 hours. I estimate that another 10-15 hours were used to take and set up over 3,400 photographs.
Q: Did anyone help you?
My daughter Nicole (now six and a half) helped on several occasions, mostly with the last 10-20 pieces on the many of the cartoons. [She] and my wife, Kim, put the last two white pieces together!
Q: Were there points where you wanted to give up, or were you determined the whole way through?
A: You’ve heard the terms “mental block” and “writer’s block.” I think I suffered “puzzle block.” I hit this point with about 6000 pieces remaining in late June of 2013. I remember thinking “Why am I doing this?” and “I just can’t do this anymore.” So I left the puzzle alone for several days.
When I looked at it again I had this break through: “This is a 6,000 piece puzzle now. Just finish it!” Over the next five and a half weeks, I put the majority of those pieces together.
Could this [puzzle block] have [had] anything to do with the fact that it was summer and I didn’t want to be in the basement? Most likely!
Q: What was the most challenging puzzle you ever completed before this one?
I completed Ravensburger’s 18,000 piece “Tropical Impressions.” The most challenging part were the green border pieces. I struggled and struggled with those pieces because they were so uniform in shape. I would have preferred not to have them at all.
Puzzle Warehouse Note: We do not carry the full 18,000 piece Tropical Impressions puzzle, but we do carry a smaller version.
Q: Do you think you can go back to “normal” sized puzzles after these feats?
I work on “normal” size puzzles all the time. I enjoy working on 1,000/1,500/2,000 and 3,000 piece puzzles. Often times, I am working on several smaller puzzles while working on larger ones. I have made gifts of them to family and friends. I enjoy these puzzles because of the variety of cuts they use, and some are even shaped (e.g. Sunsout’s butterfly puzzles).
Q: How did you approach such a large puzzle? Did you spend most of your time sorting?
Just seeing the puzzle packaged the way it was, in one VERY LARGE box, eight bags of pieces and a booklet made me wonder why I purchased such a large puzzle in the first place.
The next step was difficult: mix all the bags together or do it bag by bag? In the end I chose bag by bag because I do not have all that much space in my basement. For many, this is not a true way of doing puzzles but think of all the pieces—especially the white ones!
I spent roughly 1/3 of the time sorting the puzzle pieces: first by colour, then by shade, then by shapes. At one point I had 31 piles of pieces. Dollar stores sell plastic storage containers—some with two compartments—which I began using after the first bag was finished. This really helped storing and organizing the pieces. When I found myself working slowly on the puzzle, I began sorting the next bag. This way, I was “ahead” of the game.
The combination colours, like red/black/blue, did present some difficulty because it meant having to piece together the red/black or blue/black pieces first. Of course the white pieces were “fun” too. Many could be paired, as I discovered after the third bag, especially the centred ones and the offset ones. Then I noticed that some pieces had a very particular knob-shape (by the fourth bag). So sorting the white pieces became easier and easier.
I also discovered (that in the very last bag, for the very last cartoon) a piece having four colours (pink/red/blue/black). Out of 32,256 pieces only one piece had this combination!
Q: What advice would you give to other puzzlers who want to challenge themselves?
The challenge with “Double Retrospect” is to stick with it. Working on a puzzle of this size requires lots of time to sort the pieces. It also has a lot to do with your daily schedule and the mood you’re in. Most of the time I only had 20 or 30 minutes to work. Not much work flow for getting into it: sometimes putting together 5 or 10 pieces, other times up to 50 or 60. Then there were stretches of several days that would go by before I could work on it again. The weekends, when I was lucky enough, I could work for a few hours. This was how I could make some headway. The best weekend I had was in April 2013 when I had 5.5 hours to work. I nearly completed one cartoon!
One point to remember: it will not necessarily be the number of pieces that challenges: it is the overall colour scheme and theme of the puzzle. The green pieces (Tropical Impressions) were more of a challenge than anything I’ve put together.
I have two 1,000 piece puzzles from Piatnik “Wine Corks” (row upon row upon row of … wine corks) and “Coffee” (spilled coffee beans and a scooper). These puzzles combined took me over 30 hours to put together.
Q: What’s your favorite puzzle that you’ve ever completed?
I would say my favourite puzzle is Ravensburger’s 9,000 piece “Zodiac.” This was the first really large puzzle (over 5,000 pieces) that I had completed. It is also the first puzzle that I mounted, framed and hung on a wall. It’s featured on the back of my business card. I also dedicated it to my grandparents who are now both deceased.
I have always preferred landscapes to anything else. I do have several puzzles of art work, sci-fi and still life. I prefer mountain landscapes although I do have some picturing beautiful seascapes.
Recently, and now that I will have a large display wall, I am hoping to have a “themed” display going for puzzles: Germany, Italy, France and the rest of Europe, Christian Riesse Lassen, and Josephine Wall. I also started to frame holiday puzzles (Easter and Christmas) and seasonal puzzles such as spring, summer, fall and winter.
Q: Thank you for answering our questions!
Thank you so much for this opportunity. Keith Haring’s “Double Retrospect” was definitely a challenge I won’t soon forget. This has been fun and hope that Ravensburger, Educa, or Clementoni come up with another 32,000 puzzle (hopefully it’ll be a landscape or seascape!)
Do you feel the need to challenge yourself with your puzzling experience? For those experienced puzzlers, it might be time to try something new—something a little different, something that adds an exciting new component to the hobby you already know and love.
There are many ways that jigsaw puzzle designers have come up with to completely alter the puzzling experience. Sometimes they throw in some extra unneeded pieces, sometimes they give you a different image on the box. Whatever it is, it’ll push your brain even more—and we bet the added challenge will give you even more pleasure once. Well, after you get over the feeling that it’s just impossible, at least 🙂
These challenging puzzles will be spread out throughout posts over the next week as we write about the benefits of pushing yourself. We’ll try to start with the simpler challenges first, just to give you a taste.
9 pieces seems like a breeze, doesn’t it? Nope! In this puzzle, you must align all the squares so that the pictures match up perfectly in every direction—and there are 95,126,814,720 combinations that are possible for you to try with this 3 x 3 puzzle with four different rotations in each square. You’ll be rotating and replacing the images in the square over and over again as it nearly works, but not quite. Good luck!
The illusion of depth and movement is an added challenge in this 16 piece puzzle. It’ll be tough just to decide where to begin! The bonus to this puzzle is that it comes with a magnetic tray, making it very portable. You can work to piece it together from anywhere!
Instead of the shaped puzzle pieces you recognize, this image is made up of 42 sticks which you line up and rearrange inside of a wooden tray. An added challenge? It can make up to two images because it’s double-sided. Better choose the right side to lay your stick!
This puzzle was randomly designed, so it doesn’t have to make a lot of sense! Try to piece together these 67 pieces, all of which are uniquely shaped, in order to make a puzzle that has no straight edges and no overlapping images—yikes!
I hope your eyesight is good because this puzzle is part of the World’s Smallest Puzzle series. With 234 pieces and a finished size of 4″ x 6″ you’ll want to make sure you never misplace the tweezers that come with this miniscule but challenging puzzle!
This puzzle’s unique quality isn’t intended to challenge you—instead it’s intended to help make the puzzling experience inclusive! There are small, medium, and large shaped pieces in this Family Puzzle series so that everyone feels like they can help, from the littlest ones to the biggest ones. However, the uniqueness of this may challenge you anyways!
Completing the edges is a whole new experience with shaped puzzles! Additionally, there are some pieces hidden in here with surprise shapes—butterflies and flower shapes included.
Ever wondered what the biggest puzzle ever would look like framed on a wall? Well, we’ve come close – we now have the second largest jigsaw in the world on display at Puzzle Warehouse.
See the FINISHED puzzle at our main store in St. Louis, MO – open 7 days per week. The puzzle was completed by several customers and is now on display down our longest isle – at over 14 feet long!
The 24,000 piece monster was designed by Royce B. McClure. Called “LIFE: The Great Challenge,” this puzzle is full of variety, color, activity, beauty, drama and above all – Life! A lot of the intricate detail won’t be seen until the pieces are put together, rewarding the puzzlers with surprises as they work to complete the challenge. How does one go about designing this type of masterpiece?
When I was asked to design the artwork that would be used for the world’s largest commercially made jigsaw puzzle, I sat down and had a good long think about it. Not whether or not I would do it (of course I would accept the challenge) but how to come up with a design that would do the concept justice…Challenging, but not impossible, lots of detail but still making a satisfying overall picture when completed.” – Royce B. McClure
[EXCITING NEWS] We have also donated this fabulous puzzle to the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. They will be using the puzzle is a hands-on exhibit starting March 29, 2013 where museum visitors can help put together the puzzle and also play a find-it game with life size posters of the puzzle. See more about the event here.
We got an email from Rob asking for suggestions for a gift from his wife. He recently purchased an Impossibles puzzle from Great American Puzzle Factory, known to be quite the challenge with no edge pieces and also extra pieces inside the box – but that just wasn’t challenging enough! As I was writing a response, I thought it would be nice to share with everyone. Here is my response…
Wow – if those Impossibles puzzles are not a challenge, it sounds like we need to either go big (like a 3000pc or larger) or try some specialty items.
This jigsaw puzzle is all the same color, so it’s all about the shape of the pieces to complete. According to some of our reviews, it takes several hours just to get the edge pieces together. Some say 1 piece an hour is a good pace… It also has a really shiny, metallic surface, so it looks really cool when complete.
The challenge in these is only a little higher than the Impossibles, but customers have told us it’s really challenging because of the way the pieces are cut. The thing that’s cool, though, is that it’s not a standard cut – the pieces are all random shapes and loose fitting, so they don’t snap together like a regular jigsaw.
These have 2 puzzles in the same bag, mixed together. There is also no puzzle image. I’ve had a lot of fun doing these with friends. One puzzle is a “before” and one is an “after” scene from a crime – you have to solve both puzzles to solve the mystery. We normally have more in stock if you check back in a few weeks there will be more theme selections.