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!

New Jigsaw Puzzle App from Ravensburger Digital

Got an empty schedule this Saturday and finished all your jigsaw puzzles lying around? Well, now there’s something out there that will let you keep puzzling while you wait for a new order in the mail or until you’re ready to trek over to the store. The new Ravensburger Puzzle App is $2.99 on the iTunes store. Designed specifically for the iPad, this app lets you do jigsaw puzzles from the comfort of your couch. You won’t have to bend over the craft table, worry about the glare on the pieces, or shoo the cat away so he doesn’t ruin your hard-sorted puzzle pieces. You can complete this puzzles from anywhere with a WiFi connection–that’s great for those people that want to wind down in the coziness of their bed just before going to sleep!

With your $2.99 purchase you’ll get six puzzles to choose from, three tutorials, relaxing background music, and eight table themes. You’ll get to keep track of your achievements and leaderboards via Game Center, and the best part of all–you get the freedom of choosing your piece count!

From 20 to 500 pieces, you get to make the choice that’s best for you. No longer do you have to eye a puzzle with a great image but wish it came in the right piece count! Now you can make it happen with the click of a button.

The in-app puzzling should come naturally to those that love jigsaw puzzles. The pieces will be scattered randomly over the screen, and there will be a drop-bar tray for safekeeping of those pieces you want to save for later (you’ll never be able to lose a piece again!). There will be a snap sound alert when you’ve fit a piece into the correct spot by moving and rotating, and a handy image as a reference that you can place for your convenience.

Don’t like the six puzzles offered with the initial purchase price or itching to the perfect puzzle for your iPad? The app also comes with a built-in library where you can purchase more puzzles for an additional fee and search by theme or release date.

This is the perfect solution for people without a lot of space to do their puzzles or people that just love their iPad!

Springbok’s Annual Image Contest

Hey Puzzle Lovers! Think you have what it takes to create a great puzzle, with the keen eye to catch the details that will be fun for everyone to piece together? We’ve got great news for you! Our friends at Springbok hold an annual puzzle image contest that lets your creativity shine – plus you could win a $500 cash prize and get your image turned into a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle!

You can enter for FREE starting on National Puzzle Day (January 29th) and the contest is open all the way until March 31st! That means you have plenty of time to take and submit as many pictures as you want!

Check out the winners from the past three years below, and read all the rules and regulations before you get started. Either way, submit and have fun! There’s nothing to lose!

2013 Winner: Ava Montalvo. Title: Sew Crafty. 500 pieces.

2012 Winner: John Razza. Title: Spicy, Hot! 500 pieces.

 

2011 Winner: Hannah Jones. Title: Colorful Canopy. 500 pieces.