Life is puzzling - pure & simple !

tips & hints

Getting Started

The most important part of starting a jigsaw puzzle is having time and space. Never start a puzzle with the intent of finishing in one day, unless it's painfully easy or you have someone to help you. Chances are you will end up frustarted and disappointed because the puzzle won't be finished.

Take ALL the pieces out of the box before starting. You can't build a puzzle without seeing all the pieces. Working out of the box is never an advantage.
Carfeully disconnect any pieces that are stuck together from the factory pressing. This will require an exacto knife. It's best to cut from the back-side to prevent tearing.
Lay-out all the pieces into at least 2 groups. One for regular pieces; one for edges.
Give yourself lots of room. You need 4 times the space of the fininshed dimensions of the puzzle for laying out pieces. (Example: 500pc puzzle when finished is 2'x2' = 4'x4')
Use the box cover as your guide along the way. The picture will reveal elements and colors that will help build sections.

Building the Border

The first step for any puzzle is to build the puzzle frame border. These pieces always have one side that has a straight-edge (unless it's a circular puzzle) and they are always visually different from other pieces. They are much easier to assemble compared to other pieces. In layman's terms, it's the easiest place to start.

Find the 4 corners first and build from the corners whenever possible.
Join strings of pieces together, as images start to look similar to the box cover.
You may have to search the larger piece group for irregular shaped edge-pieces. There may be tiny straight-edges that look like they part of the main body of the puzzle.
Once completed, move the frame to the front of your work table and move all other pieces around to the perimeter of the puzzle in the shape of a horseshoe. You can then look at all the pieces with a sweeping glance from left to right.

Building By Color

One of the best ways to start the interior of a puzzle is to take pieces that have the same color or text and to build small sections. In the Wizard Of Oz puzzle, I chose to build the scarecrow's heart-clock, the magic wand, the witch's broom, and the ruby slippers first. I then positioned the sections inside the border to the approximate position based on the picture from the box cover.

Look for large areas of the picture where there are pieces of exact color match or texture. Things like sky-line, clouds, water, roads, or walls.
Look for lines or shapes that carry over several pieces, that are visibly unique. If you are building a puzzle with a building, look for windows, bricks and door pieces.
If there is text or names or trademarks, those pieces may stand out.
Leave faces, landscape and foilage to last. They are usually the most difficult to assemble unless they're a unique color group.

Setting Aside Time

Puzzles always take longer than you expect. Never try to complete a 500-pc puzzle in one day because it may be next to impossible. If you need the dining room table, you may want to consider a pizza night, take-out food or using the kitchen for a change. This is a hobby that can't be rushed.

Use a card table, ping-pong table, desk, dining room table or coffee table that is easily accessible from 3 sides and can be out of comission for awhile.
There are puzzle cloths that have a velcro tack that can be rolled up with pieces not assembled. You can also use a puzzle caddy which is like a portable suitcase.
If you invite friends over, be prepared to lose them for the evening to the puzzle.
Start small and work up. Never tackle a 2,000-pc puzzle if you haven't successfully completed a 500-pc, a 1,000-pc or a 1,500-pc puzzle. Puzzles above 1,000 pcs are extremely difficult and require experience and patience.

Framing Puzzles

Many people like to frame completed puzzles. There are many ways to do this, but the best way to frame a puzzle is to have it done professionally, or at one of those do-it-yourself framing stores. Remember.. this is a Springbok puzzle and when completed, will look like a work of art !!

I know it may be extremely difficult to cart a completed puzzle down to a store... So... you investigate first, take down the dimensions and if you choose, have the frame pieces built for you. Take them home, and then assemble yourself.
If you wish to have it done professionally, have the clerk make an art-print transport sleeve for you (usually 2 pcs of cardboard wafered and taped together like an envelope) take it home, then slide the puzzle in the sleeve. This will keep the puzzle entact and protected from the weather, while you transport it back to the store.
Metal frames seem to work the best. They come in a huge variety of colors. Metal frames have grooved channels where mounting hardware can be secured. (so you can hang it on a wall).
Backing boards should be strong and capable of withstanding humidity and glue.
Puzzles can be glued using a tack-dry adhesive, which you spray directly to the backing mat. The puzzle is then delicately positioned on top of the backing baord and pressed smooth. You can use double-sided tape instead, but be forewarned, it must be very strong tape and there should be several strips running down the center to prevent the puzzle from bowing.
Puzzles should be covered with glass. [1] It will protect the puzzle from eager little fingers trying to pick at the pieces [2] It will help secure the puzzle from collapsing or bowing from the frame [3] You can use conservation glass with built-in UV protection which will keep the puzzle colors looking vibrant for many years without fading [4] It looks professional when done and will last a long time without worry about durability.

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