Puzzle 626 - Shakespearean Fantasy

By Custom Puzzle Craft

Home About Cutting Styles Journal Custom Puzzle Log Gallery Puzzle Log 100 Puzzles Project Annual Auctions
Puzzle 625 Puzzle 645

Puzzle 626 - Shakespearean Fantasy
Source image © James Christensen
Commissioned from a poster provided by the customer
Poster may be purchased at James Christensen

Some very cool pieces in this puzzle
Pieces like these are for the collector, not small children who will immediately break them!

Puzzle 626 figural set
The circle / star with 25 points represents the customer's 25th wedding anniversary (design, my idea).
The icon in the middle with three curved knobs is something designed to represent energy: in this puzzle I placed it in the stormy sea.
The initials are of the customer and his wife
Shakespeare's head, embellished by interior cuts, was inspired from a painting I found on the web

Puzzle #626, Shakespearean Fantasy, a print by James Christensen, is one of my spectacular Creative style puzzles and immediately follows #625, the first time I've cut back to back major creative style puzzles.

Puzzle Maker Notes:

The Initial Cutting

Large puzzles are difficult to cut during the initial phase, using a scroll saw, as I have to manipulate the large puzzle board (sanded Finland Birch plywood with the mounted image glued to it) around a very fine blade without breaking the blade. I need skill to execute the initial board subdivision cuts in the cutting style I'm using for the puzzle well enough so that the initial cutting appears as nice as the subsequent cutting done when the board has been subdivided into smaller pieces and is much easier to manoeuvre. The size of the board and the commissioned number of pieces as well as the cutting style go into deciding how tight to cut the curls and other undulations during the initial cut. As with all of my Creative style puzzles, I avoid attempting really elaborate cuts during the initial run, otherwise ruining the puzzle is almost guaranteed. I find that I can blend in a reasonably interesting initial Swirl Curl cut with the rest of the puzzle as Creative style is an extension of Swirl Curl (not Long Round or Grid).

As the height of this board was more than 32" long (before I cut the border), this meant I had to stand far away from the blade so the puzzle board would not hit my chest, yet lean over so I could spin the board around the blade, one hand has to be close to the blade to keep the board firm to the table while the other hand turns the board. Normally I'm sitting while cutting, only for the initial cuts of large boards do I stand. Both hands participate in applying board pressure against the blade. I use a magnifier lamp for viewing most of my work when cutting Creative style. Looking through the magnifier while working with large boards during the initial cutting can be difficult. The most difficult part of the initial cut is the part just inside the edge of the board - here the board turning requires the greatest arm movements. The initial cut for "Shakespearean Fantasy" went well, except for the part at eye level of the right-most of the three cauldron witches on the edge. I later blended in the cuts with the rest of the puzzle using "flow cutting" and "continuation cut" techniques.

Creative Style endeavors

Whenever I cut large Creative style puzzles, it is virtually mandatory that I show off some of my state-of-the-art cutting in the puzzle. I had just finished the spectacular Salvador Dali puzzle, The Last Supper (625), a puzzle where I explored some "pipe" cutting - a follow on to some pioneer work of this type in Tree with Crows (564) and I wanted to continue exploring "piping". Show-off cutting requires a nearly uniform area of color and is better if the color values are very dark or very light, not neutral. If the colors are busy, the cutting is lost in the camouflage. Shakespearean Fantasy has some nice dark values around the perimeter and offered me a little playground.

Puzzle #626, reverse - detail 1

Refer to the picture, reverse detail 1, above

1) The customer requested that I include some "Geometric" cutting style work (see Geometric Cutting Style). I chose to use elements from an extremely early puzzle I cut. The central shape at "1" is surrounded by four very precisely cut neighbors, all four can fit interchangeably into the center piece. For effect I cut additional central "docking" pieces to the left and right.

2) A fairly deep plain spiral. I sprinkle some of these in my Creative style puzzles for variation and because they are cool to cut!

3) A "bubble run" with just four bubbles. The runs usually have three or five. I must have run out of room here and decided to end the run with a curl with a flow cut send out.

4) An egg. Eggs are variants which appear in many of my Creative style puzzles. I once had a customer specifically request "no eggs", so not everyone like them. I've never seen a jigsaw puzzle cut with eggs other than my own. Eggs pieces are much smaller than the normal pieces which appear in my puzzles and have just one interlock.

5) Just to the right of the "5", some somewhat parallel lines. These structures are an architectural relief to the curls, which like "sweet" and "sour" compliment each other.

6) Another run of lines with the ones just to the right of the "6" echoing the ones below the "6". My cutting is dynamically influenced by what has already been cut in the immediate vicinity.

7) A third area of lines with some arcing.

8) Ooops there are two "8"s in the picture. The first "8" is lower left. A standard gear curl. An example of the most common type of Creative gear / whirly curl I cut. These are sprinkled in my Creative style puzzles along with bubble runs as a banner of the style.

8) The second "8" upper right. Just to the right of the "8" is a shock wave structure. These structures can form in response to something I already cut or something in the puzzle's picture. I've been known cut elaborate structures to draw attention away from cutting I don't like! In this case, the round knob below the "8" triggered the shock wave. Some shock waves can have a very sharp pronged structure leading the wave.

9) This puzzle has cool edges (discussed below), and took me a LONG time to design. The cutting in the confined corners adopted to and complimented the environment.

Puzzle #626, reverse - detail 2

1) An example of a "pipe": two lines "pass through" a slender curl. Just about all of my cutting is done on the fly; the pipes, being more complex, require me to stop cutting for a minute or two while I think how they are going to "work".

2) Curved line just to the right of the "2", one of a zillion examples of flow cutting (passing "through" the vertical knob).

3) Another pipe structure, just to the left of the "3" not as well executed.

4) Two gear curls paired - I usually do one or two paired gear curls in my large Creative style puzzles.

5) The fairly elaborate Whirly piece to the right of the "5" has a bit of a problem in the center area. I was going to do one kind of curl (prongs curling clockwise) but changed my mind due to space limitations, resulting in a little stutter. My puzzle eye has evolved to the point that I can see this kind of problem, if you want to call it a problem, in many jigsaw puzzle cut by others :-). Not in curls, but other kinds of pieces. My complex curls are almost always cut from the inside going out.

6) The "mushroom" knob to the right of the "6" was cut before the line going through the "6". The line which goes through the "6" is a flow cut of the line leading into the mushroom knob (from the bottom side), combining to give the appearance of a long knob just to the right of the "6". Nothing fancy but the kind of detail which appears all over the place in my Creative style and even Swirl Curl puzzles.

7) Just to the upper left of the "7" is a knob extending to the left, and right above it, one to the right. This configuration was originally restricted to "bow ties" structures but have become a bit more common in their raw form. There are at least three other instances in this picture. I have a rule: "never three or more in a row". Why? Because there is a style made up of just this kind of cutting used by other puzzle cutters - it is too simple to cut and does not have a "Creative soul".

As it happened (from my Journal archives)

Note: I've corrected all entries to reflect the correct title "Shakespearean Fantasy"; was originally journaled as "Shakespeare Fantasy".

August 16, 2005

Tuesday 4:45 pm - I resumed focusing on puzzles today, a day later than indicated on Sunday. In further examining the schedule, I moved up the Seewald puzzle to #627, pushing down some others. I received confirmation for the second Wedding Reception puzzle I mentioned the other day. This will be a custom collage that I will design using a bunch of photos provided by the customer. I inserted this one in the #4 position as it has a moderately short deadline.

I mounted #626 Shakespearean Fantasy, #627 Jumping Koi, and #631 Green Dragon. The big mount for #626 went very well. I also scanned a photo for #630, the other Wedding Reception puzzle. The scanned image is going to require some Photoshop work, due to the unusual matte finish on the photo.

I still need to design and print the template for the border for Shakespearean Fantasy, some figurals and a cluster of "geometric pieces", per customer request. I'll get this done tomorrow morning and I expect to do some initial cutting of this puzzle tomorrow. I also expect to print and mount #628 and #630.

I declined a nice puzzle order today, customer wanted the puzzle in three weeks. An unresolved marriage proposal order will now be declined if the customer gets back to me as "early next week" has now passed. ALL future orders with deadlines prior to October 15th will be declined. In the past week I've declined about a half dozen requests for what turned out to be orders for cardboard puzzles.

The August eBay puzzle will now very likely be a K. Chin of some sort, with the promised massive eBay Creative puzzle delayed. I very much want a Last Supper class puzzle on eBay to see how it does. Might not even be September, but it WILL be this year. It will have number one priority come October if not made before then.

I want to focus more on learning dancing, particularly ballroom and my puzzle business is significantly interfering and will do so a whole lot more in the coming month or two. I also want to resume my "Art Objects" project, and yes, some day resume my investigation into metal work! By early October I will reviewing my overall situation and will decide on how to proceed.

August 17, 2005

Wednesday 5:52 pm - Busy puzzle work all day, but still no cutting. Been sitting in front of computer all day, something like 10 hours. The design of the massive border template for Shakespearean Fantasy, took about five hours, including printing, much longer than I planned. The design required a lot of thinking when it came to the corners and overall scaling. I wanted a repeating "Chippendale" type border and to get the sequence designed and scaled properly took "forever". Also designed the figurals. The rest of the day was spent getting the Marriage Proposal image printed and then much longer - dealing with scanning problems for the Wedding Reception puzzle image, the particular matte paper does not scan well despite several attempts, so a lot of tedious cleanup work is required in Photoshop something I've only started.

Now it looks like cutting won't start until Friday. I still need to design some "geometric figurals" for the Shakespearean puzzle, need to finish the Wedding Reception puzzle scan cleanup, do printed text design for this image, print, mount, blah, blah. OK life isn't that bad, but I do prefer to be at the saw than in front of a computer. As I mentioned yesterday the door for new orders for completion prior to October 15 has been slammed shut and bolted, nothing new will appear in the Puzzle Queue for quite a while!

August 18, 2005

Thursday 6:29 pm - Decided I had to get moving on Shakespearean Fantasy. First, I decided that the "geometric" section would be a section of a pattern from one of my earliest puzzles, puzzle #4. I then started cutting, subdividing the giant board with the usual very harrowing cutting involved in such endeavors. Cutting OK. Relieved that the most difficult part of the puzzle was past (took more than hour just to do the initial subdivision - and I do this standing, leaning way over the big board to watch the blade), I took a short break and then started cutting the border completing about 1/4 of it. I stopped because I have just one dance class during the day each week and that had priority. This border is more difficult to cut than The Last Supper's border because of the varying curves. Afterwards I spent a quite a bit of time continuing with the Photoshop work required for puzzle #630. Tomorrow I plan to get up early and work on Shakespearean Fantasy and then a couple more hours on #630.

August 19, 2005

Friday 3:20 pm - Put in about six hours on Shakespearean Fantasy today, cutting well under way and going well. I finished the border and finished the initial cutting with the board now in manageable sections. Although my "weekly dance cycle" has activity both tomorrow and Sunday, I do plan to get cutting in each day and by Monday I'll be in "marathon mode". I still have some Photoshop work to do today on #630. Things are getting a little tight as several puzzles other than Shakespearean Fantasy are due by early September. Next several weeks are going to be very busy. In late September I'll be taking a week off.

Next update won't be until late Sunday.

August 21, 2005

Sunday 10:29 pm - Got some work in this weekend: Saturday about 3 hours, further subdividing one of the Shakespearean Fantasy sections and cutting a Shakespearean face figural. Sunday about three hours cutting. The rate of progress is even slower than the Dali puzzle as the Shakespearean Fantasy poster paper is not as good and requires careful handling to avoid peal backs since there are several layers of laminated paper weakly bonded within the poster. The puzzle is less than 10% completed. Chances are increasing that I'll have to put this puzzle aside toward midweek as I running out of time for three other puzzles with firm deadlines. Also, the August eBay puzzle may be cancelled, pushing back the 100 Puzzles Project ending month to the January 2010 from December 2009. Cutting marathon starts tomorrow.

August 22, 2005

Monday 5:35 pm - Full day at the shop today, eight hours including lunch break and a couple short breaks. Shakespearean Fantasy cutting continuing, going well. The "bust of Shakespeare" figural looks excellent now that the surrounding pieces have been cut and assembled. Did some "plumbing" today, "installing" some "pipe" cutting, looks cool. I had much better experience with the puzzle's paper today, even though I did cut some fairly intricate "whirlies" per the normal course of my Creative style.

The puzzle is a bit more than 1/4 done, and I expect to reach the 1/2 way point by tomorrow evening as I'll be putting in another full day.

August 23, 2005

Tuesday 11:30 pm - Did quite a bit more cutting today, the puzzle is now nearly 1/2 completed.

Around the middle of today's cutting, the saw snatched the work from my hands while I was cutting an intricate piece, severing it. I complicated the problem by attempting to glue together the piece. I've been in consultation with the customer and have been requested to continue with the puzzle, for this I'm grateful.

Here is a picture of the work in progress after today's work:

August 24, 2005

Wednesday 5:57 pm - Puzzle marathon continuing with about eight hours of cutting. Cutting today was excellent with a lot of cool pieces cut. No problems today. I'm now around 3/4 done. The puzzle could have close to 600 pieces rather than the promised 500, as I didn't adapt as much as I should have with the puzzle board being much larger than the Dali puzzle [the previous puzzle I cut].

One thing that is happening with this puzzle is that I'm developing "Creative style stamina". With the Dali puzzle I would be mentally exhausted after three hours or so, I've found that I can go almost a full day now. This doesn't mean that I'm going to cut large creative puzzles more often, should the orders come in.

I have a dance lesson mid-day tomorrow, so I'll only put in a few hours of cutting. I'm expecting to complete the puzzle on Friday. Over the weekend, the cutting marathon continues as I have to cut a 500 piece Seewald puzzle. I expect to ship both puzzles on Monday. The cutting marathon resumes on Tuesday, as deadlines are approaching for several wedding related puzzles. Customers take note that I'll ship overnight instead of 3-day economy if I have to. I declined another order today, a small nine piece puzzle.

I have formally cancelled the August auction, as I decided I don't want to make a small "filler" puzzle this time. I have removed the corresponding entry from the Puzzle Queue. The next eBay puzzle WILL be a major Creative style puzzle, in September or maybe October, depending on how my schedule goes. I will be taking a week vacation in the second half of September.

Puzzle 626 - Substantial progress made today
The white spots on the remaining section in the background are pieces of paper with figural outlines

Shakespearean Fantasy in progress
Note the quill pen in the black area upper left, and Shakespeare's portrait in the black area upper right
Uncut portions are visible on the floor in the background (near the top of this picture)

August 25, 2005

Thursday 3:54 pm - This morning I continued work on Shakespearean Fantasy before leaving for a class. I subdivided the final section and completed the figurals (including two Initials pieces) and some "Geometric" pieces. Cutting went well. Due to the late hour and inland heat I'm going to call it a day for cutting. I expect to complete the puzzle tomorrow and continue with the schedule as previously planned.

August 26, 2005

Friday 5:23 pm - Shakespearean Fantasy is done, certainly an impressive puzzle! Spent close to eight hours at the saw [today], and after cutting all week my arms are quite tired! Making puzzles and dancing certainly is good upper body exercise, I've lost between 15-20 pounds in the last year. Today's cutting effort went well, again no problems. The puzzle is still at the shop; I need to sand the back and vacuum. [Eventually shipped on the 30th].

Shakespearean Fantasy
James Christensen
Date Completed
August 26, 2005
15" x 31" with Chippendale Border
Cutting Style
# Pieces
Color Line Cutting

© John S. Stokes III - Puzzle Crafter & Webmaster

Home About Cutting Styles Journal Custom Puzzle Log Gallery Puzzle Log 100 Puzzles Project Annual Auctions
Puzzle 625 Puzzle 645