Puzzle 844 - Little Houses

By Custom Puzzle Craft

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Puzzle 844, Little Houses, was the first puzzle featuring a customer provided image I made after more than two years and four months had passed since the previous one! The main reason for the long interval was the intense concentration required to make the last dozen or so puzzles of the 100 Puzzles Project. The photograph was provided by the customer, a photo of some bric-a-brac on the side of a house in Europe. The huge expanses of light and dark spaces provided a great theatre for doing some really excellent Creative style cutting.

Puzzle #844 Little Houses - A major Creative style puzzle

As it happened (from my Journal archives)

May 31, 2011

Tuesday 10:09 pm - After a good break it's time to get back to the Puzzle Queue. Tomorrow (Wednesday), I'll work on preparing the image for Puzzle #844 (currently untitled, but for now will be called Little Houses) and print it. The image will be scaled to a very large size about 30" by 20". The puzzle will be cut in my Creative style with a goal of 1000 pieces or a few more. On Thursday I'll prepare the board and mount it. If the mount fails / has flaws I'll reprint the image and prepare a new board and have it professionally mounted. Cutting will start sometime next week. I expect this puzzle will take all of June to cut, with the cutting time spread out.

June 1, 2011

Wednesday 7:35 pm - Today I started the preliminary work on Puzzle #844, Little Houses. I combined and edited two images and received customer approval for the final image. Didn't get around to printing it, will do so tomorrow, the print will take between 1 and 2 hours to do. I'll have a picture of the image here tomorrow.

June 2, 2011

Thursday 7:40 pm - Went to my shop this afternoon and prepared a "gorgeous" board for the puzzle. But..... when inspecting the print, noticed a seam where the image from one merged image ended and the other began. Very difficult to see in Photoshop but evident on the print, not acceptable. So... later this afternoon spent time addressing the issue, about 50% done with the somewhat tedious, but mandatory work. Tomorrow will complete the work, reprint and later in the day drop off the print and board for mounting, will pick it up Monday.

Thursday 9:21 am - The long printing job for #844, Little Houses is currently in progress at my Epson 7600 printer's highest resolution and lowest speed. I've decided I am going to have the print professionally mounted. For some reason or other I thought I had glue mounted The Garden of Earthly Delights panels myself, but upon reading my archived journal did see that I had the panels professionally mounted due to their size and that one of the panels was to be cut in my demanding Creative style like #844 will be. It is getting the images laminated which produces a cut I do not prefer over non-laminated puzzles, I will not be getting #844 laminated just as I did not get the TGOED puzzle laminated. TGOED cut extremely well. I'll prepare the board this afternoon and drop off the print and board for mounting before my mounting shop closes for the day. I expect to pick up the mounted board tomorrow.

Puzzle #844, being printed
Actual image is printing darker than shown here

June 3, 2011

Friday 3:44 pm - Received a call that the mount was done, just finished picking it up, looks perfect. This weekend I'll apply an acrylic coating. Initial cutting starts early next week.

Friday 2:11 pm - This morning I completed the Photoshop work for #844, Little Houses, and this afternoon I dropped off the board and print for mounting. On Monday I'll pick it up, the initial cutting will take place Tuesday or Wednesday.

June 6, 2011

Monday 6:12 pm - Cutting of #844, Little Houses, is finally underway! Late this morning I left for my shop. I first did a practice initial cut using a plain board about the same size as the puzzle. That took about an hour and I made one error which would have ruined the puzzle if for real, but I continued with the cut to gain practice. I then realized I had forgotten to design the wavy border for the puzzle, went home and did that, then back at the shop, carefully taped the border template in place. In mid afternoon, I started the production initial cut. I timed it, one hour and 16 minutes! I nearly "lost it" about 3/4 the way done, but the situation was not a show stopper. A piece will have a knob a bit narrower than preferred, but when I do the detail cutting I'll protect it with strategically placed curls, something I've done quite a few times before. Doing a cut like this is draining, like driving a car for eight hours! Anyway I'm very happy I'm past this point

Tomorrow I'll begin work on one of the halves, further subdividing it, and perhaps will get to some individual pieces. I did cut one piece today, a "checkpoint" piece. I usually do one or two of them when doing a very long initial cut and need a convenient blade change location! The cut also went well in that I didn't hit any voids and didn't break any blades - breakage is common when rotating a giant board around a tiny blade! I'll have some pictures tomorrow.

Also of note, Karim and Erin were at Mixed Media today, painting the very weathered front roof trim!

June 7, 2011

Tuesday 7:35 pm - Today I was at the shop for most of the afternoon. First I subdivided the two halves of puzzle #844, into quarters, then (lol) napped for about 3/4 hour in the Mixed Media common room, then cut the wavy border for all four sides. Cutting went well today. The piece count is now 3, with two more "checkpoint" pieces cut. Tomorrow I'll focus on one of the four sections (the lower left one).

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 7, 2011

June 8, 2011

Wednesday 4:04 pm - Detail cutting of puzzle #844, Little Houses is in progress. Cut about 50 pieces in 3 1/2 hours, pretty typical of my Creative style. Cutting went well. I did hit a void but no damage, the affected pieces will be routinely repaired later. Took me a while to ramp up, so to speak, and am happy with the progress! I expect to cut a similar amount of pieces each day that I go to my shop.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 8, 2011

June 10, 2011

Friday 7:38 pm - Very busy day today w/ puzzle cutting in early morning through noon, then Pilates, then a private dance lesson in Argentine Tango. This morning in about four hours I cut an additional 80 pieces or so, the higher productivity due to having already subdivided part of the next phase of work. Cutting continues to go well, cut a couple pieces which alone are worth the price of the puzzle, lol. Also cut a second egg piece. Forgot my camera. Not sure when I'm going to resume, have other things to do tomorrow, may get back to cutting on Sunday, Monday for sure... will bring my camera and take a picture at the start to document where I ended up today. Total piece count is around 205.

I've updated the Puzzle Queue to reflect that #844 is now the "2011 June" puzzle instead of "2011 July". The August puzzle has been moved up to July. I plan to take August off. A second February 2012 puzzle was cancelled, never heard from the potential customer.

Thursday 3:19 pm - Today I went to the shop early, was there over four hours, got about 70 more pieces done. The total count is around 125. Cutting went well. I had a goal of doing a 100 pieces but began to slow down when I reached 70 and decided to call it a day. I cut some nice pieces

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 9, 2011
Egg piece and Same Direction Whirly Curl at far left

Overall scene

Two nice pieces cut today (still have sawdust on them)

In my big Creative puzzles it is virtually mandatory that I cut one of these!
I call these "Same Direction Whirly Curls" as the curls end up pointing in the same direction
Very difficult to cut - and I do these freestyle no templates! Now "out of the way"!

June 12, 2011

Sunday 4:05 pm - Today I got back to my shop to resume work on puzzle #844, Little Houses. But first, more on the squirrel. Several days ago in an old puzzle box lid I noticed a small pile of corn kernels. As I sure didn't put them there I figured some animal must have. Today when I went into my shop I almost immediately noticed, right in the center of the concrete floor, a second small pile of corn kernels! I picked them up and put them in the box with the first pile. A quick search on the net found stories about squirrels "squirreling" away corn kernels and other items for future eating.

So now Custom Puzzle Craft is provider of corn storage services for squirrels!
The question is..... where are these coming from?

As for the puzzle, today I hit my first significant void, affecting the backs of two pieces. Sigh. Fortunately, I found the small chip-out section spanning both pieces. The situation is fully repairable to the point of not being noticed by the customer, but will take a substantial amount of time - I've decided to wait until the puzzle is done before addressing the issue. The frontal appearance is not affected in the slightest. Beside that, cutting continues to go very well. The Egg count is now up to four. I was in the shop for about four hours and cut about 51 pieces, count now about 258 which means the puzzle is about 1/4 complete as far as cutting is concerned.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 12, 2011
The section to the right is resting on a small box which contains a chip-out associated with the void I just mentioned.

One of the "white area" initial cuts made today (this is within the large bright white area, shadows caused by poor lighting)

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 10, 2011
The void hit today was in the uncut section.

June 13, 2011

Monday 2:07 pm - Another four hours at the shop today, cut about 74 pieces, now up to about 331, about 1/3 completed with the cutting. Cutting went well today, no void issues. I expect to get a few hours of cutting in tomorrow morning, before leaving to pick up a painting, doing Pilates, etc.

No evidence of further squirrel activity!

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 13, 2011

Detail of some of the area mostly cut today
The pieces will lie flatter after being sanded and vacuumed after all cutting is completed
Two eggs visible here, the one towards the upper right was cut today, the 5th one overall.

June 14, 2011

Tuesday 4:48 pm - This morning I was at the shop for just a couple hours; cut about 34 pieces now up to about 365. Cutting continues to go well, no issues, egg count now 6. Tomorrow I expect to put in a fairly substantial day of cutting.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 14, 2011

Another section of the white area - some cut yesterday, some today
The cutting lines will be clearer after the puzzle is sanded and vacuumed (3x).

June 15, 2011

Wednesday 2:37 pm -Today I got in quite a bit of cutting, was at the shop for about five hours. Cut about 89 pieces now up to about 454. Cutting went well today, no problems, egg count now up to 7. I'll be cutting on Thursday and Friday, but will not do any cutting this weekend due to a dance workshop and the need to get caught up on other things. This coming Tuesday (approx) the customer for the puzzle will be visiting my shop!

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 15, 2011

Detail of most of the area cut today

June 16, 2011

Thursday 6:54 pm - Longest day at the shop so far on puzzle #844, over six hours. However about an hour was spent meeting an artist regarding renting space at the Studio. My impression was good, we will have a general meeting about this next Monday evening. Cut about 80 pieces, now up to about 534, over 1/2 done, egg count now up to 9. Did some very nice work today. Also cut a second Same Direction Whirly Curl, very few of my puzzles have two of them. I completed the cutting of the second quadrant and began subdividing the third quadrant, generating seven pieces from that one. I also addressed the "narrow knob" piece I mentioned on June 6, that went very well. The prospective artist and her son saw my work in progress, were quite impressed!

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 16, 2011

Detail of some of the area cut today

June 17, 2011

Friday 1:20 pm - Due to a lot of scheduling problems / conflicts, no puzzle cutting today, as much as I want to. Very little, if any will be done this weekend. Next week is looking good - Monday afternoon and the rest of the week.

June 19, 2011

Sunday 11:25 am - Managed to get to the shop this morning for a couple hours of work. Cut about 35 pieces, now up to about 569, egg count now 10. Did some very nice cutting, particularly in further board subdivision cutting. I expect to do some cutting tomorrow afternoon and during the rest of the week. Now have to head off for the continuation of a tango workshop which resumes in 35 minutes!

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 19, 2011

Some detail of today's work - I like the flow near the bottom of the picture

June 20, 2011

Monday 9:54 pm - Cut 40 pieces today, will have update tomorrow morning. Cut a "billion $" piece.

June 21, 2011

Tuesday 5:05 pm - The customer for #844, Little Houses, visited my shop today. Always a pleasure to get a visit from customers or other puzzle cutters as they are so few and far between! I talked through the cutting of one piece (a nice one in harmony with adjacent cutting), perhaps the first time I ever did that for a customer. I also enjoyed a quick ride in his Chevy Volt, a hybrid which in my opinion is far nicer than the Prius in terms of creature comforts!

As for cutting, didn't do much, perhaps 30 pieces with the count up to about 639, closing in on the 2/3 mark. No eggs yesterday or today. Tomorrow and Thursday I plan to put in substantial days of cutting as I will have a lot of free time and want to move this puzzle along..... but if I get tired I will stop as quality is vastly more important than quantity.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 21, 2011

Tuesday 9:28 am - Quick update, need to get to shop.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 20, 2011

Most of yesterday's cutting

Billion $ piece (April 2012 note: later referred to as a "Sway Curl")

Rare revelation

June 22, 2011

Wednesday 3:47 pm - I've been tipped off that another wooden jigsaw puzzle maker, Palmetto Puzzle Works has a Garden of Earthly Delights puzzle on eBay. Obviously less ambitious that my spectacular grand finale of the 100 Puzzles Project! See eBay Auction.

Wednesday 3:29 pm - Major day of cutting, was at shop for close to seven hours. About 101 pieces cut with the total count up to about 741, egg count 11. The piece count has been running a bit higher than my plans, the total count could come in around 1020-1050, which would be a record for a Creative style puzzle. Cutting continues to go well; also been quite a few days since I hit a void. The dark section is a real tour de force for displaying my Creative cutting style, perhaps the best presentation ever! Tomorrow I expect to get some cutting in, then a longer day again on Friday.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 22, 2011

Some of the dark area cut today; also extended the row of houses
That's a "tread gear" with embellishments upper right center.

June 23, 2011

Thursday 5:46 pm - I've been alerted to a puzzle being auctioned on eBay in a style referred to as the "John Stokes" style. Quite far from any of my styles, really .... see another eBay auction

Thursday 5:22 pm - Another productive day, was at the shop for about four and a half hours, about 83 pieces cut with the total count up to about 824, egg count 12, no new voids. I've now just about finished the dark area. Impressively I was able to maintain a consistent level of high quality creative cutting throughout the entire section! With a Pilates class tomorrow morning that I forgot about and a dance lesson in the afternoon, I'm now not expecting to do any cutting tomorrow. Saturday also unlikely.. My goal is to get all cutting, sanding, inspection / void repairs, counting, boxing etc. completed before the end of the month.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 23, 2011
Puzzle turned around since yesterday, picture taken from other side of the work area

General area of work today
I particularly like the curves and the immediate area around the "gear curl" upper left center

June 24, 2011

Friday 12:17 pm - I pushed back my Pilates session back so I was able to get in a morning session at the shop, 3-4 hours. Cut just 41 pieces as time was spent subdividing the final main section. Cutting continues to go well, total count up to about 865, egg count 13, no problems.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 24, 2011
(Yesterday's "as of" date corrected)
The paper is using for tracking the piece count

General area of today's detail cutting

The squirrel came into my shop, didn't have camera at hand, small, brown and gray, it went to the area where it had placed corn kernels on the floor, that I had since removed. When I got up, it scrambled out of the shop. I placed a few kernels back on the floor, took a picture of them, will monitor. Out front, the partially eaten tomatoes were gone. Have to rush off now to Pilates.

June 25, 2011

Saturday 7:41 pm - Due to technical problems with my web hosting company, this website was down for several hours this morning. All OK now.

No puzzle cutting today. I expect to do a lot of cutting tomorrow and Monday, possibly completing the cutting on Monday. I'd then do void repairs Tuesday and have the puzzle ready for pick up by Wednesday afternoon, if all goes to plan.

June 26, 2011

Sunday 7:36 pm - I was at the shop for over five hours today and made good progress towards getting this puzzle done, in what I think is my 16th day of cutting this puzzle! Cut about 97 pieces, total now around 962, egg count 14, no new voids. Cutting continues to go well. I figure I have about 65-70 pieces to go including my signature piece. I plan to finish the puzzle tomorrow if I feel well, as right now I feel a bit weary.

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 26, 2011
A detail picture of today's work did not come out

As for the wildlife situation at my shop, the corn kernels I placed on the floor last Friday were gone! So I placed the remaining portion there today. Meanwhile the rabbit or whatever has done considerable damage to the tomato plant, about half the tomatoes were gone and many partially eaten pieces were on the ground outside the hole. Finally, a lizard was sunning itself in front of Mixed Media when I arrived late this morning.

Today's lizard (about actual size)

June 27, 2011

Monday 6:15 pm - Close to 8 hours at the shop today, cutting is completed! Preliminary count 1036, including 16 eggs, final count may be somewhat higher. Cutting went well today, in fact I did some excellent cutting, keeping the momentum up right through completion! Again no new voids. There were two void problems encountered in the early days of cutting (June 8th and June 12). After I completed the cutting, I repaired the June 8th void satisfactorily, no longer noticeable from the front. The second one required repairs to two plies of damage on the back side, I did the first layer, trimmed it and then did the gluing for the second layer, I need to go back to the shop tomorrow morning to complete the repair, should go well. Afterwards I'll sand back, take photos and bring the puzzle home, for disassembly and piece counting.

I need to prepare for a class and get a bite to eat, will have pictures later this evening.

Monday 9:58 pm - Here are a couple pictures....

Puzzle #844, Little Houses, status as of June 27, 2011 - Cutting Completed
I'll have a higher resolution picture after I have completed the void repairs and sanded the back

Some of the last pieces cut
Towards the upper right there is an "inside out" Whirly Gear, a very rare cut!

As for the Mixed Media animals, the second batch of corn was untouched and there was further devastation at the tomato plant despite my flooding and blocking the rabbit hole yesterday, most of the tomatoes are gone.

June 28, 2011

Tuesday 4:20 pm - Went to the shop this morning and quickly addressed completing the remaining void repair with excellent results. I then sanded and vacuumed the puzzle my usual three iterations fashion, took photos and brought the puzzle home. After a pretty long rest I looked that the photos and found them unsatisfactory. In some lights the puzzle looks fantastic and in other lights the reflectivity is somewhat uneven. I then did another photo shoot and was able to get some better pictures. However all of the pictures have one kind of problem or another - I need a professional studio! The picture I'm including here is a bit too blue in the upper half, yet the cutting shows up in both of the main sections better than in any other photo I took.

June 30, 2011

Thursday 7:26 pm - I finally completed the inspection / cleaning / counting of the pieces of Puzzle #844, Little Houses. Final piece count 1099, quite a bit higher than what I expected. This frequently happens in my Creative style puzzles as I may make an extra cut within a section to optimize harmony beyond the initial estimate for the section, still I was quite surprised at the count! Final egg count was 15 not 16.

Very late on Tuesday I was saddened to learn of the passing of a dancer friend, whom I had danced with hundreds of times in the past years; I went to her funeral today.

I have not heard from either of the next two customers in The Puzzle Queue. I will let things slide until after July 4th and then will begin working the list until I find someone who wants a puzzle now! I will not extend the duration of list beyond August 2013 nor will I double up puzzles in one month. There is a few month's worth of slack in the schedule. I plan to work out a forfeiture policy in the next week or so, if necessary.

Little Houses
Customer photo
Date Completed
June 28, 2011
30" x 20" prior to cutting; about 29 11/16 by 19 15/16"
Cutting Style
# Pieces
1099 - a new record for an all Creative style puzzle
Color Line Cutting

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