Puzzle 929 - The Crystal Pattern

By Custom Puzzle Craft

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Puzzle #929 - The Crystal Pattern
The Fifth Annual Auction puzzle

As it happened (from my Journal archives)

March 21, 2015

Saturday 12:22 PM - I'm finally getting to the last two puzzles in the backlog. There is a professional film maker here in San Diego who wants to document the making of Tricky Circles #1. For this reason I'm switching the order of the last two puzzles, I'll make Annual Auction Puzzle #5 first. Last night I decided what I'll be doing for this puzzle. It's going to be a new Geometric Pattern Puzzle, with the underlying pattern the same one used for Synthesized Serendipity, but reworked. The name of the puzzle will be The Crystal Pattern. It will be quite large, almost 23" by 23" although octagon shaped. I'll cut the puzzle in Long Round and use regular sized pieces, not small as the puzzle will be extremely hard as my full sized pattern puzzles tend to be. The puzzle will have around 850 pieces at first guess. Late last night I was working on the design and a short while ago finished it, subject to review upon printing.

March 23, 2015

Monday 9:52 PM - I'm moving forward with The Crystal Pattern. It took three prints with some modifications to the coloring in between prints before I was satisfied with it. Today I prepared the board and dropped off the print and the board for mounting. With a print this large the chances of problems with a glue mount are quite high, so I decided to go with a professional cold mount. Not going with lamination, will add a light coat of acrylic spray when I get the mount back on Wednesday.

March 26, 2015

Thursday 10:33 PM - Last Tuesday I picked up the successful mount for Puzzle #929, The Crystal Pattern, A.K.A. Annual Auction Puzzle #5. Yesterday I put a coating of acrylic on the mounted print and today I started cutting. I completed the harrowing initial cut and then continued cutting, cutting the board into eight pie sections. Tomorrow I'll do some detail cutting. I've upped the estimated piece count from 850 to 900. Should have some pictures tomorrow.

March 27, 2015

Friday 4:39 PM - Thought I was going to get to the shop today, but too much house stuff. Maybe tomorrow.

March 28, 2015

Saturday 6:37 PM - I got in a few hours of cutting this afternoon. Cutting is going well, but slower than normal as assembling the puzzle as I go along is very difficult, plus it is harder to see the blade at times against the puzzle's pattern. Putting the puzzle together from scratch will be nearly impossible. I've cut about 136 pieces out of the projected 900.

Puzzle 929, The Crystal Pattern, status March 28, 2015

March 30, 2015

Monday 7:21 PM - No cutting past couple days. Expect marathon tomorrow. Would like to get done by end of week for 5th Annual Auction launch.

March 31, 2015

Tuesday 5:14 PM - I was at the shop for about five hours today and made good progress. I cut around 191 pieces bringing the total up to around 327 pieces. I expect to get some cutting in each day for the remainder of the week although the demands of the upcoming move have higher priority. Cutting continues to go well.

Puzzle 929, The Crystal Pattern, status March 31, 2015

April 1, 2015

Wednesday 9:55 PM - I did several hours of cutting early in the morning, cutting about 131 pieces bringing the total up to around 458, a bit more than half done. I expect to get some cutting in tomorrow.

Puzzle 929, The Crystal Pattern, status April 1, 2015

Puzzle 929, The Crystal Pattern, status April 1, 2015 - detail

April 2, 2015

Thursday 7:12 PM - Got another few hours of work in, cutting about 122 pieces, bringing the count up to about 580. I've increased the projected piece count slightly from 900 to 915. I expect to get some cutting in tomorrow afternoon.

Puzzle 929, The Crystal Pattern, status April 2, 2015

April 3, 2015

Friday 8:59 PM - Today I made a lot more progress on puzzle #929, The Crystal Pattern. Cut about 220 pieces today, bringing the total close to 800 pieces. I plan to complete the puzzle tomorrow. The auction will start on Monday or Tuesday. The puzzle will exceptionally difficult to assemble and I will write a warning to that effect in the auction description

At Mixed Media a new member joined today, Kim Ogburn - finally we are back to a full compliment of artists!

Puzzle 929, The Crystal Pattern, status April 3, 2015

April 4, 2015

Saturday 4:51 PM - Completed cutting puzzle #929, The Crystal Pattern. Puzzle looks excellent. Will have final piece count Sunday or Monday, with the auction to start Monday or Tuesday.

[Picture moved to top of this page]
Puzzle #929, The Crystal Pattern
Long Round cutting style with around 918 pieces

April 7, 2015

Tuesday 3:31 PM - Final piece count for puzzle #929, The Crystal Pattern: 916. Went to the shop this afternoon to repair two adjacent pieces with small voids, there were no structural integrity problems. During inspection I did find one small dead-end cut in a piece, that kind of error is so unusual for me, I must have been distracted. Fortunately it is barely noticeable (I noticed it from the back side), there are no structural integrity problems with the piece. Otherwise the cutting is excellent.

I'm going to start writing up the auction, hope to have it launched within a couple hours.

Tuesday 4:28 PM - Not going to get the auction off today due to conflicts. I'll complete the write up this evening and post it on eBay tomorrow.

April 8, 2015

Wednesday 5:22 PM - Auction launched.

April 13, 2015

Monday 11:14 AM - The fifth annual auction has attracted just three bids so far in the first five day. Maybe I scared people away by saying the puzzle is "ridiculous impossible" to assemble. A strategy could be to put the edges together first as they are fully interlocking and most of the edges should be pretty easy to find. Then concentrate on the large black areas and the light blue striped areas working from the larger ones down to the smaller ones. The rest then would be very hard.

The last puzzle of the backlog, Tricky Circles has been delayed until July. There is going to be a movie documentary made of the making of this puzzle! More details later. I've renamed the puzzle from Tricky Circles #1 to Tricky Circles has I've decided I'll be making just one, not a series of them. There is some chance that this will be the last commercial puzzle I make, and the current auction the last of the annual puzzles. I'm feeling strong callings to do other things.

April 14, 2015

Wednesday 1:23 PM -The fifth annual auction ends in about four hours. I'll be on my way to an environmental event in La Jolla and won't be online when the auction ends. Will post comments later.

April 16, 2015

Thursday 8:53 AM - The fifth annual auction ended yesterday afternoon, with no additional bids, the final selling price was $1,035. While that seems like a lot, on a puzzle piece basis it came in below the prices which my Geometric Pattern Puzzle garnered in the 100 Puzzles Project and even there the prices were well below the average of the other puzzles in the project. Also, eBay has dramatically increased its fees! They charged $103.50 so the revenue from eBay was actually $931.50. So after all expenses plus U.S. and California taxes, I'll be lucky to clear $500, this of course excludes ongoing Custom Puzzle Craft rent expenses, website expenses, etc. Given all the time I put into designing and making this work, it's not worth my time. That's the plain facts. And unfortunately the increasing problems with my right eye is making puzzle work more difficult. Add in my desire to do other things, as mentioned the other day, I'm confirming that the Annual Auction Puzzle series has come to an end.

All that said, I do plan to do further research into my Geometric Pattern designs with a goal of having an exhibit somewhere someday.

From the auction description:

Custom Puzzle Craft Annual Puzzle Auction #5

This is the fifth annual auction of a wooden jigsaw puzzle made by me in my Annual Puzzle Auction series. This puzzle, The Crystal Pattern, is the first of the Annual Auction series to feature one of my Geometric Pattern Puzzles.

The Crystal Pattern
23 inches wide and high, octagon shaped
Long Round cutting style. Regular sized pieces (about 2 per square inch)
916 pieces including two figurals and my Signature piece.
made by
John S. Stokes III
Custom Puzzle Craft

Over the course of Custom Puzzle Craft, since I sold my first puzzle in April 2000, I have introduced 13 Geometric Pattern Puzzle images. Nine of these were introduced as puzzles within the100 Puzzles Project and the other four during the normal course of business. The Crystal Pattern is now the 14th Geometric Pattern image to be offered as a puzzle, and is the first within the Annual Puzzle Auction series. The Crystal Pattern is a variation of a pattern I first offered as Puzzle #462 (100 Puzzles Project puzzle #30), Synthesized Serendipity.

Puzzle #929, The Crystal Pattern

My Geometric Pattern images are based on methodologies I first invented in high school using pencil and graph paper and then developed in college in the early 1970's as an independent study under an art department, programming an IBM 1130 computer in assembler with just 16K of memory. Later, I developed a version on the "Fat Mac" Macintosh using M68000 assembler language. The Macintosh was the first personal computer to have square pixels and the patterns looked great! The black and white program was offered for sale for a few years as "Expansions: A Stokes Pattern Generator" by a proprietorship I ran named Pixel Pathways. I sold about 60 copies in the late 1980's and early 1990's. In the early to mid 1990's I developed a color version and sold a few copies as "Color Expansions" before closing the business in 1997. The program requires the "Classic Mac" environment, discontinued by Apple in 2001. I occasionally think about reviving the program, I'd certainly like to generate this pattern to an even larger size!

The underlying pattern, first named "The Ice Pattern", was discovered by me in 1993 and eventually formed the basis of both Synthesized Serendipity and The Crystal Pattern with slight differences in structure and with consider differences in coloration. In 2015, just a few weeks ago, I used Color Expansions to "grow" the pattern in black and white and then executed a series of transformations using the program's "Color Logic" tool kit to highlight the structure of the pattern as it appears in the puzzle's image. Photoshop was then used to crop the image to an octagon, the pattern could expand to infinity! The digital image was printed on archival paper using archival inks. The image is 4103 by 4103 pixels in size and was printed at 180 pixels per inch.

And now to the puzzle!

The puzzle is "all me", the underlying pattern software, the creation of the image (one of the best I've ever done), the printing, and the cutting. Prior to cutting, I had the image professionally mounted using a cold press

This puzzle, with 916 pieces, was cut starting on March 26, 2015 and finished on April 4, 2015, with cutting on seven of those days. After the puzzle was cut, I handed sanded and vacuumed the puzzle three times, with 220 / 320 grit sandpaper once and then 320 grit only sandpaper twice. The puzzle contains two figures. The edges are 100% directly interlocking. Here is my warning: this puzzle is RIDICULOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE to assemble. That's it, you must want to spend a LOT of time to put this one together, if not, don't even think of bidding. Note: this puzzle will be the only one I make featuring The Crystal Pattern in full size. I may offer a "mini" version someday.

This puzzle includes my standard signature piece, signed the usual way (Custom Puzzle Craft, overall puzzle number, date and my signature) and I marked a second piece on the back to indicate the puzzle is Annual Puzzle Action #5, 2015. For this puzzle I used 5-ply Appleply. The Appleply cut extremely well, the puzzle looks great front and back. There were a couple pieces with voids successfully repaired. Inspection revealed one piece has a small dead end cut, but this does not affect the integrity of the piece and chances are it will be overlooked upon assembling due to the very minor nature.

Puzzle 929 Figurals: The Observer, a Fractagon and my Signature Piece.

The Fractagon has appeared in all of my full sized Geometric Pattern Puzzles. I coined the word based on the words "Fractal Polygon". There was a time when if the word "Fractagon" was searched on Google, only two pages would match, both on my Custom Puzzle Craft website! This was about 14 years ago. As of today, the word brings up 928 matches, the first 8 matches go elsewhere, it isn't until the 9th match does a link goes a page on my website!

Puzzle 929, reverse side
Before any pieces were marked

Puzzle 929, box of pieces

Note: I cut my jigsaw puzzles using a scroll saw, hand guiding the wood into the blade, this is not a laser or water jet cut puzzle. No templates were used for this puzzle, except for the figurals and Signature piece. My puzzles cover fantasy, landscapes, my geometric patterns, famous paintings, mythology - a diverse spectrum of the human condition and more.

Shipping cost for the The Crystal Pattern puzzle within the U.S. via 3-Day FedEx is $25.00. Contact me regarding international rates. I accept payment via PayPal only. California residents add 8% sales tax. I'll ship to anywhere in the world.

The Crystal Pattern
John S. Stokes III
Date Completed
April 4, 2015
23" x 23" (octagon shaped)
Cutting Style
# Pieces
Color Line Cutting
The Observer, Fractagon

© John S. Stokes III - Puzzle Crafter & Webmaster

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