Handcrafting the world's finest wooden jigsaw puzzles since 1974

The Chief Tormentor

The Deliciously Devilish Blog of Puzzling News From Staveland

Champette is born! Harder than Champ?

Champette was crafted and shipped to Riccardo, my star tester, yesterday. It should be 2-10 times harder than Champ, I hope. So it’s time to wait and see how Riccardo does with it. Why is it harder? How about this: it’s 2-sided and it’s double-decker (just head and tail) and both head and tail rotate and a mystery reason I will not divulge. Hmmmmm. Keep in mind that the below photo is my first prototype of Champette and it does not look like my normally crude prototype. It looks almost like a finished design because I wanted Riccardo to get the full effect. There is some roughness to the cut but that will disappear with the final version.

We’re Still A Beautiful State. Come Visit!

Whew! Hurricane Irene sure has made a mess of things! As you’ve probably heard our area was in deep water a couple of weeks ago when the storm swept through town. We’re used to the snow and ice in the winter, but when five feet of water comes rushing through there’s not much you can do about it.

Thankfully, our friends at Stave came through OK. I spoke with Tammy a couple of days after the storm and other than a few people who couldn’t make it to work for a couple days due to washed out roads, there were no problems. The areas directly around them, however, were hit hard. The excessive rainfall caused record flooding of rivers causing major destruction in many areas. The raging waters ripped trees from the riverbanks, dragging them downstream. Cars and trucks were taken away in the current and homes were literally lifted off of their foundations. The homes that were able to hold strong were filled with several feet of mud. It’s hard to imagine the devastation unless you’ve seen it.

An event like this can either make you or break you and I’m proud to say the Vermonters are rising to the challenge! Rescue workers were out in full force during the storm, helping people evacuate their homes, directing them to the Red Cross shelters set up around the area. Local fire departments and rescue squads were at their best rushing from one location to the next helping all who were in need. The town road crews have been working practically non-stop to repair and, in some cases, totally rebuild roadways that were washed away. And the townspeople have banded together, offering food and supplies to those hit harder than themselves. Friends and strangers helping each other shovel the mud from basements, haul the ruined remnants of their lives to the town dumps. Life goes on and it’s made just a little bit easier by the kindness of others.

Sadly, many historic covered bridges were damaged during the flooding. Vermont is known for and proud of these iconic landmarks and to have them ravaged by the floodwaters was devastating. One in particular, the bridge in Quechee, by the Simon Pearce restaurant and glass blowing facility, was damaged. The Stave gang has spent many a holiday party at Simon Pearce, enjoying the good food, camaraderie of their co-workers and relief that the holiday rush was over for another year, all the while enjoying the view of the covered bridge. Hopefully they’ll be able to view it again this December.

Thousands travel to New England in the Fall to view the changing leaves and appreciate the scenery. In fact, I have a bunch of friends coming for a visit in a couple of weeks. I’m going to take them North to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury and after enjoying the foliage along the way we’ll sample a scoop or two. Then we’ll head over to Shelburne to the Shelburne Vineyard for a little wine tasting and after that maybe we’ll make it to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory just down the road. And after enjoying the reds, oranges and yellows in the trees, we’ll head back home to see who still needs help clearing out and re-building. We can all get by with a little help from our friends.

P.S. – Remember Stave is having a Puzzle Party at Twin Farms in Barnard, Vt at the end of October! There is still time to join in on the fun.

For more info visit: www.StavePuzzles.com

 

Stormy Seas

Piece of Mind?!

The name of this newsletter is a little deceiving for me this week because I’ve had no peace of mind since I began cutting Steve’s new Trick puzzle, Atlantis. I’ve felt like my ship has been sinking for days now. SOS!

Come bail me out!

Atlantis is based on the theory that in 9000 B.C. , the city of Atlantis disappeared in a horrendous storm.

The Journey

Atlantis has been in the works since January. Yep, eight long months. Steve has literally been consumed with it for practically every minute of every day. Just ask Martha! She was trying to get Steve’s involvement in planning a special 50th wedding anniversary celebration and she had a very hard time tearing him away from the puzzle. He’s lucky she’s agreed to keep him for another 50 years.

The puzzle takes you through the workings of Professor Samuel K. Robinson’s research and ultimately reveals where he found Atlantis to be located. That is if you can solve the puzzle! New designs go through many prototype stages but Atlantis has beaten our record. Steve spent hours locked in his home office, working and reworking the puzzle on paper and then he’d come to the shop and cut it in wood. Some things worked, some things didn’t! I can honestly say that all the time he spent on it was worth it. It’s an amazing puzzle. Now let’s talk about the puzzle cutting.

Lost at Sea

When the design was finally ready to go, Steve went through an arduous training session with Elizabeth. It wasa painstaking process because the steps you have to work through in its cutting are intense. The puzzle consists of seven circles, each larger than the next and it’s safe to say, they’re loaded with puzzlement. The difficulty levels range from a not so hard one sword to a hair pulling four swords. I rate the cutting experience a ten plus swords.

Why am I complaining? Because Elizabeth left for vacation and Steve and Martha were finally going to take some time to get their lives back after eight months of living with Atlantis day in and day out. That left little old me holding the bag. Thank goodness I roped Ginny in to help me. I knew I needed a second pair of eyes and ears when Steve went through the puzzle with me. There’s so much to remember!!

The training session went well. I remember thinking, “This isn’t so hard! What’s the big deal?!” Steve and Elizabeth had documented the cutting steps well and Steve incorporated several things into the design to guide us in the cutting. Then he left town and all hell broke loose!

Things started out smoothly, cutting up the puzzles we had worked on with Steve. But then we had to begin anew. Ok, step one isn’t so bad. Nicely done. Step two? Got that! Step three is when the water got choppy. Who would think that one little quarter inch difference in placement of a trick cut could mess something up so horribly? The nature of this design is such that one little mistake messes up the entire puzzle. There’s no saving it. The entire puzzle goes in the trash and you start again. So I did.

Step one, good. Step two, nice. Step three, I learned my lesson there, it worked great. Step four, man overboard! The angle on that baby has to be just perfect or else you get an oval instead of a circle. That’s all I can say about that. Back to the drawing board. Step one, good. Step two, good. Step three, made it. Step four, still afloat. Step five, tidal wave! How did that happen?! At this point I’m cursing Steve and wishing he had been on the island of Atlantis when it went down. Needless to say, it was a learning experience but Ginny and I weathered the storm and came out alive.

The puzzle is AMAZING and I think our puzzlers will love it. This may just be the trick puzzle that I have to own. You all know I’m a loyal Traditional puzzle fan but this design is so cool and clever that I want it for myself. I think it might be a while before I work up the muster to cut it for myself, though.

May your seas be calm- Jennifer

Champette is born! Harder than Champ?

Champette was crafted and shipped to Riccardo, my star tester, yesterday. It should be 2-10 times harder than Champ, I hope. So it’s time to wait and see how Riccardo does with it. Why is it harder? How about this: it’s 2-sided and it’s double-decker (just head and tail) and both head and tail rotate and a mystery reason I will not divulge. Hmmmmm. Keep in mind that the below photo is my first prototype of Champette and it does not look like my normally crude prototype. It looks almost like a finished design because I wanted Riccardo to get the full effect. There is some roughness to the cut but that will disappear with the final version.

We’re Still A Beautiful State. Come Visit!

Whew! Hurricane Irene sure has made a mess of things! As you’ve probably heard our area was in deep water a couple of weeks ago when the storm swept through town. We’re used to the snow and ice in the winter, but when five feet of water comes rushing through there’s not much you can do about it.

Thankfully, our friends at Stave came through OK. I spoke with Tammy a couple of days after the storm and other than a few people who couldn’t make it to work for a couple days due to washed out roads, there were no problems. The areas directly around them, however, were hit hard. The excessive rainfall caused record flooding of rivers causing major destruction in many areas. The raging waters ripped trees from the riverbanks, dragging them downstream. Cars and trucks were taken away in the current and homes were literally lifted off of their foundations. The homes that were able to hold strong were filled with several feet of mud. It’s hard to imagine the devastation unless you’ve seen it.

An event like this can either make you or break you and I’m proud to say the Vermonters are rising to the challenge! Rescue workers were out in full force during the storm, helping people evacuate their homes, directing them to the Red Cross shelters set up around the area. Local fire departments and rescue squads were at their best rushing from one location to the next helping all who were in need. The town road crews have been working practically non-stop to repair and, in some cases, totally rebuild roadways that were washed away. And the townspeople have banded together, offering food and supplies to those hit harder than themselves. Friends and strangers helping each other shovel the mud from basements, haul the ruined remnants of their lives to the town dumps. Life goes on and it’s made just a little bit easier by the kindness of others.

Sadly, many historic covered bridges were damaged during the flooding. Vermont is known for and proud of these iconic landmarks and to have them ravaged by the floodwaters was devastating. One in particular, the bridge in Quechee, by the Simon Pearce restaurant and glass blowing facility, was damaged. The Stave gang has spent many a holiday party at Simon Pearce, enjoying the good food, camaraderie of their co-workers and relief that the holiday rush was over for another year, all the while enjoying the view of the covered bridge. Hopefully they’ll be able to view it again this December.

Thousands travel to New England in the Fall to view the changing leaves and appreciate the scenery. In fact, I have a bunch of friends coming for a visit in a couple of weeks. I’m going to take them North to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury and after enjoying the foliage along the way we’ll sample a scoop or two. Then we’ll head over to Shelburne to the Shelburne Vineyard for a little wine tasting and after that maybe we’ll make it to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory just down the road. And after enjoying the reds, oranges and yellows in the trees, we’ll head back home to see who still needs help clearing out and re-building. We can all get by with a little help from our friends.

P.S. – Remember Stave is having a Puzzle Party at Twin Farms in Barnard, Vt at the end of October! There is still time to join in on the fun.

For more info visit: www.StavePuzzles.com

 

Stormy Seas

Piece of Mind?!

The name of this newsletter is a little deceiving for me this week because I’ve had no peace of mind since I began cutting Steve’s new Trick puzzle, Atlantis. I’ve felt like my ship has been sinking for days now. SOS!

Come bail me out!

Atlantis is based on the theory that in 9000 B.C. , the city of Atlantis disappeared in a horrendous storm.

The Journey

Atlantis has been in the works since January. Yep, eight long months. Steve has literally been consumed with it for practically every minute of every day. Just ask Martha! She was trying to get Steve’s involvement in planning a special 50th wedding anniversary celebration and she had a very hard time tearing him away from the puzzle. He’s lucky she’s agreed to keep him for another 50 years.

The puzzle takes you through the workings of Professor Samuel K. Robinson’s research and ultimately reveals where he found Atlantis to be located. That is if you can solve the puzzle! New designs go through many prototype stages but Atlantis has beaten our record. Steve spent hours locked in his home office, working and reworking the puzzle on paper and then he’d come to the shop and cut it in wood. Some things worked, some things didn’t! I can honestly say that all the time he spent on it was worth it. It’s an amazing puzzle. Now let’s talk about the puzzle cutting.

Lost at Sea

When the design was finally ready to go, Steve went through an arduous training session with Elizabeth. It wasa painstaking process because the steps you have to work through in its cutting are intense. The puzzle consists of seven circles, each larger than the next and it’s safe to say, they’re loaded with puzzlement. The difficulty levels range from a not so hard one sword to a hair pulling four swords. I rate the cutting experience a ten plus swords.

Why am I complaining? Because Elizabeth left for vacation and Steve and Martha were finally going to take some time to get their lives back after eight months of living with Atlantis day in and day out. That left little old me holding the bag. Thank goodness I roped Ginny in to help me. I knew I needed a second pair of eyes and ears when Steve went through the puzzle with me. There’s so much to remember!!

The training session went well. I remember thinking, “This isn’t so hard! What’s the big deal?!” Steve and Elizabeth had documented the cutting steps well and Steve incorporated several things into the design to guide us in the cutting. Then he left town and all hell broke loose!

Things started out smoothly, cutting up the puzzles we had worked on with Steve. But then we had to begin anew. Ok, step one isn’t so bad. Nicely done. Step two? Got that! Step three is when the water got choppy. Who would think that one little quarter inch difference in placement of a trick cut could mess something up so horribly? The nature of this design is such that one little mistake messes up the entire puzzle. There’s no saving it. The entire puzzle goes in the trash and you start again. So I did.

Step one, good. Step two, nice. Step three, I learned my lesson there, it worked great. Step four, man overboard! The angle on that baby has to be just perfect or else you get an oval instead of a circle. That’s all I can say about that. Back to the drawing board. Step one, good. Step two, good. Step three, made it. Step four, still afloat. Step five, tidal wave! How did that happen?! At this point I’m cursing Steve and wishing he had been on the island of Atlantis when it went down. Needless to say, it was a learning experience but Ginny and I weathered the storm and came out alive.

The puzzle is AMAZING and I think our puzzlers will love it. This may just be the trick puzzle that I have to own. You all know I’m a loyal Traditional puzzle fan but this design is so cool and clever that I want it for myself. I think it might be a while before I work up the muster to cut it for myself, though.

May your seas be calm- Jennifer