Bill Bell is one of our most popular artists and last week he honored us with a visit. We gave him the grand tour and he autographed some of his prints for our gang. We took him to lunch and tried to convince him to do a humorous Staveland scene. He loves the idea so keep your fingers crossed.
Just Around the Corner
Ok, maybe the holidays aren’t just around this corner but they’re around the next corner and I’m already excited. Why? Just look at all the great images Susan and the gang are offering in this mailing! There are so many great puzzle images…who wouldn’t get excited?! But what’s the best part of all this? I’ll get to cut some of them!
My Best Times
You’ve probably heard me say (ad nauseam) that cutting is my favorite thing to do at Stave. It’s hands down what I love the most. And this time of year is when I take the time to really make some sawdust.
Plain or Fancy?
Any puzzle cutting is good but when it’s an image I really like, it’s even better. I liken it to chocolate. A Hersheys kiss can be just the thing on a tough day but if you’re nibbling on a Godiva: Wowza! But maybe you like scotch. Cutting a 2-way Trick puzzle would be like a little nip of Dewars for me but if I found myself at the saw cutting Winter’s Gifts by Paul Landry, that would be a glass of Macallan. A really big glass! Want to know what I’d do with Winter’s Gifts? I’d craft some snowflakes swirling in the sky, a squirrel in the tree, someone putting the finishing touches on the snowman and maybe a lamp lighter at the lantern. The kids all bundled up in cold weather gear offer a great opportunity for some color-line cutting. Each youngster would be a little puzzle within your puzzle. And some skaters. A young lady in a layback spin and some young men playing hockey are in order for this puzzle. And what skating pond wouldn’t be complete without someone falling on their keester ? ! Bringing the puzzle to life is what I love. Oh, the things I could do!
Let me entertain you!
Who’s Behind These Pages?
Have I got you wondering where all those wonderful puzzle images come from? Let me introduce you to a few members of the Stave team. Susan, Bri and Geoff (yes, we have another gentleman in our midst!) are the creative force behind our puzzle mailings.
Susan is probably a familiar face to many of you. She’s been with us for a gazillion years and in that time she’s grown from Graphics Assistant to Queen of Licensing for Stave. She’s the one who finds all this incredible work from the talented artists. She has the perfect knack for finding just the right images for puzzling from the traditional Americana like Bringing the Cows Home by Linda Nelson Stocks to the wildly weird like Hell from Hieronymus Bosch. With so many images to choose from, Susan has a fun but tough decision deciding what images will be shown in each mailing. If we let her, she would show them all! Especially the ones with horses and dogs. Susan is a gentle soul. You can’t help but like her. And if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on your puzzle table, let Susan know. She’ll do her best to get it for you.
Briana, or Bri, as we call her, works her magic to get the puzzle image onto paper. In the old days we would purchase the actual prints. Nowadays, we use a digital file and print them ourselves. Bri is the clever one who decides where we’re going to hide that little Shadow clown that you search for and she also sizes the image to the correct number of pieces. What do we love about Bri? She’s bright and cheerful, and has a great attitude. She’s eager to learn and comfortable throwing out ideas and she’s not afraid to pick up the phone and help you with your order. If she happens to beat Tammy to the phone the next time you call, ask her about her buddy, Gus. He’s a cute little Yorkie/Silky mix.
Geoff is the newest addition to the Stave crew. He’s fresh out of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors in Game Art and Design. Steve’s excited to have his help in orchestrating some videos for our website. Being the young whipper-snappers, Geoff and Bri keep us up on all this new social media stuff and are helping us keep up with the times. Geoff is settling in nicely at Stave and doesn’t seem fazed to be working with a bunch of women. He goes with the flow and didn’t bat an eye when I arrived the other morning and called out a “Good morning ladies” when I breezed through on the way to my office.
I guess you could say he’s already become one of the girls! Susan, Bri and Geoff are just a few of the wonderful people I get to spend each weekday with. I consider myself very lucky to work with such a great crew. Watch for more of our terrific team in the coming months.
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.
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
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.
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
You’ve probably had a peek at Steve’s new Trick puzzle design, Atlantis. It’s great. It’s beautiful. It’s clever. Well let me tell you, if he were in the shop right now I would THROTTLE him!! Now don’t get me wrong… it’s an awesome puzzle but the cutting of the design is an absolute BEAR and that’s putting it nicely!! I’ve put more Atlantis puzzles into the trashcan than I have into Finishing!! Steve’s got so many complex tricks in the design that when you mess up one tiny little spot (like underneath the manta ray) you have to trash the ENTIRE puzzle. It doesn’t matter if you’re an hour into the puzzle or 3 hours in (like when I blew the fifth swap area) it goes to the trash!! Yep, I’ve got puzzle piece flying left and right but not in a good way! Not to worry, though, because I’ll get even. After spending every second of every minute of the past 8 months on Atlantis, he and Martha headed to Boise so Steve could catch his breath and ease back into the real world. Just wait until he opens that nice little package I sent him. He’s going to wish it were a bomb
I hate for these words to cross my lips, but I think Summer is just about over here in New England and Fall is getting ready to move in. After I get done with my favorite summertime activities – whether it be hiking, camping, canoeing, playing a little volleyball or badminton, or just hanging out at the beach – I love to come home for some R & R and sit in front of a Stave puzzle! Now that the nights are getting a touch cooler here in Vermont a puzzle and a hot fudge sundae are always a great way to end the day! (It is still Summer after all!) I can’t think of any better time to puzzle!
On those really cool, rainy days that we seem to be getting lately…a Stave puzzle is a great way to pass the time and bring some fun to a dreary day. Sometimes I will even invite friends and family over for a day of puzzling! What great fun that is! When we all sit down at the puzzle table… it’s game on!! There are always a couple of us who like to make it a competition and see who can put the most together or complete the puzzle first. The rest of us just like a nice relaxing experience so we can enjoy the satisfaction of each piece clicking into place. What kind of puzzler are you? Speaking of puzzles, I hope everyone is gearing up for a puzzle filled Labor day weekend. Break out your favorite puzzles and make a day out of it, rain or shine!
Okay..Okay! So we said Fall is around the corner and while I know we all love Summer and hate to see it go! There is one great thing about Fall… the AMAZING foliage we have here in Vermont! Have you ever been here during peek season?? It is stunning all the red orange and yellow colors painting the mountains. If you haven’t seen Vermont in the fall it is a definite must do! And while you are visting Vermont feel free to stop by the Stave shop and take a tour! Looking for a fabulous place to stay while you are visiting?? Why not stay at a STAVE approved Inn that have a great selection of our puzzles for you to work!
The Rabbit Hill Inn sits in the charming little town of Lower Waterford, Vermont. Beautiful vistas of the White Mountains of New Hampshie and the hills of Vermont can be seen from the front porch and lawn of the Northeast Kingdom Bed & Breakfast. (For more info visit www.rabbithillinn.com)
Another one of our favorites is Twin Farms! A unique country estate getaway situated on over three hundred acres of wildflower meadows, hardwood forests, ancient gardens and private ponds in Barnard, Vermont. Did you know that Stave will be taking over Twin Farms for an entire weekend in October?? If you ever needed a reason to come visit, this is the perfect excuse! See below for details! Can’t wait to see your happy faces there! – Penelope-
Technology is great! Can you imagine not having a remote control for your TV?! How about the garage door opener? Now, that is something I don’t want to live without. I think you’ll agree, we rely heavily on these modern day inventions.
I’ve begun to wonder if all these technological advances are too much of a good thing. I used to play the game Battleship with my sister when we were kids. It was so fun to yell out, “You sunk my battleship!” She’s four years older than me so I was usually the one screaming that out while she hooted and cheered for herself. Now we play Scrabble via our phones. I make my word, gloat at the amount of points I earn, and hit send. Then nothing, until she takes her turn. There’s no subtle bragging, no snickering, no gleeful “I’m a winner!” dance, because we’re not even in the same town while we play! There’s something missing in the experience, in spite of the fact that sometimes I can beat her!
Stay with Tradition
The nice thing about working a jigsaw puzzle with someone, is you are in the same room together. You get to share in the excitement of finding a piece. You can help each other search for that piece you know is there somewhere but manages to escape you. Putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together does more than make a pretty picture. It brings the people around you together and that’s a beautiful thing.
Get out a puzzle today and see what happens. I bet you’ll have a crowd, gathering around you in no time!
Arts & Crafts
Great news… I’m designing a puzzle for Stave!! Well, I guess I should say I’m going to try my hand at designing. That’s super exciting, huh?! I’ve always loved art and I know I want my future job to have something to do with art, so when my mom suggested I try to design a Teaser puzzle, I was super psyched! I love a challenge, so this is going to be a really fun project for me. I already have a few ideas ready for my mom to check out… hopefully she likes one of them and thinks it will make a good puzzle!
Next on my list of things to do at Stave is my Weekly Challenge, which I think I have mentioned before- I put together one puzzle a week and write about it on my StavePuzzleNuts blog. If you have any ideas for my next challenge, let me know by posting something on my wall at www.stavepuzzlenuts.com/profile/MadisonPerrin!! I would love to hear from you. I know there are sooo many amazing puzzles to choose from, so I’ve decided to give you a category to work with… drum roll please… it has to have SOMETHING to do with flowers!! Don’t let the category hold you back, though. If you have a favorite puzzle you think would really challenge me and think I would love, let me know and I might be able to make an exception for you!
Another thing I’m still waiting to hear about is the photo contest that’s going on here at Stave. Where are your photos?! If I were you, I’d be taking my picture right now to win that $100 off coupon!! All you have to do is get a little creative and snap a quick pic of you and your friends puzzling, send it to us, and you could be the lucky PuzzleNut winner. You’ll be the envy of all your friends!! So good luck to everyone and I hope to be seeing some crazy photos coming my way soon!!
P.S. Check out a few of the neat cutting elements used in the puzzle below. Wow! Tell Madi what your favorite puzzles are firstname.lastname@example.org.
WOW! I don’t think it’s been this hot in a VERY long time. I woke up this morning around nine(!) and it was already 86 degrees out. I didn’t expect that to happen this summer based on how much rain we’ve had. I guess we’re kinda lucky to have some rays! I was stuck inside all day yesterday working, so when I finally got home I went swimming. I love having such a great swimming hole close to my house. It makes it pretty easy for me to take a quick dip in the river when it gets hot out!! We even have a rope hanging from a tree. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m just a big kid – the more fun I can have the better!
Enough about the weather… let’s talk about ME!! Wait – we’re already talking about me! Anyway, this past weekend was my annual get together with my best girl-friends from college. Since we all live so far away from each other, we rotate which one of us will be the host of the event so the traveling time is always fair. It was my turn to be the host this year. I love, love, love getting together with my friends, and I love entertaining! It can be so much work, but I know how to throw a good party – everyone always has fun! The weekend couldn’t have been any more perfect. I’m so glad none of us have changed, and we are still just as crazy as we were 10 years ago.
Speaking of not changing…one of my good friends, Becky, hasn’t changed a bit…she’s still just as nosey as ever! Everyone was settling in, unpacking for our long weekend of fun, and Becky was getting to know her surroundings…which, as I mentioned before, was my house. While snooping around Becky found my puzzle stash, and before too long the puzzling had begun. As you’re already well aware – once you get started, there’s no stopping! And let me just say, if you wanna catch up with some friends, the best way to do it is by popping open a bottle of wine and sitting around a puzzle table. We talked about things I never thought would be brought up again. Let’s just say it’s a good thing there weren’t any other ears in that room!
Hey! Where are your photos for my photo contest?! I need to see some funny pictures of you guys puzzling!!! We’re just dying to give away some Stave moola. I know if I were you, I would be getting my camera ready right now and taking some wild and wacky pictures so I could win! I sure do hope to hear from you guys soon so we can get the ball rolling on this contest, but until then enjoy this nice summer weather!!
Penelope’s WACKY Photo Contest
Get out your camera!! All you’ve gotta do is send us the craziest, wackiest, WILDEST photo you can take of you(and your friends if you like to share your puzzles) putting together one of your favorite Stave puzzles! Don’t be afraid to go all out with this one, we’re hoping to see some pretty wild entries!! Here are a few of my favorites from our last contest.
Here’s how it works: It’s as simple as 1,2,3!
1. Send us your wild and wacky photos. Don’t be shy! Show the world whatcha got.
2. In July, August and September we’ll pick our favorite three photos each month. Those three puzzlers will each win $100 in Stave Moola! Woo-hoo!
3. Then, we’ll let the Stave Puzzlenut community decide which photo goes to the final round in October. You could win an additional $500 in Stave Money!!!
Don’t wait! Enter today, you could be a $600 winner!
Send pictures to: email@example.com or you can mail it to us at
Stave Puzzles, PO Box 329, Norwich, VT 05055.
You can also read more about the contest and upload your photos to StavePuzzleNuts.com