I was born into a family that loved to play games and do puzzles. With three siblings and many friends; we played lots of different games and had fun doing giant jigsaw puzzles together. We also had a few wooden puzzles, heirlooms that had belonged to our parents. When my kids were born, we acquired more games, more puzzles, including a lovely wooden children’s puzzles, with two layers! I would have loved a wooden “tricky jigsaw puzzle,” but it seemed that they all cost hundreds of dollars, a bit much for a “toy,” and each year, at Christmas, my husband would find me a very unusual, intriguing cardboard puzzle, which everyone would have fun putting together.
One year my husband learned about Artifact Puzzles and I received not one, but two, for Christmas! I loved them, they were beautiful, the whimsies so exquisite, such unusual cuts! Everyone enjoyed them, me most of all, but we did share them with the family in Canada, and my sister and Mom in the US. Artifact puzzles became the “best gift” my husband could get me for Mother’s Day, my birthday, and, of course, Christmas. Eventually my sister , my mom, and I each had our own collection. My husband set-up a document online so we could keep track of the puzzles, who had what, where it was, who wanted what, so that we wouldn’t get two copies of the same puzzle.
Last Christmas I was super-lucky and received not one, not two, but three Artifact puzzles! Only one had been on my “wish list” and that was Paul Bond’s “Ode to a Zen Koan” puzzle, designed by Jeff Bambas. It is a gorgeous, fun image and Jeff is the master of the split tendril shaped puzzles, which vary greatly in difficulty (Crystal Grove is the hardest), the smaller ones are easier. They all are a delight to put together. While I love to “share” the puzzles, this particular one I have to do in complete isolation, if I want to do it “all by myself” otherwise, anyone within range, simply can’t resist adding a piece, or two, or three, or sitting down to help me finish the whole thing. I suppose this is true of most Artifact puzzles, although there are a few which are so difficult that sometimes one of my sons, despite trying, can’t add a single piece. Another son will think of that as a challenge and then try especially to do the hardest puzzles. “Ode to a Zen Koan” is not extremely difficult, there are very distinct colors and shapes, so there are plenty of clues. The unusually shaped pieces will challenge some people, until they begin to “get the hang of it.”
Yesterday, we celebrated my birthday and my friend, who also loves puzzles and games, came, and I loaned her an Artifact puzzle (a tradition) that she had never done before, and gave her a big slice of cake to take home with her, and she specifically asked to borrow “Ode to a Zen Koan” which she had already done once, but that was last January with another puzzle loving friend. I am sure she wants the pleasure of doing the whole thing again, by herself. So do I, but I had to tell her, “Sorry, that one is in Utah; my sister just started it yesterday, to cheer herself up.” I am looking forward to seeing my sister and getting it back in October. I remember doing it with other people, but this year has been crazy for the whole family, and I would like to do it again, all by myself, if I get the opportunity!
This is probably one of the best “gifts” one could find for a true lover of puzzles. It’s great to do in the company of others, or by oneself. It’s a bit tricky, but not extremely hard; the image and whimsies are delightful. It has a very unusual edge, so it is not at all obvious to identify edge pieces. I can guarantee that you can enjoy it more than once!