CAT | Piece of Mind by Jennifer
I’ve spent two of the last three weekends enjoying the company of some of my favorite people. In mid- February my husband Rick and I traveled to Walland, TN., with fellow Staver Carol and her husband Hank. Our destination? Blackberry Farm, a luxury hotel and resort situated on a pastoral 4200- acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains where we spent three days puzzling with friends, old and new. Last weekend, Rick and I were off to The Point, a unique, private estate where luxurious splendor is weaved amongst New York wilderness in Saranac Lake. Carol and Hank have hosted the puzzling event at The Point in past years but this year they had too much going on so Rick and I filled in. After only a couple of hours of experiencing The Point, I sent Carol a message letting her know she made a BIG mistake by not being there. Rick and I fell in love with all The Point has to offer. Once again, we were greeted by familiar faces as well as new but by the end of the weekend, we were all comrades in puzzling.
Our puzzling weekends at these amazing getaways offer something for everyone. Some puzzlers pack the most they can into the weekend, enjoying a spa treatment or a hike between puzzling sessions. Some who come vie for the much coveted title of Over Achiever. This award is bestowed upon the first place winner in the puzzling competitions and it’s accompanied by a very fashionable medal.
And then there are those who come to simply puzzle: all day and all night. They are there when I come down in my robe for my first cup of coffee in the morning and they are still there puzzling into the wee hours. When do they sleep?! I ended our whirlwind time of puzzling thinking how much Stave Puzzles has in common with these fabulous places. We all have one goal in mind: to give you the best experience you can have. Whether it’s plying you with amazing food and drink, organizing a hike through the woods, a boat ride on the lake, or creating a puzzle masterpiece for you to make order out of havoc, we’ll do whatever is in our power to make the time you puzzle with us everything you could want and more. There’s something very gratifying in it and that must be why we’re all doing what we do!
Come join us at our next puzzling event. You’ll love the locale, the people and the puzzling. I promise!
Steve does some great work when he’s on vacation. He and Martha head to warmer climates and while they’re enjoying the sun and sand, the wheels in that whacky mind of his are turning like mad. His vacation time is when some of our best puzzles have originated. Last month when Steve and Martha were relaxing, Steve spent a good amount of time on the internet looking at websites. No, he wasn’t shopping for a new jigsaw, he was looking at what really makes a website stand out because it’s high time we updated the Stave Puzzles website! We need to make it easier for you to find just what you’re looking for.
The internet has totally changed how we work. In the old days we put together a four page black and white mailing piece that may have shown 12 or 15 images. When the option of high-quality color copies became available to us, we graduated to producing mailing pieces in color that were great supplements to our professionally produced catalog. Mailing days were always fun. We’d get some chips and salsa and a bag of M&M’s and gather around the table to fold pages, stuff envelopes and stick mailing labels. Then we’d have to add postage and deliver them to the post office. Whew! As you know, we still put out a newsletter every few weeks but a large majority of our puzzlers head straight to our website to find their puzzles.
Shop at Home
With the widespread use of the internet, we’ve had to change with the times. You don’t need to sit and wait for the newsletter to hit your mailbox, anymore. You can have our entire catalog at your fingertips any time of day or night. You can find the perfect puzzle to take with you on vacation while you’re sitting at home having breakfast on a Saturday or check the selection of Gustafson prints while you’re waiting for the car to be serviced at the garage. You can even sneak a peek at the newest Teaser puzzle while you’re supposed to be working!
Keeping It Simple
Because the web has given you the freedom to peruse our site at your leisure, it’s important that we keep things fresh, exciting, and easy to use and that’s where we’re going to focus our energy in the coming months. We’re going to give you great categories like Destinations where you can search for puzzle images of specific locations like New York or Paris. If you are looking for something for someone who loves the arts, you’ll find a category for that, too, where we’ll have puzzles with a theater or musical theme. And if you want to find a puzzle for your spouse who has a love of gardening, you’ll head to the Hobbies category where you’ll find the perfect gardening themed puzzles to choose from. We’re even going to have a Sock it to Him/Her category where you’ll find just the right puzzle to drive your puzzler crazy! Keep watch in the coming months. You’ll see great things coming your way!
Until the next time,
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.
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
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.