CAT | Piece of Mind by Jennifer
A Little of This
There’s been a lot going on this summer so I have plenty to share with you. Let’s see if I can get it all in (or remember it!)
First of all, we’re busy preparing for our shop baby. As I’ve mentioned, our Graphics whiz, Bri, and husband, Jason, are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child. He’s coming in early November and we’re all excited! Last month we managed to surprise Bri with a little baby shower. She doesn’t usually miss a trick around here so we’re quite smug we were able to pull it off without her catching on to the surprise. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Stave baby so we’re all looking forward to this big event. We’ll keep you posted on the news of the arrival.
We also recently celebrated Geoff ’s one year anniversary with Stave. He fits right in with our creative group and it feels like he’s just ‘one of the girls’. We enjoy working with Geoff and I think Steve likes having some male support in the building!
And a Little of That
It’s always fun when our puzzlers come for a visit and this summer we’ve been lucky enough to receive many friends at our door. It’s great to see friends, old and new, and we love to give our puzzlers a chance to get a first hand look at where all of the magic happens. We’re a little out of the way for most travelers but if you find yourself in our area, please stop by and say hello. You could meet the crafter of one of your puzzles!
We’ve been having a great time working with our new website developers. They’re a great group of guys. They spent a full day with us, taking lots of photographs and getting a real feel for what Stave is all about. We’re so excited because they “got it” right away! Some people have trouble understanding how passionate people can be about puzzles but these guys figured it out right away. Once you actually get your hands on a Stave and can see the quality and workmanship, things kind of fall into place. But besides all that, this crew was a blast to work with and we’re excited we found them. We’re looking forward to our new website and know you are, too!
We’ve also been working with our Stave artists on some great new puzzle designs for you. Cheryl Johnson has begun preliminary sketches of the next puzzle in our Puzzle the United States series. We’ve completed Vermont, Maine, New York and Massachusetts and now we’re heading west. California is in the works!
Susan Greenleaf and Samara Cary are working on new Teasers that I think all you 4-sword puzzlers will love. I was serious when I said it was my goal to give you more challenging puzzles this year and we’re doing it. Susan is developing a floral design that will knock your socks off and Samara is working on something that will thrill horse lovers and possibly take you on the ride of your life! We’re still in the development stages on these designs but we hope to get the prototypes cut and out to our Testers very soon. Keep an eye out for these two new puzzles in the next couple of months.
Wow! I’m out of space already. Until the next time!
He’s Stepping In
Hey Everyone, just a quick note from me, Jennifer. Steve is helping me out by writing this month’s newsletter. This is his story and he needs to be the one to share it. Enjoy!
Two months ago I received a nice note from Barbara Bush, a Stave customer and friend for many years, inviting Martha and me to lunch with her and family at Walker’s Point. What a nice surprise! Of course, we accepted! Remember that a year ago Mrs. Bush, with her assistant and 2 Secret Service agents, drove over to Staveland for a tour and lunch with Martha and me. And here we thought that was the pinnacle of our experience. Little did we know it would only get better!
On Monday, August 6th, we drove to Kennebunkport, 3 hours from our home in Norwich, Vermont, to stay with friends. Then on Tuesday, with perfect weather, we arrived at the Bushes Walker’s Point guardhouse at 1:00 sharp. After checking us over and inspecting our driver’s licenses, the guard gave us directions to the main house where Mrs. Bush was waiting for us with her two cute little Maltipoos, Bibi and MiniMe. Mrs. Bush took us into their living room where we chatted with her, President Bush, and several others. After visiting for a bit we enjoyed a delicious lobster salad lunch. Following lunch, Mrs. Bush took us on a tour of Walker’s Point in her golf cart, entertaining us with wonderful tales. We felt very special and honored to be welcomed so warmly.
Time flew and a little after we exchanged gifts with Mrs. Bush and departed. As you can imagine, the whole experiencewas mind-boggling and surreal. We pinched ourselves as we drove away, smiling all the way back to Norwich.
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.