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"The Chief Tormentor"
The Deliciously Devilish Blog of Puzzling News From Staveland

CAT | Piece of Mind by Jennifer

Oct 5
2011

Keep Me Out of Trouble

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.

 

Sep 7
2011

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

Aug 10
2011

Are You Old Fashioned?

New Wave

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.

Old School

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!
-Jennifer

 

 

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!!

-Madison

P.S. Check out a few of the neat cutting elements used in the puzzle below. Wow! Tell Madi what your favorite puzzles are info@stave.com.

Jul 12
2011

A Golden Anniversary


Beating the Odds

It’s sad but true, the divorce rate in America is pretty close to 50% and I’ll admit I’ve helped support those statistics. So when you find a couple who is beating those odds, you darn well better honor them! When we learned Steve and Martha would be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, we knew we had to have a party. Not only do they deserve it for setting such a good example for all of us, they deserve it because they are the first to help us celebrate the birthdays and employment anniversaries of everyone here at Stave.

The Celebration

Keeping anything a secret in this place is like trying to hide an elephant behind a telephone pole, so it was no easy feat keeping our surprise from Steve and Martha. It’s amazing we pulled it off !

Several weeks ago we called the gang together after Steve and Martha left for lunch. After putting our heads together, we decided a nice luncheon would be appropriate and wouldn’t it be nice to have a fancy anniversary cake and some bubbly! Tammy got on the phone (one of her favorite things) to search for caterers and Bri went on the hunt for a cake.

Suffice it to say, Martha and Steve were pleasantly surprised and honored. It felt good to be able to give back to the two people who give us all so much and we look forward to sharing their next 50 years with them!

 

Jennifer- In awe of such a remarkable feat.


 

Show Us Your Fireworks

Since I’ve been back from vacation for about a week now, I guess you could say I’ve adjusted to my normal routine again. Sadly, that routine usually only consists of working countless hours between my two jobs and trying to get to sleep at a decent time. It’s a good thing Stave is such a fun place to be, otherwise I think I’d have burnt out by now! Since I just turned 20 and am no longer a teenager, I’ve lost my only excuse for being lazy!

How was everyone’s 4th of July celebration? Mine was pretty good. I worked for the first part of the day, then we had a cook-out with family and I finished the night off watching fireworks with friends. I’d love to hear a few of your 4th of July stories, and maybe even see some fireworks pictures from you guys! Send me an email or check out my PuzzleNuts page and post some photos on my wall.

I recently wrote a new blog post on my PuzzleNuts page about what it is that I like so much about Stave Puzzles, and while trying to figure that out, I was checking out some recently ordered puzzles and found a few new favorites! One of them is Restful Retreat. What instantly drew me to this puzzle is the bright colors of the birds in the scene.

One of my favorite things is the colors we see in our every day life. And when I see a puzzle like this, which highlights some of the beauty color brings to life, I instantly fall in love.

Another of my new favorites is Neptune. I’ve always wanted to see a Sea Turtle but I haven’t been lucky enough to, yet. This puzzle makes up for that because it’s almost like looking at the real thing. The artwork in this image is just breathtaking. The little details are what get me. So much attention was paid to every inch of this painting, it makes for an awesome puzzle. I would love to put this together, so maybe it will be my challenge for this week!

And last, but not least, is Church at Auvers. I know this puzzle isn’t like the other two at all, but I love the style Van Gogh chose to follow when painting it. It gives off a very intriguing vibe which makes me want to stare at the picture, almost like there’s a story hidden in the art work. I know I would love to put this puzzle together solely based on the artwork itself.

But enough about me, what are your favorite puzzles? Send me an email or submit some ideas to my PuzzleNuts page so I can have some fresh ideas for my next weekly challenge! Hope to hear from you soon! Stay cool!

Tell Madi what your favorite puzzles are.. info@stave.com.


 

 

Jun 20
2011

Doing It Right the First Time

Please allow me to toot my own horn. I was reading the current issue of Consumer Reports the other day and came across an article titled “What’s wrong with customer service?” Things like this always interest me because I truly feel everyone at Stave does their absolute best to really be the best and I am so proud of that.

Consumer Reports surveyed 1000 consumers nationwide to find the customer-service related problems that bother them the most. The biggie? The inability to speak with a real person on the phone. If you call during our regular business hours of 8 am to 5 pm EST, you’ll reach a real live person, guaranteed. There’s no recorded voice saying how much they appreciate your call, telling you to push 1 for customer service, push 2 for whatever. I promise you’ll get a real live person on the end of the line. If you call after hours you’ll get our answering machine, but we do listen to it every morning, so let us know what you need and when we can reach you and we’ll take it from there. More often than not, some of us are still here after five so if we’re doing something that’s easily interrupted, we’ll pick up the phone. Heck, you might even get Steve on the line. How many companies let the President take calls without screening first?! The next time you call, it could be your lucky day!

The second biggest complaint is Rude Salespeople. At Stave, we all love what we do and it shows. If you get me on the phone I might gripe about all the rain we’re getting but that’s as far as it goes. Every single person here knows that you are our top priority and will do their best to make you feel it. If your little Biscuit eats a puzzle piece from your Timeshare puzzle for the fifth time, I bet Tammy will still be as sweet as honey when you call to confess.

The rest of the article was interesting, and honestly, I think we rate very high on them all. The only category we might struggle with a little was the complaint with the lowest rating: “Wait for scheduled repair person.” Even though you aren’t sitting at home waiting for one of us to show up, you might still experience the same feelings if you need a replacement piece made. Cutting those replacement pieces is Tough, with a capital T, so we tend to put those off until we have several to do. But give us a delivery date, and we’ll meet it every time!

I thought long and hard about what it is that makes us successful in providing great service and after the smoke cleared I came up with this: Steve has given us the power to do the right thing. I know if you call up tomorrow and tell me that “Olivia”, a 5-bolt Trick puzzle, is way too hard for you, I’ll tell you flat out to send it back. And I’ll do it with full confidence knowing I’ll be supported in my decision no matter if you decide you want to trade the puzzle for a simpler Trick puzzle (we’ll never tell), a different type of puzzle or even a refund. We want our puzzlers to gaze upon their little blue and green puzzle boxes with anticipation and glee, not dread, and Steve has made sure we all know we need to do whatever it takes to keep Stave one of your favorite places to do business with.

Put us to the test. -Jennifer

Time for Some R&R

Woo Hoo!! My family and I are headed off to Maine pretty soon, and I can’t wait! I want to spend my days laying in the sun relaxing, maybe with my iPod and with a puzzle. Ever since I got home from school for summer break, I feel like I haven’t had very much time to relax.

 

Between my internship here at Stave and my other job at the local general store, Dan & Whit’s, I’m busy every day. This is going to be a really nice break for me. I know it sounds a little crazy to want to bring your work with you when you go on vacation, but that’s just what I’m planning to do. I’ve been trying to decide which puzzle I should bring with me by looking at the Stave website. There are just too many great choices! I know I want it to be some kind of beach scene, and I want it to be pretty big since I know everyone is going to want to help put it together, but I just can’t decide.

 

 

I’m torn between Favorite Beach House, Beachside, and Maine Regatta. Which one do you think I should choose? I would love to hear what you think so after taking a look here, visit my PuzzleNuts  page (www.stavepuzzlenuts.com/profile/MadisonPerrin) and let me know which puzzle you think I should bring with me.

Other than puzzling on my vacation, I plan on spending a lot of my time tanning on the beach, hanging with my family, going for a few runs and hopefully getting to spend some quiet time working on my paintings. And while I’m soaking up the sun and relaxing, you know I’ll be thinking about everyone working hard back here at Stave!

-Madi

 


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