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

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Apr 28

Latest and Greatest

On the Horizon
Spring is a time for fresh, new things like lambs, daffodils, and mud, if you’re living in Vermont. It’s also a time for new puzzle designs. In addition to a few new designs from your favorite Stave artists like Molly Delaney, Susan Greenleaf and Cheryl Johnson, we’ve got some great new things cooking up with STEVE! As you probably know, Steve and Martha head South every April to get away from the neverending snow here in Vermont. There must be something about all that sun providing a boost of Vitamin D because we can always count on Steve to come back with loads of new puzzle ideas. Who knew Vitamin D was beneficial for puzzle designing?! We’ve received several emails with a first look into what he’s cooking up and I’m loving it!

First and foremost, Steve’s been working on our new Limited Edition puzzle, Atlantis. We’ve been brain-storming on this off and on for a while now and he’s finally got a handle on where this puzzle is going. Get ready for a hand – painted, multilayer puzzle that will knock your socks off !

We’ve been lamenting the need for more 4-sword Teasers and guess what. Steve’s cooked up a new concept to give you just that! We’ll begin cutting a prototype in the next week or so and get it out to test so we can make sure it holds up to all you Ace Teaser puzzlers.

Steve’s also working on a new 2-way Trick puzzle design. It sounds like it will be a 3 or 4 bolt difficulty level, not as tough as Fred & Ginger or Olivia but tougher than what most of you are probably used to. The theme of the puzzle will probably be tied in to the Mayan theory that the world will end in 2012. Let’s hope we can get it to final art before then!

We’re getting close to the finish line on the new cat themed 2-way Trick puzzle that’s kind of a cousin to the doggie themed, Bark in the Park. I’ve got one more test cut to do and if it passes muster Stave artist, Molly Delaney, will go to paint! It’s darn cute and sure to please all you cat loving Trick puzzlers. Molly is also working on a new beach themed Teaser which will be ready just in time for vacation puzzling this summer.

We have another new Teaser design by Molly debuting this week. Do you remember about a year ago when we showed a couple of cute donkey sketches on PuzzleNuts and asked for help in choosing the theme and title based on the cute little guys? Here it is! PuzzleNuts Kristen and Jennifer had a combined effort in suggesting a barn dancing theme with a title of Donkey Tonk.

A short while ago we showed you a new Teaser puzzle called Your High-ness by Stave crafter and artist, Samara Cary. She’s done it again! You’re getting the first look at A Giant Dilemma.  It got great reviews by our Testers and I think you’re going to love it, too.

Cheryl Johnson, Stave artist living in Maine, is finishing up the first puzzle in the new United States series. Can you guess what state we did first? You’ll get a peek at it in my next newsletter.

More Good Things Coming Your Way
Just arrived in my mailbox… I just received Mouse Pad from Stave artist, Susan Greenleaf. I guess we’ll just have to give you a peek at that one in my next newsletter, too. You guys have a lot to look forward to!!!

Guess this Rebus!
Thanks to all those who sent answers to the rebus game in the last newsletter. You guys are good!! Puzzler C.M. of N.Y. was the first to get the correct answers: Market Share, Harvest Time and Come Sail Away.

Here’s another one for you.

The first person to email me with the correct answer to this rebus will win a prize! Email your guesses to me at


Apr 27

Fun and Games Stave Style!

Me And My Shadow
A couple of years ago, we started hiding a shadow of the Stave clown in your Traditional puzzle images. What’s a clown shadow, you ask? It’s a mini picture of our clown logo hidden in the scene of your Traditional puzzle image. As the term shadow suggests, it’s not a dark shade, but a lighter, harder to find color. How do you know if you have a hidden shadow clown in your puzzle? Look inside the lid of the box! If we’ve hidden a shadow clown in your puzzle there will be a label in there with a short description and example of what you’re looking for.

Have You Spotted Him?
We’ve gotten some great feedback about the shadow clown game and it seems most find it pretty challenging and lots of fun. There have been a few puzzlers who need some help (a lot of help!) and a few who find him right away, but for the most part, it’s a rewarding search mission.

What’d You Do That For?
Are you wondering why we go to the trouble of hiding that little guy in your puzzle? Because we love to puzzle you!

Every Traditional Stave puzzle is loaded with puzzlement, beyond the actual working of the puzzle pieces themselves. We want you to have something to look forward to even after you’ve fit all the pieces together. How do we do that? We craft things like Interacting and Enlarged silhouettes into the puzzle.


For those of you who may be into the Teaser and Trick puzzles, Interacting silhouettes are two or more silhouettes that touch each other. It could be a man pushing a wheelbarrow or a bunny nibbling on a carrot. An Enlarged Silhouette is like having a mini puzzle within your puzzle. It’s a silhouette that’s been enlarged and cut into three or more pieces. Oftentimes you won’t discover an Enlarged silhouette until your puzzle is completed. The pieces look just like regular puzzle pieces when they’re on the puzzle  table but as you work your puzzle the Enlarged Silhouette will begin to appear.

Some Traditional puzzles will have a Rebus game, too. A rebus is tough to pull off in the smaller puzzles but a Traditional puzzle with 250 pieces or more will usually contain a rebus.

A rebus is a word game where a word or saying is made by using shapes. A rebus is always contained in a wavy lined box with the silhouette of the Clown’s feet  touching the box. The silhouette shapes within that box are what are used to create your rebus. If you have the shapes above within your rebus box, what does it say?

Nice job! I’ve shown several rebuses below. The first one to email me with the correct answers will win a prize!

Keep The Puzzlement Coming!

Here are some of the fun Rebuses that were cut into some puzzles just this week. The first person to email me with the correct answers to these rebuses will win a prize! Email your guesses to me at

© Stave Puzzles, Inc., Norwich, Vermont. Stave Puzzles, Inc. owns the copyrights in the puzzle designs, Silhouette designs, and Custom Edge designs of the puzzles appearing on this website. Trick, Monkey Fist, Crazy Claw, Teaser, Twister, Tumbler, TroubleMaker, the Clown and Stave are trademarks of Stave Puzzles, Inc.


Apr 27

Nowhere Else

Behind The Scenes
At Stave I am continuously amazed at the loyalty of our puzzlers. Not only do they show their love of puzzling and the handcrafted art by puzzling with Stave, they don’t hesitate to tell us, either.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorite companies but do I send them pictures and emails telling them how much I love them? No! Luckily for us, that’s just what our puzzlers do.

Fan Mail
Many of you have probably spoken to Tammy when you’ve called Stave to order a puzzle. If you have, you know she’s always upbeat and fun. She’s so good at her job and loves what she does so it’s no wonder she has quite a fan base.

Here’s a snippet of an email Tammy received from one of her favorite puzzlers, Karen. She and her sister have been Stave puzzlers since 2005 and often attend our puzzle parties at Blackberry Farm. They were also guests at our 35th Anniversary party last year. “Tammy, You are seriously on top of things! Didn’t expect to hear from you for several days/week. I’m very impressed.” Blah blah blah regarding prize points. “BTW, (By the way, for those of you who don’t know the lingo) You and Dennis (Tammy’s husband) SHOULD consider a trip beyond New England.” She then goes on to suggest several times frames for Tammy to come visit. She also said a visit from Tammy would be enough to get her sister to travel from Singapore for the occasion. Is that the coolest or what?! Have you ever invited your order taker from L.L. Bean to come visit? Only at Stave!

Another Loyal Follower

We just received this email from a puzzler this morning.
“I just want to tell you I think this company is awesome. I read an article in Games Magazine many years ago about Stave Puzzles. I don’t honestly remember if it was about Steve, but I do remember the article and I thought, “Wow! This is what I want to do with the rest of my life!” That article made me feel like life was full of possibilities. I still have it somewhere. Then a few years ago, I was getting ready for church and saw there was going to be a clip on a person that creates jigsaw puzzles on CBS Sunday Morning. I knew right away it was going to be about Stave Puzzles and decided I wasn’t going to make it to church that morning. I got that same happy, optimistic glow again while watching it. I never got anywhere with my dream of making puzzles, but I’m not dead yet. I’m really happy to know people are out there creating these things for us to enjoy and enjoying themselves in the process.
P.S. This is my first ever fan letter. I just wanted to share that those articles have always stuck with me.”

Let me just say, this made our day! — Jennifer

we LOVE to hear from you!

Give Tammy something to talk about!



Let me know what you want to read about. Do you have questions, ideas, suggestions? Email me

Don’t forget to check out Steve’s whacky photo contest. You might win a $25 gift certificate. Go to to place your guess. You could be our next winner.


Apr 27

You Made Your Bed

The Search

Finding a puzzle cutter is never easy. Just think of it. How many people have you met who know how to cut a wooden jigsaw puzzle? It’s like searching for hen’s teeth! What do we look for when we’re searching for someone to join our crew? Someone who is crafty and clever, eager to learn with the highest standards for themselves and their work. They’ve got to have good hand/eye coordination and manual dexterity but most of all, they have to love working with their hands.

A Real Find

In addition to finding fabulous puzzle cutters we also work with local (or not so local!) artists to create Stave’s Teaser and Trick puzzle designs. And like finding a puzzle cutter, it’s tough to find an artist who can design a puzzle. It’s very different from painting a landscape. You’ve got to figure out how thick or thin you can make a piece. You need to learn how to get all those Teaser pieces to grip each other but not fit solidly like a Traditional puzzle would. After all, that would make it easy, now wouldn’t it?! Needless to say, it’s a long training process.

So when we find a great puzzle cutter who can design puzzles, too, it’s like hitting the jackpot! Dianna and Wanita are puzzle cutters who have created several Stave designs, and now we have Samara. Samara has been cutting puzzles for almost two years now and she surprised us last year with a great idea for a new Teaser puzzle. She’s been working on several Teaser designs I think you’re going to love but here’s a peek at her first completed design, a puzzle based on the story of The Princess and the Pea. We’re calling it Your High-ness and it’s a hoot! Trying to fit those brightly colored pillows and blankets into the bed frame are going to keep you from getting any shut eye, for sure.

We’ve Got Designs For You

In addition to Your High-ness, Samara has several more designs in the works. Since I’m feeling generous today I’m going to give you a little inside information so you’ll know what to be on the look- out for. The design I can’t wait to see is a Teaser puzzle based on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s a little different than our other Teasers, with a clever edge design I think you’ll love.

Samara has a couple other designs in the works that just went through the Testing phase of the design process. They received great reviews so we’ll be working to get those out to you soon. Keep your eye out for another fairy tale themed puzzle and another puzzle that will appeal to your own artistic side.


Stave’s Clever Creations








We’ve been busy here at the Stave Puzzle workshop, crafting beautiful puzzles to delight and challenge you. Take a look at what your fellow puzzlers have been working on. Maybe you’ll see your puzzle shown here!

I’m still waiting to hear your stories about how you got started puzzling. And don’t forget to share where and how you puzzle. In your kitchen or the
dining room? Do you sort by color and edge pieces? Email me

Don’t forget to check out Steve’s whacky photo contest. You might win a $25 gift certificate! Go to to place your guess. You could be our next winner.


Feb 15

Where do you do it?


Set The Scene

I’m always interested in hearing where and how people puzzle. My husband, Rick, has created a nice little spot in our home that we refer to as the Library/Puzzle room. Rick spent some time working at a used book store in his earlier years so he has quite a collection of books. He’s also a Puzzle Nut…Tavern puzzles, Manipulative puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles, old and new. If you’re looking for something to occupy your mind, this is the room to be in. Needless to say, we usually have a puzzle going on the table. More often than not, it’s a Stave, but sometimes Rick brings out one of his old Tuco Puzzles. (I don’t work those. The push-fit style of puzzling drives me crazy!) And as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a prerequisite that any family gathering at my house must include puzzling.

Who Got You Hooked?

My mom and dad often had a cardboard (gasp!) puzzle going on a table, so I feel it has always been a part of my life. What about you? Do you have a grandmother who brought out a puzzle when the family came to visit? Was it your spouse who introduced you to puzzling or is it something you have always been drawn to?

What’s In It For Me

One of the things I enjoy most about working a puzzle is the fact that you can see your progress as you go along. I’ve heard some people say they like making order out of chaos. Others like the fact that it can bring the family together, several generations working side by side. What is it you get out of puzzling?

Share Your Stories

So tell me about your puzzling life. Do you puzzle on a cookie sheet or do you use a special tray or table? Do you have a designated space in your home or do you puzzle wherever you happen to be? How about favorite puzzling times? Early mornings when no one is up or late at night with a glass of wine? Puzzlers are such a unique group of people and I know everyone would love to hear from folks who are just as puzzling as they are.

Set the scene and I’ll share your pictures and stories with everyone. Email me.



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© 2009 Stave Puzzles, Inc., Norwich, Vermont. Stave Puzzles, Inc. owns the copyrights in the puzzle designs, Silhouette designs, and Custom Edge designs of the puzzles appearing on this web site. Trick, Monkey Fist, Crazy Claw, Teaser, Twister, Tumbler, TroubleMaker, the Clown and Stave are trademarks of Stave Puzzles, Inc.