Tough Play

795 pieces

This puzzle was commissioned by Paul Isaacs, who is an artist himself (see He let me choose the print so that he would be completely surprised. I picked this print (not one of his) because of the colors, the action scene, and the washed-out background, which gave me the opportunity to be creative with the edge.

Paul wanted his initials (“PMI”) cut into the puzzle. I didn’t want to cut each letter “P”, “M”, and “I” as actual pieces, because he knew he had requested his initials and would therefore immediately know what the letter pieces were for. So, instead, I made the letters very thick so I could cut each letter into more than one piece, and I dropped out the area around the letters. The result (seen in the lower-left area of the puzzle) was that he did not realize until the later stages of assembling the puzzle how I had worked his initials into the puzzle. I cut some other figure pieces that he specifically requested, but they can’t be easily seen in this picture.

Scroll down the page for a close-up of the puzzle’s best feature.

One of the reasons I prefer to cut large puzzles is that I like to use “sliver dropouts” to create a larger figure out of negative space. For a more detailed description of sliver dropouts, see my Purple Petunias puzzle. I am particularly proud of the horse profile shown below; the gentle curves of the horse’s head and mane are similar to the curves of the edge pieces, further confusing the assembler by making him think some of these pieces are edge pieces.

In Paul’s own words:

“It was a beautiful surprise, really fun to do. Challenging but fun, I really liked the shape of the puzzle outline, and the dropout shape was a particularly good treat. Also, the shapes of the pieces was unusual which made it a particularly unique experience.”