How to do a jigsaw

From early childhood I’ve loved doing jigsaws. And despite my difficulties seeing colours, it has always been something I’m fairly good at. So imagine my joy when I got a birthday present of this little beauty showing the view from Arisaig towards Eigg and Rhum
With time hanging heavy due to long school holidays and a self-inflicted calf muscle injury preventing running and football I wasted no time getting started. And here is my guide how to complete a jigsaw. Firstly you have to lay out all the pieces face up:
At this early stage you’re allowed to look at the box to ascertain the dimensions (hence the yellow measuring tape) You need to know how much space to leave in the middle of the laid out pieces.
As you lay out the pieces the outside pieces go into the middle space ready to be assembled first. With a new puzzle some pieces are already joined together and I tend to regard these as windfalls rather than take them apart and separate them. I know this may offend the purists but it is my regular practice! I do try and avoid looking at the picture too much once I start however.
The composition of the outside of a jigsaw is usually not too taxing but in this case the blue sky was quite troublesome for me and when I finished it, I knew that several pieces were wrong even though they fitted after a fashion. That issue can always be resolved later.
This jigsaw is 1000 pieces and my regular policy is simple. Always start with the easiest bit. In this case the sky looked to be the hardest part, closely followed by the foreground comprising heather, rhododendrons and rocks. The only weak point seemed to be the sand, where the sea joined the sand and where the trees and mountains joined the sky. So I selected all the pieces that I thought fitted those categories and put them in the middle.
It is then a case of putting together what you can.
I was pleased with my progress by the end of day one even if it was manifestly clear that I had done all the easy bits :
On the basis that the foreground was slightly easier than the sky I knew I had to tackle it next. And here I did something unusual. I reckoned that there were too many foreground pieces to put in the middle without confusing the issue so I set about the laborious task of shifting the foreground pieces to the foot of the puzzle and the blue sky pieces to the top. This is not ideal but the complexity of this jigsaw seemed to justify the time devolved to the task. Eventually it was completed.
And it paid off when I managed to do most of the rocks fairly quickly.
I kept going and although progress slowed I was still seeing things taking shape.
I wasn’t unhappy with my progress at the end of day 2.
It didn’t take too long to complete the foreground on day 3 and I could turn my attention to the wretched expanse of blue sky. Despite spending a couple of hours on it, this was as far as I got by the end of day 3.
The sky continued to be a nightmare and considerable patience was required.
Matters were not helped by the fact that the blue outside pieces were clearly wrong in several places.
Taking regular breaks seemed to help and eventually the reducing number of options made life easier and I could canter to the finish.
I always leave the last piece for my wife to do, complaining plaintively that I am stuck and could she help. I lay it round the wrong way so that she gets it wrong first time. But she does get it next time and here is the completed puzzle.
I reckon I spent at least a couple of hours each day on it so I’m clearly slowing down in my old age. But there is a certain satisfaction gained from completing the task!


4 thoughts on “How to do a jigsaw

  1. Brilliant post, David! I really enjoyed watching this in progress! It’s ages since I did a jigsaw and I remember how absorbing they are. I certainly don’t have your organised attitude, though. And I had to laugh about the last bit! 🙂

  2. It’s been many years since I’ve done one also. When I was a kid we would often start one on a rainy weekend day and it would sit on the table for a few days as family members took their turn at the table when they were bord.
    Probably better family fun than watching TV.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I’m very possessive about my jigsaws and only grudgingly accept help from others. The worst crime of all is when a “helper” gets a wrong bit and forces it in or leaves it in when it is wrong.

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