|(Click to Enlarge)|
When I reviewed the Zoo Jigsaw several weeks ago, I became an absolute fan of Picture Frame Puzzles. These are quite unique themed packing puzzles, always with a high degree of difficulty, but with a very original design. On my most recent Puzzle Crafthouse order, I had to include two of these great puzzles - The Wine Lovers Puzzle is one of them.
Visually stunning and with a great quality, the pieces are made from maple, giving a lighter tone and at the same time creating a nice contrast with the 7" x 7" (about 18cm) dark frame, which also looks great with the laser engraved lettering.
The puzzle has ten pieces, each of them perfectly representing an object related to wine. From the vines to the wine bottles, or even the bunch of grapes, they all have to be packed in the frame. In order to do that, you'll need to make the most out of the space you got. The interesting part is that the total area of the pieces combined is way less than the frame area. When solved, there's still plenty of "wasted space" visible. The trick then, is to waste the less space you can and find the best possible matches between the pieces. Sounds simple, but it's actually rather tricky.
The pieces are reversible, meaning that both of their sides can be used. However, it's quite noticeable that one of the sides has its cut lines thicker than the other. After solving the puzzle, I can give you a hint: you don't need to use the thinner cuts' side. You can see the differences in the photos below.
(Click to Enlarge) - Cut Lines Seen from Both Sides
Solving the puzzle was much, much harder than I was expecting. Puzzle Crafthouse rates it as a 3+ (5+ is the maximum), so I thought the solving time would be around 30 minutes to 1 hour. After three separate sessions in the span of about a month and a total of approximately 3 hours, the puzzle was finally solved. In the photo below, you can see the puzzle almost solved, but with only the tiny corkscrew left. This was accomplished shortly before I found the actual solution, which took only a few modifications in the placement of the pieces. If you'd like to take a look at the solved puzzle, click this link, but only if you don't want to solve it on your own. Be careful though, as the picture on Puzzle Crafthouse's page has the solved puzzle as well.
(Click to Enlarge) - Not the Actual Solution
To me, the hardest part of the puzzle was finding those particular features in the pieces that could be combined with others to save space. These features are very subtle and you need to thoroughly observe two pieces at a time to find a common characteristic. There are also a few obvious pieces that can be placed at the edges of the frame, but you need to find the correct orientation. Needless to say, you won't be solving this one in just a few minutes, so be prepared to spend a while with it.
While I'm not a wine lover, it doesn't mean I didn't like this puzzle any less. On the contrary, I did enjoy very much solving it. It did get frustrating at times when I felt I was so close, only to have a darn piece that wouldn't fit anywhere, no matter how I tried. Nonetheless, you'll have your money's worth, because it's one of those puzzles that you can always try again after a while and still have a great time.
Availability: The Wine Lovers Puzzle is available exclusively at Puzzle Crafthouse for $25 USD. You can choose other types of wood, if you want, both for the pieces and the frame. For an extra fee, you can also engrave your puzzle with custom text - Perfect gift for a wine lover...