puzzles

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Design

Mix and Match Magnetic, Wooden Animal Parts to Invent Bizarre New Creatures

July 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © ESNAF Toys, shared with permission

As interest in analog entertainment for children grows, a new collection from ESNAF Toys prompts kids to piece together giraffes, foxes, and T-rexes from simple, wooden blocks. Each geometric shape is handcrafted and color-coded. To create an anatomically accurate animal or dinosaur, simply match and connect the magnetic joints.

Helmed by architects Bistra and Anastas, ESNAF Toys was born out of the duo’s desire to provide their son with higher-quality entertainment. “Our home became cluttered with baby toys, and we didn’t like it. Looking at all those toys, we realized that very few of them were made with natural materials that would last for decades. Few were what we would call ‘smart’ toys, objects whose use could evolve together with our child,” Bistra says. This dissatisfaction inspired Anastas to utilize old floorboards to create the prototype for the minimal toys that the company offers today.

Check out the video below to dive into ESNAF Toys’ history and see more of its new dinosaur collection, which recently surpassed its fundraising goal on Kickstarter. Until that prehistoric line is released, you can pick up some of the mammalian designs from Etsy or its shop.

 

 

 



Design

Herding Cats: Bring Together Dozens of Moody Felines in This Technicolor Jigsaw Puzzle

July 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

Thanks to Nervous System (previously), herding cats is no longer guaranteed to be a catastrophic failure. The New York-based design studio recently released a 224-piece jigsaw puzzle named after the idiom that’s comprised of 43 different felines as they lounge, stretch out their paws, and jump in the air. Made of birch plywood, the individual pieces form large, technicolor cat by artist Anne Sullivan. Try your hand at rounding up the rambunctious creatures by picking up one of the puzzles from Nervous System’s shop, and watch out for the studio’s future projects on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles Blended Piece-by-Piece into Surreal Montages by Tim Klein

May 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Pig Jaw Suzzle #2,” 11 x 9 inches. All images © Tim Klein, shared with permission

Although there’s seemingly only one way to assemble a jigsaw puzzle, Tim Klein (previously) has diverged from the traditional method of following the photo on the box to assemble unusual arrangements of hybrid animals and everyday objects. The Vancouver, Washington-based artist combines two vintage puzzles that are similar in composition, creating bizarre amalgamations that position a hedgehog on top of a muffin and mask George Washington’s face with verdant greenery and a waterfall.

In a statement, Klein said he often utilizes die-cut pieces from the same manufacturer, which allows him to plug in portions from two different sets. “I take great pleasure in discovering such strange images lying shattered, sometimes for decades, within the cardboard boxes of ordinary mass-produced puzzles,” the artist said.

Although many of Klein’s puzzles are sold out—he notes that he needs more source material to create more—you can follow the humorous combinations on Facebook.

 

Left” “Pupcake,” 10 x 10 inches. Right: “Muffin,” 10 x 10 inches

“Waterfall Grille,” 6 x 18 inches

“King of the Road,” 18 x 24 inches

“Washington,” 18 x 24 inches

“The Other Side,” 18 x 24 inches

“Metamorphosis (Unburdening),” 24 x 18 inches

“Bow Wow,” 15 x 7 inches

“Were-Rabbit,” 11 x 9 inches

 

 



Design

Assemble the Jagged Pieces of This Shattered Puzzle and Fix ‘The Accident’

April 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Yelldesign

While most shattered glass heads straight to the trash, Yelldesign’s panes actually can be reassembled into a single sheet, turning a groan-inducing mistake into a delightfully tedious activity. Comically titled “The Accident,” the acrylic puzzle is comprised of 215 jagged and cracked pieces resembling a broken window. Yelldesign warns, though, that although you don’t have to worry about getting cut or scratched by the pointed edges, assembly isn’t an easy feat.

An animation studio venturing into design, the company also released two other clear puzzles: “The Fish Tank” surrounds an orange guppy in the form of a single piece, while “The Virus” contains a green contagion at its center. These jigsaws come amid an ongoing boom in puzzle sales as people around the world are looking to occupy themselves in quarantine.

To pick up your own humorous puzzle, head to Yelldesign’s site (a heads up that all prices are in AUD). Follow the company on Instagram and Vimeo, too.

 

 



Design Food

Assemble a Meal Bite-by-Bite with This Scrumptious Series of Jigsaw Puzzles

April 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Areaware

A new project from Areaware lets you whip up a big bowl of tonkatsu ramen, a Chicago-style hot dog, and a sprinkle-topped cupcake without making a mess in the kitchen. The design company, which has offices in Brooklyn and Columbus, released nearly 30 tasty main courses, snacks, and party supplies as part of its little puzzle thing collection. Each slice of pepperoni pizza and cherry pie is about 70 pieces, so you might want to pick up a few if you’re a fast cook. And if you’re looking for more modern puzzles to keep you busy during quarantine, check out our Etsy picks.

 

 



Design

Eight Modern Puzzles, Games, and Creative Kits to Keep You Busy and Offline

April 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

If you’re on the internet these days—since you’re reading this, we’ll guess you are—you’ve seen countless lists outlining shows to watch, books to read, and craft projects to undertake to distract yourself for an hour. You probably saw our Skillshare picks, too.

Today, we’re inspired by Jackie Buddie over at Etsy to gather activities that require no internet connection because we know how it goes: you mean to listen to that audiobook you just downloaded, but all of a sudden, you’re back on Twitter devouring bad news and realizing that you need to plant a victory garden. In an effort to distract your hands and your mind, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite games, puzzles, and kits currently available on Etsy. Another perk? You’ll support artists with your purchases, too.

Part toy and part wildlife painting, these brightly colored puzzles from Saint-Paul based artist Megan Bakke are appropriate for small children and beautiful enough to be displayed once complete. Each set is divided into large chunks that form delicately feathered flamingos and emus and detailed portraits of gorillas and llamas.

 

We’re loving these modern dominoes and geometric puzzle pieces from Montreal-based Jonathan Dorthe. Using a series of lined shapes, the wooden puzzle doesn’t have a strict formation and can be arranged to create a rectangle, a house, or any of the other 36 combinations. On the dominoes, each concentric hexagon represents a dot. Finally learn the rules to the game or simply line them up and watch them tumble one-by-one.

 

Illustrated by Barbara Dziadosz, these colorful playing cards feature kings, queens, and jacks decked out in modern garb. A heads up if you’re in the U.S., though: the Germany-based artist says your shipment might be delayed due to the ongoing pandemic.

 

For those looking for a solitary activity, Dziadosz also creates these woodblock stamps designed to shape robots and other geometric creatures, depending on their combination.

 

An actual trip to the lake or woods—not to mention outer space—might not be feasible right now, but these model kits by the Portland-based shop Houha Designs provide a small escape. All you need is glue (the shop recommends Elmer’s) to fix each laser-cut piece to the next to create a fishing boat, fire tower lookout, or circular spaceship.

 

An impressive upcycle by Calgary-based designer Adrian Martinus, this cribbage board is made from old hardwood and repurposed skateboards. Detailed with chevron and stripes, the classic game comes with nine metal pegs that are stored separately.

 

Correctly assembling all 500 pieces of this varicolored, impressionist puzzle is sure to be meditative. Titled “Moonlight Over Euclid,” the abstract landscape jigsaw is based on a painting by Milwaukee-based artist Karen Williams-Brusubardis.

 

 

 

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