Now, I like a jigsaw but I usually tackle one a year, in a cottage we visit by the sea, taking up the challenge to beat 1000 tiny pieces within the week’s holiday. Apart from that I don’t usually get the chance so I was excited when Wembley Dreams by Ravensburger arrived. While I’m not a fan of commercial football but I’m a big fan of children with jumper-goal-posts playing in the park, which is exactly what this delightful picture is. The painting, by Trevor Mitchell, is classed as nostalgic but apart from the style of the clothes, cars, pram and old leather football you could easily enjoy this as a summer weekend today.
I scanned the image mentally trying to decipher how hard it was really going to be. It’s a painted image and there’s a good range of colours, and distinct areas, the footballers have individual kits and each flower bed is a different style colours so I knew that’d help. However, I also knew that a 1cm square piece of hand-painting was likely to look quite abstract and cause a challenge.
The jigsaw itself is 70x50cm so I roughly measured up a few tables in the house and decided the dining table was the only place for it. While our dining table is used all the time for meals, work, homework, painting etc I was glad to recall a trick from my childhood … to put the tablecloth over the jigsaw when necessary. Hardcore jigsaw fans will probably own a portapuzzle or a jigroll meaning you can pack your jigsaw away as you work on it.
After carefully sliding my nail through the cellophane I open the lid and saw the reality of 1000 tiny pieces. Daunted but excited I began separating the straight edges, which is my usual was of starting a jigsaw. People do it in different ways, my children always start in the middle, where they can piece together recognisable objects, but I find having a frame helpful. While there were different colours around the edge much of the piecing together was simply done by shape of the pieces. One of the things I really appreciated about this jigsaw were the varying and very well cut shapes, and the simple fact that you always knew if a connection was right or wrong. It’s the quality you’d expect from Ravensburger. There’s nothing worse (except perhaps a missing piece) than being unsure if the fit is right. I also appreciated the printed image of the jigsaw, so as well as the image on the box there’s something to refer to as you tackle it.
I was planning to estimate the amount of time the jigsaw took, but it became an activity I dipped in and out of, and my family watched and put a few pieces in now and then. I found myself pondering whether this jigsaw was friend or foe as at times the pretty flowers and happy faces unsympathetically taunted me. The challenge was both a frustration and fun. Occasionally I walked away and shortly after when I was drawn back to it the ‘pieces all seemed to fall into place’ so to speak. While with most of the individual pieces I could scan the image to find where they went the grass was perhaps the hardest challenge and, although there was light and shade to work with I did resort to looking for specific shaped pieces rather than using the colours at some stages. There were a couple of pieces I couldn’t place in the image and, of course, they turned out to be something completely different to what I expected them to be!
Sometimes I wonder what it is that draws us to puzzles. I’m not a fan of fiddling with coffee-table-puzzles, but jigsaws are different. In this case it created a large and beautiful picture, and a massive sense of achievement! So much so that I can’t bear to take it apart. My children want to glue it together but that’s always seemed wrong to me, it defies the point, it’s like gluing lego together, defying the essence of what it is. So for now … it’s still under the table cloth!