Who remembers the heady days of the adult colouring book trend? (Just to be clear, that’s colouring books aimed at adults rather than x-rated colouring material – although colouring books of that nature do exist too…if you want to colour in swear words or kama sutra positions then you can!). There were times in 2015 and 2016 when adult colouring books dominated more than HALF of the top ten bestselling books lists. Felt tips were suddenly very cool. And if you weren’t spending your evenings keeping between the lines of a secret garden/New York City skyscraper/Hogwarts then were you even relaxing at all?
I never liked colouring as a child, it struck me as an incredibly boring pastime, so naturally I wasn’t interested in having another go in my late twenties. But I understood the appeal of it. Anything that’s “offline”, relaxing and reminiscent of childhood is going to find a captive audience. After all, it was for those exact reasons that I recently found myself on Amazon ordering a jigsaw puzzle.
Now I don’t think jigsaws are going to become the next big thing the way that colouring books did; you can’t do a jigsaw on the train to work and they require more than a fair bit of patience. But having just completed my first 1000 piecer, I’ve found myself a bit of a puzzle convert.
I wasn’t sure whether to choose a 500 piece or 1000 piece puzzle for my first “adult attempt”. I wanted it to be a challenge, but I didn’t want to give up half way through and have a dining table covered in half finished corners for the next eight months. A lot of the puzzle designs I liked came in both 500 and 1000 piece variations but it was an anonymous Amazon reviewer who swayed me to go big: “You could buy the 500 piece version, but if it’s not irritatingly hard then what’s the point?”. Quite! And I do prefer my relaxation to come with a heavy dose of intense frustration, wherever possible.
It took me a long while to actually start the puzzle after it arrived, I knew it was going to take over the lounge (not to mention MY WHOLE LIFE) and so I waited til the optimum Sunday to crack open the box and look for those elusive edges.
The first thing I noticed on emptying the box across the table was that 1000 pieces is quite a lot. Who would have guessed that hundreds upon hundreds of jigsaw pieces would amount to “a fair few”? Not me, evidently. I tried not to have a low level panic attack as the pieces spread out before me. This was relaxation, guys! A spa day for the mind!
I finally completed the outer edge and, slowly but surely, the rest of the puzzle took shape over the next few days and weeks.
Top tip! If you have two tables in fairly close proximity, I certainly found it easier at first to make the edges on one table and keep all the loose pieces on another.
As a card-carrying Parrot Obsessive, I enjoyed putting together the bird sections the most. Their beaks! Their wings! THEIR COLOURFUL PLUMES! And with no less than thirty-one birds to assemble, this was a fun part of the puzzle to prioritise. Recognising the species and knowing the colours helped, as I could get on with this part without constantly referring to the box (yes I am as cool as I sound) plus there was just the constant satisfaction of finishing each bird…even if the rest of the puzzle seemed an impossible beast.
What I hadn’t appreciated when choosing this design, was that there are huge sections to this puzzle which can at times feel exactly the same – brown leaves, splashing waterfalls, intertwined branches. At one point I was convinced I had 400 identical green/brown pieces scattered across my dining table and that I may as well have bought one of those tortuous baked bean puzzles (WHO DOES THOSE?!), but with persistence, patience and a LOT of Radio 2…every empty space eventually became smaller and smaller. It was a glorious feeling.
The final completion of the puzzle was more satisfying than I could have expected, even if I did know that my handiwork was about to be smashed up and stuffed back into the box so that our table could become functional again. I was proud of my puzzle. I took lots of photos. There was a genuine sense of achievement and, more than anything, I wanted another puzzle to start.
I know jigsaws won’t become “the new colouring”, they require far more time, space and patience to complete and they cost a bit more (although not much more) too. But if you haven’t jigsawed since you were a wee one then I’d definitely recommend having another go. They ARE relaxing, in their own all-consuming maddening way, and I’m sure a finished puzzle is more rewarding than a well-coloured landscape.
This specific puzzle, if you’re keen, is this one by Gibsons. I bought it for £11.89 with free delivery. I was really happy with the quality and loved the design.
I certainly didn’t expect to be entering my thirties with a newfound love for jigsaws, but here we are. I am officially a puzzler.
May all your edges be quickly located…and if in doubt, always check the bottom of your socks.