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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Inventive jigsaw puzzles abound at NY NOW

Learning Drive Editions

“1000 Colours Wheel" at NY NOW

There were jigsaw puzzles galore on display this week at the summer NY NOW home/lifestyle/gift market trade show at New York’s Javits Center.

Brooklyn’s Areaware was actually up for NY NOW’s Best New Product Award for its Little Puzzle Thing line of seven food puzzles--“Eggplant,“ “Papaya,“ “Tonkotsu Ramen,“ “Chicago Hot Dog,“ “Broccoli,“ “Birthday Cake“ and “New York Slice“--each approximately 8 x 8-inches. The miniature puzzles can be completed in 20 minutes or less, and are limited edition.

Other miniature puzzles could be seen over at Zen Art & Design’s exhibition booth, which was fully stocked with the Northampton, Massachusetts company’s handcrafted wooden jigsaw puzzles designed to fit the meditative aspect, in puzzle images and the puzzling pastime itself, of their Zen Puzzles brand name.

Their “Teaser“ puzzles have approximately 50 pieces, with the Small size averaging 125, Medium having 200, and Large, 300.

The images range from colorful animals (“Blue Iguana”) and plants (“Pink Rose”) to serene landscapes (“Connecticut River”) and still lifes (“Ship, Denmark”), with each puzzle containing, depending on size, one or more “figurals,” or "whimsies"--pieces in the shape of objects represented in the images, such as bee-shaped pieces in the “Honeybees” puzzles.

To highlight the figurals, some of the puzzles were placed in black trays with the figurals removed and set off to the side, their outlines easy to see against the trays' black background. These trays are provided to retailers to encourage in-store interaction, with the company hoping to bring such high-quality items to any store--garden centers, furniture dealers--that have gift sections, thereby gaining a wider audience than traditional jigsaw puzzle vendors.

Meanwhile, illustrators’ agency Jacky Winter, based in Melbourne, Australia, had one of its Clemens Habicht Colour Puzzles, the circular thousand-piece “1000 Colours Wheel,“ in various stages of completion on the floor of its Lamington Drive Editions booth. Lamington Drive--the name of their in-house gallery-- publishes both the Habicht puzzles line and the Jacky Winter Signature Editions of puzzles designed by Marc Martin, Kate Banazi an Karan Singh--all illustrators repped through Jacky Winter.

Each piece in the Habicht Colour Puzzles is a different color, such that the puzzler must rely on “color intuition” to put it together. In the case of “1000 Colours Wheel,“ the colors are arranged such that those with the greatest saturation are at the edge, with those moving toward the center lessening in saturation to near washout. Areaware, incidentally, also has a small Gradient Puzzle line similar in color design.

Finally, London’s Laurence King Publishing had the first two jigsaw puzzles in an art history series--“The Story of Impressionism“ and “The Dream of Surrealism“--both featuring clever, specially commissioned illustrations depicting key moments in the movements. In the “Impressionism“ puzzle, then, Edgar Degas can be seen sketching the ballerinas of the Paris Opera, while Salvador Dali’s disembodied mustache turns up in “Surrealism.“

Laurence King Publishing

Laurence King's art history puzzles



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