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Winter Puzzling 2023 – Last Piece

Continued from: Winter Puzzling 2023 – First Piece

If you zoom in on the paper image of the puzzle, you can see many colored butterflies with a consistent beige background.  As I sorted the pieces, I first divided them into drawers of pieces that were mostly butterfly and mostly background while segregating the edge pieces.  At the time, I was using a portion of my worktable for other purposes and so when I ran out of room in my four drawers, I simply piled the remaining pieces up on the puzzle table.

The bottom of the puzzle was easily recognizable with the scientific names for the butterflies, so I started there.

But once I had completed the bottom, I realized that the edges, with a majority of them just of the beige background, would be very difficult to put together since it would require a time-consuming one-for-one trial and error approach.  This I in fact confirmed by failing to assemble the most easily recognized portion at the top of the puzzle.

So, deviating from my normal approach of building the puzzle frame first, I decided to pick a butterfly and try to work on that.  Since there were not very many yellow butterflies, I thought that also would be a good starting point.  I chose the one butterfly that was almost all yellow in the top left corner.

Pulling out the similar yellow pieces, it came together fairly easily with the added bonus that it allowed me to add the edge pieces as well since two of the three touch points were defined by the butterfly image.

Fresh from this success, I decided to work on all the other butterflies that were at least half yellow and this same strategy worked well also.

At this point, it seemed appropriate to move the partially completed yellow butterflies to their correct location on the puzzle to free up my workspace to work on the next colored butterflies.

With the yellow butterflies mostly complete, I began to pick other uniquely colored butterflies to work on.  I would scour the trays looking for the most likely pieces and then assemble each on my workspace just to the right of the puzzle table.  Since some of the pieces overlapped two butterflies, I next worked on the butterfly adjacent to the one just assembled and once I had two or three together, I would transfer them to the puzzle adding in the edge pieces with the transfer.  I continued this approach until I had mostly assembled and transferred all 31 butterflies.

I was then left with about 150 black or white or non-descript pieces left to fill in.

Progressively, mostly with a trial-and-error approach, I added these additional pieces until the puzzle was complete.

For my last puzzle of the season, I chose to work what I thought would be my favorite puzzle to assemble.  I had saved this one for last because I often leave my last puzzle out until spring officially arrives serving as a reminder of the fun I had over the winter. This was a puzzle my brother gave me for my birthday last year that he found at a cool car museum in Florida—a collage of vintage travel posters with a preponderance of car images.

Since this puzzle was also portrait oriented rather than landscape oriented, I kept my puzzle table the same way as the last puzzle.  Without any major color theme, I sorted the pieces into my four drawers, culling out the edge pieces as usual.  I was able to get almost 120 pieces in each drawer which meant my four drawers would hold almost half the puzzle.  I also was able to get about 130 pieces in the box bottom.  As before, the extra pieces I just put in the middle of the puzzle knowing I would move them into a drawer as I advanced on assembling the puzzle.

I began to assemble the frame since it would anchor each of the images and in spite of touching and carefully sorting each piece, I was still five edge pieces short.  Since I had meticulously organized the pieces in the drawers and box bottom, I was able to easily scour these with my eyes and after two sweeps, I found all but one.   That one edge piece was still hiding somewhere.

As I did with the butterfly puzzle, I decided to assemble each poster to the right of my puzzle table and once I had them fairly assembled, transfer them to their correct location.  For no particular reason, I decided to start at the bottom right of the puzzle and then work my way across to the left and then up (sort of like reading a book page backwards).  But as seen by the many empty spots in the photo below, I only met with limited success.

But I forged ahead working on each next image and eventually had fairly good success on some images and maybe a bit less on others.  Once I reached the top, I had at least made a good effort on the 25 posters.  Stepping back, I could see I had a nice patchwork but with numerous holes left to fill.  And interestingly, that last edge piece was still missing (the eighth piece down from the top left).

I organized the remaining 200 pieces into just three trays and then began the process of filling in the holes, one piece at a time.  Once I had gotten down to about 125 pieces, I finally discovered the last remaining edge piece.  Who knows how many times I might have touched it without realizing it was an edge piece?

After reducing the pieces down to about 75, I found that these few were so non-descript they could have gone in many places.  So, I did what I often do when presented with this challenge, I sorted them into groups by shape.  This way I could look at a gap in the puzzle and with at least two touch points defined by either an “in-y” or an “out-y,” it would narrow down my possibilities.

And with this organization, my wife and I finished off the puzzle in no time on the very last day of January just as sleet was pelting down outside following a night of freezing rain (which gave us both a “winter holiday” to work on it).

Well, I hope you enjoyed hearing about my winter puzzling season this year as much as my family and I enjoyed working on them.  Hopefully those of you out there that are also winter puzzlers enjoyed the season and had fun too!

Because when it’s cold and wintry outside, what is better than to be inside where it’s warm and feel the satisfaction of snapping piece after piece into a puzzle as you watch the image slowly appear.

2 thoughts on “Winter Puzzling 2023 – Last Piece Leave a comment

  1. David, I did enjoy reading about your winter puzzles. And it has put me in the mood to put together a puzzle. At this point, I limit myself to 300 pieces. Not your level, I know, but perhaps I will advance should I ever have a puzzle box with drawers. I do like the idea of this winter activity. We are traveling now, but I suspect when I get home, it will be puzzle time. Your post reminds me of the need to be flexible with strategy – as the butterfly puzzle demonstrated. Great job on your puzzles!

    • Thanks Betty, I’m glad my post has gotten you into the puzzling mood. I don’t recall how I got started doing 1,000 piece puzzles but I like them as they give me more hours of pleasure. Safe travels and I hope you have fun on your next puzzle!

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