Jigsaw Puzzle

by Andy Slater

This strikes me as a great gift idea, be it a father and son project as an unusual picture for mum to hang on the wall, as a gift for a child (with the picture drawn by an adult), or even as a gift from one child to another. Of course the actually cutting shown here is probably a job for an adult however a simple arrangement of tiles without pegs is probably within the scope of most children.

Either way, the first step is to paint the picture and for this purpose we used acrylic paints. Be warned that some types of paints may affect the foam and or create problems at the cutting stage. Do a test on a piece of scrap to make sure what you plan to use will work.

Another possible issue with painting is that the surface of polystyrol is very smooth and really needs to be keyed. A quick rub with fine sandpaper will do the trick.

Having done the painting, the polystyrol is flipped over and divided into squares. These do not need to be accurate and the lines can be drawn freehand however my preference was to draw a grid with a ruler and then draw wavy lines using these as a guide. If you use a water based felt tipped pen (the non-permanent kind) then you can erase the lines you don't need with a damp tissue.

To create the pegs I drew circles, offset from the lines, and then connected them to the lines using smaller circles. None of this needs to be precise however I drew around a button for the larger circles and around the end of a pen cap for the smaller arcs. Then I used a damp tissue to erase the lines I didn't need.

Now comes the scary part: cutting it out.

Despite what I just said, there's no need to be afraid because although it's true that you only get one shot at this, you can't go too far wrong IF you:

1. Do a couple of practice runs on scraps so you get a feel for it before you get going on your real picture.

2. Don't try to cut the pieces one at a time. Cut the puzzle into strips (shortest lengths) and then cut those strips into individual pieces.

3. Treat the lines as GUIDELINES. If you wander off track go with it and endeavour to get back on track in a gentle, flowing manner. Do that and it will end up looking like that's where you intended to cut all along. As you can see from my finished piece, most of the pegs are nothing like the circles I drew on the back but it doesn't matter.

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