The team at Melbourne animation studio Yelldesign has started producing puzzles.

You may recall the studio’s colourful 2016 stop-motion video series Papermeals, which turned home-cooking videos into an origami-esque art form.

Its latest product – a series of tricky puzzles made out of transparent acrylic – is a fun alternative to the traditional 1000-piece ordeal you may have been subjecting yourself to in recent weeks. (Each to their own puzzle, though).

“During this Covid-19 situation we needed to look around and see what other ways we can keep our guys employed and keep the doors open,” says Matt Willis, who founded the Fitzroy-based company in 2013.

“We have a laser cutter in the studio that we use for a lot of our animation work and we’ve always been able to cut acrylic. We wanted something that suited the material, so we decided to have a go at making acrylic puzzles.”

The result is three jigsaw puzzles, each requiring a different level of skill (or perseverance).

The Virus ($58), a circular 91-piece puzzle with a single, fluro-green puzzle-piece nucleus, is the entry level. (But say goodbye to the anchor of the corner piece.) Then there’s The Fish Tank ($78), a deceptively diabolical 160-piece puzzle with a single orange fish.

The Accident ($98) is the largest, most challenging puzzle, with 215 unique, completely transparent pieces with uneven edges in a range of sizes. When assembled, it looks like a shattered glass window.

The design and production process is pretty efficient, says Willis, but the testing – including attempts at the puzzles by people with various skill levels – can take up to five weeks. “You want people to be challenged – but for it to be an enjoyable challenge,” he says.

More designs are on the way (including smaller puzzles to complete over a cup of tea), but the first three have already been a hit. The studio has shipped more than 500 locally made puzzles across Australia and the US.

“We’ve got a couple of other designs that we’re finishing at the moment, which will be playing on that same glass look,” says Willis. “[The smaller puzzles] will still be hard, but only hard for a small period of time.

“We’ve been cutting non-stop for the last three weeks.”

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