From childhood beach holidays to rainy share-house weekends, puzzles have always been there – but it seems like this is their time to shine. Amid the chaos of Covid-19, the safest thing for us to do right now is stay at home, and there’s no better distraction than reconstructing an illustration or photo that’s been cut into hundreds or thousands of pieces. Right? Here are a few of our favourites.
Melbourne company Okay Lady started making puzzles for women, by women, to remind us that taking time for ourselves in this sprint we call life is, well, okay. And now we have that downtime whether we want it or not, these puzzles couldn’t be more perfect. Each one is designed by a team of women, including two Sydney-based artists, illustrator Alice Lindstrom and letterer Jess Cruickshank. Our pick is the 400-piece She Chills, a digitally edited watercolour by artist Jessica Meyrick that comes in a display-worthy cylinder. And this is a nice service: if you’ve lost a piece, they’ll replace it.
Nicola Caras was an avid but frustrated puzzler, only able to find jigsaws with daggy images of grazing horses or flowers in a paddock. “I was even doing Disney ones,” she tells Broadsheet. “Back then I would’ve killed for a cool one by an artist I liked.” That’s why she started Journey of Something with friend Lauren Seeman. The Melbourne duo recruited the help of artists and photographers to create 1000-piece puzzles you’d want to put in a frame once you’re done. The most popular is an illustration by Melbourne artist Billie Morris that features Kim, Kendall, Kylie and Kanye doing what they do best.
If there’s one thing that turns people off puzzles, it’s the space you need to make them. Areaware has the answer. It sells bite-sized puzzles that take about 20 minutes to complete – the perfect thing when you need to switch off from social media or Netflix for a while. We are really into the Munchies collection, which includes a bowl of cereal, a gummy bear and a pickle.
The words “two for the price of one” got our attention. That said, these 500-piece double-sided puzzles based on photographs by Gray Malin require a level of patience only self-isolation could provide. Take your pick from a day at the beach in the Amalfi, a trip to Hawaii or the snow-covered slopes, then flip it over and start again.
If you’re lamenting the days when you could stroll the streets of Melbourne, you might be interested in this puzzle. It pieces together the Melbourne city grid and surrounding suburbs, from Carlton to Footscray to St Kilda. The image – an updated version of the now-iconic map first released by local artists Melinda Clarke and Deborah Young in 1991 – includes landmarks such as the MCG, Federation Square and the Royal Botanic Gardens. It measures 69 by 49.5 centimetres, and Frames Now has a special offer on a custom-designed, ready-made frame if you want to turn your completed puzzle into wall art.
If you’re missing Sydney beach hangs and ocean pools, Vincent Rommelaere’s photos might suffice until you can dive right in once again. The French-born, Sydney-based filmmaker and art director takes stunning photos of the city’s beaches. You can choose between jigsaws of 500 or 1000 pieces, and each comes in a cotton bag with a print of the puzzle.
But maybe it’s not the sights and smells of the city you miss the most – maybe it’s your friends and loved ones. Since you can’t see them in person right now, you could instead have a puzzle made from your favourite photo of them and spend hours looking into their eyes. Bags of Love creates personalised puzzles up to 1000 pieces. You could even add a tea towel or pillow case to your cart while you’re there, so you can spend isolation with all your nearest and dearest in sight. Kind of.
If social distancing hasn’t already driven you mad, this puzzle sure will. Pick either the 100-, 500- or 1000-piece gradual colour gradient. There’s nothing else to it, and not much else to say about it except you’ve been warned.
Still puzzled by which one to pick?
Boom-tish. Well, just let someone else do it for you. With subscription service Puzzle Post, you can have a puzzle selected and sent to you every one, three or six months. All you need to do is decide on your degree of difficulty (or level of punishment). It was created by husband-and-wife team Chris and Mel Tantchev (who also started Australia’s first book-subscription service, Bookabuy), so puzzlers can spend more time finding their corners than trawling toy stores and op shops for new puzzles to challenge them.