Puzzle 834 - Carnival of Harlequin

By Custom Puzzle Craft

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Puzzle 834 - Carnival of Harlequin
From a painting by Joan Miro
1322 pieces, Swirl Curl cutting style
Limited Edition of ONE

I started Carnival of Harlequin as puzzle #833 in January 2010 and had a major disaster after about a week of work. While waiting for a second print to arrive, I made Octastar as #833, which in of itself took seemingly forever as I figured out how to execute a complex design, and then made Carnival of Harlequin as #834. The failed version is documented here along with the successful version.

As it happened (from my Journal archives)

January 14, 2010

Thursday 6:38 pm - The mount for #833, Carnival of Harlequin, looks good. Tomorrow morning I'll come up with the figural set and later in the day I expect to start cutting. I figure it will take me 5-6 days to cut it, if I take a leisurely pace.

January 16, 2010

Saturday 9:12 am - I have not started cutting #833, Carnival of Harlequin, I expect to start this afternoon.

The bi-annual "puzzle parley" will be held this August in Salem MA. I have accepted a request to give a talk on Saturday evening August 14th about the 100 Puzzles Project!

Saturday 2:41 pm - Due to some problems balancing various books and dealing with a particularly large backlog of email, puzzle cutting has been delayed another day. Everything is resolved now, I don't see the possibility of another delay, so cutting should start tomorrow.

January 17, 2010

Sunday 4:01 pm - Cutting of #833, Carnival of Harlequin, is underway at last. But just barely! I did the fairly harrowing initial cut, subdividing the board, then cut the puzzle's plain border. Cutting will continue tomorrow. I've apparently developed something like arthritis in my right index finger in the past couple weeks, it was acting up a lot while cutting. I plan to investigate this problem after the puzzle is done. [Edit: by March 2010, the problem went away].

January 18, 2010

Monday 2:36 pm - Got in some cutting today, the board is now subdivided into eight sections, the figurals all placed, and a few color line cutting sections cut out. There will be more clc in the puzzle. The paper is cutting extremely well, an excellent lithograph for puzzles. The image is cool and I'm having fun cutting it.

Puzzle #833, Carnival of Harlequin, current status

Three or four major storms are predicted for San Diego this week with unknown implications for the rest of the country. The winds have already picked up, there are white caps in the Pacific, heavy rain is on its way. I'm going to the beach tomorrow morning to get photos of the waves. Storm photos have priority over the puzzle!

January 19, 2010

Tuesday 6:35 pm - The second of four storms struck today. I took a bunch of wave pictures this morning. While the surf was way up, it wasn't any where near the heights advertised - didn't get any particularly neat photos.

Pacific Ocean today at Coronado

Torrential downpour at the shop this afternoon, a couple inches in about 30 minutes - much less at the official San Diego rain gauge. A tornado warning was issued, but none came. Still, very strong winds rattled the shop.

I used cinder blocks to make a path from the shop
I'll present a video of this rain this August at the Puzzle Parley.

I did about 130 pieces today, will continue tomorrow.

January 20, 2010

Wednesday 5:05 pm - Today I was at the shop for close to five hours and made another dent in the puzzle, cutting about 180 pieces with the total now around 310. I've upped the projected piece count from around 1200 to around 1300. Cutting continues to go well. The third of the four storms is now in progress, held off until I was finished at the shop.

I went to the shore again to get pictures. The seas were rougher and with the morning sunlight I got some pretty good pictures.

Waves at the jetty near Hotel del Mar in Coronado

Flood tide
This about as far as the water reached

January 21, 2010

Thursday 4:14 pm - Another five hours at the shop with about 185 more pieces cut, bringing the total to close to 500. For some reason or other this puzzle is taking me longer than usual to cut for a Swirl Curl, but cutting goes well. I did hit a void which affected one piece, I'll repair it tomorrow, there should be no visible effect to the front or back of the piece. I'll have in-progress pictures tomorrow.

The fourth and last storm of the series has now passed. This storm brought the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in normally sedate San Diego, about 29.18". This storm was more wind than rain although there was still a lot of rain. Many reports of flooding and big trees down. There is a coastal flood warning in effect and I plan to get pictures tomorrow. I did get some pictures this morning but with mist and stinging gale driven sand, the pictures did not come out well. I figure at Mixed Media we received about 5" of rain this week, about what we received last year. Even the deserts were soaked, there should be excellent desert blooms in March-April. All of California has been drenched. All talks of drought, low snow packs in the mountains, etc. should vanish.

January 22, 2010

Friday 5:31 pm - Puzzle cutting marathon today, continuing to work on #833, Carnival of Harlequin, from around 9:30 am to about 5 pm, with an hour break to check out the ocean (completely over-hyped, at least at Coronado). I encountered another void problem that I was able to repair but with a slight visible effect on the front, then later in the day hit a spot where the paper was not fully glued, some damage there. Sigh. I was able to make the repair but there is a spot of white I'm going to have to fix later w/ colored pencils. I cut about 280 pieces, now have around 770 done and at least 530 to go, maybe 540. Despite the technical problems, the cutting itself is cool - lots of color line cutting; the puzzle will be a large challenging, fun puzzle to put together. There is at least one more void in the sections remaining to be cut.

Puzzle 833 - Carnival of Harlequin - current progress
As can be seen there is quite a bit of color line cutting - I'll have much better pictures when the puzzle is done

Last night we had numerous showers, some with very, very strong winds, at least gale force; today more showers, some strong, two with small hail. It is much calmer now and tomorrow is predicted to be sunny and milder, at last. That record low pressure yesterday was 29.15" not 29.18", breaking the previous record of 29.37" by a very large margin. San Diego has the least barometric pressure variability in the continental United States, I'm pretty sure of that. I figure at least 6" of rain at the shop this week, and I heard that the deserts received almost 4", a stunning amount.

Small hail today on the table I use for sanding puzzles

January 23, 2010

Saturday 2:03 pm - In the greatest puzzle cutting disaster in the history of Custom Puzzle Craft, I've decided to call the former puzzle #833, Carnival of Harlequin, a loss, almost a week's worth of work. My experience has been that my method of gluing paper to wood works extremely well for puzzles say 14" x 11" and smaller. When I get up to 20" x 15" I may have just a few problems, but am usually successful. When I get up to the 25" x 18" size like this one, the chances of problems increase, and I've found that for very large puzzles, say 30"x 24", it pays to get them professionally mounted. I prefer glue mounted puzzles as there is no cutting residue.

Today when I resumed cutting, I almost immediately hit a second paper problem:

Former puzzle #833, show stopper

When cutting a curl, as I began to spiral out, the paper just ripped away. I could have glued the tiny piece back down and then resumed cutting the curl, but this is no way to cut a puzzle. Careful inspection has led me to believe that the problem area in this area of the puzzle could be fairly extensive; the first time I hit this problem in another area, my repair was not that good, already making the puzzle questionable. Combined with a problem void and several other areas I'm not happy about, it is time to face the music; this puzzle is not up to the level of quality I expect for a puzzle of this size and certainly not for a culminating 100 Puzzles Project puzzle.

My current plan is this: Three of the remaining four puzzles in the 100 Puzzles Project are large and I'll have all three professionally dry mounted. I am going to switch the orders of the next two puzzles (the Puzzle Queue does not yet reflect this). I will re-order a Carnival of Harlequin print and make this puzzle in February - I'll keep the uncompleted first attempt at cutting this puzzle and use it for guidance as I want the color line cutting to be as similar as possible to what I already did. Meanwhile the trick puzzle which was going to be #98 in the project has been moved up to #97.

I'm going to take the rest of the day off. Tomorrow I'll begin design work for this trick puzzle. The puzzle will be plain wood, painted in a manner yet to be determined. I'm not sure if the design I have in mind is possible, I'll focus on this tomorrow. Due to the disaster, there is a good chance the 100 Puzzles Project will get pushed back a month.

Former #833, current (last) status

January 24, 2010

Sunday 2:28 pm - Today I placed an order for a new Carnival of Harlequin of print.

I've resequenced the next two puzzles in the queue as a result of yesterday's disaster. Not clear if I'll get the January puzzle done in January.

February 4, 2010

Thursday 11:20 pm - Today I dropped off the board and print for #834, the remake of Carnival of Harlequin for professional mounting. This job will be done by Monday at the latest.

Interlude - I make Puzzle #833, Octastar

February 23, 2010

Tuesday 6:07 pm - The second attempt of Carnival of Harlequin, #834 is underway, finally! I did the harrowing initial cuts, dividing the board into quarters, did the edges, and subdivided one of the quarters into smaller sections, cutting several figurals and some small clc'd pieces. Just seven pieces have been cut so far. This is a major puzzle, and will have around 1300 Swirl Curl style pieces. Tomorrow I hope to finish the first of the quarter sections, with about 270 pieces.

February 24, 2010

Wednesday 6:17 pm (edited Thursday 6:42 am) - I'm now in marathon mode, was at the shop for more the eight hours with about seven hours at the saw. Cut close to 300 pieces - the first major section, plus I did some subdividing work and some figural / line cutting in the second section. Cutting is going well, no errors or problems so far. I expect to put in another long day tomorrow, then slow down the pace a little until the puzzle is done.

Puzzle #834 - Carnival of Harlequin, current status
About 1/2 of the total puzzle is in the picture, there are two more big sections (uncut) out of the picture.

February 26, 2010

Friday 7:11 am - Yesterday (February 25) the cutting marathon continued with a similar amount of time spent cutting #834, Carnival of Harlequin. I completed the second section, cutting close to 340 pieces. Lots of subtle devious color line cutting. With 640 pieces so far, the puzzle is close to half done. Cutting continues to go extremely well with no problems. In the first attempt, last January, I abandoned the puzzle around the 800 piece mark. I've decided to go for a third long day today. I cut my first "stand up" piece yesterday (a piece which may stand up within the puzzle), the Observer took the honors.

Puzzle #834 - Carnival of Harlequin, current status

The Observer making a standup appearance!

February 27, 2010

Saturday 12:37 am - Yesterday (February 26) - Between the third long day in a row spent cutting #834, Carnival of Harlequin (100 Puzzles Project #98) and attending the extended program for a grand opening of a new ballroom, I had very little time for anything else today (now yesterday - Friday). On Friday, I cut another 325 or so pieces and now have around 965 done with about 340 to go. Cutting continues to go well and I'm now well past the point where I abandoned the previous attempt at this puzzle. I expect a lighter day of cutting tomorrow and I plan to wrap up the cutting on Sunday. The auction for this puzzle will launched next week.

Earlier this week, during some spare time, I continued to develop a collection of corporate logos for #835, the #99th puzzle of the 100 Puzzles Project - The S&P 500 puzzle [Edit: later named Logosphere]. I now have logo files for 80 of the 500 companies in the index. After the Carnival of Harlequin auction is launched I will step up work collecting the complete set of logos and then begin the major task of designing the image for the puzzle - the puzzle may be so large that I might have to use stack cutting to combine two boards into a single puzzle - this remains to be seen. If I'm successful combining boards, I will likely use this technique for #100, the massive Grand Finale of the project.

Puzzle #834 - Carnival of Harlequin, current status

Saturday 4:57 pm - No puzzle work today, needed a break - will resume cutting tomorrow; expect to finish the puzzle on Monday.

February 28, 2010

Sunday 6:35 pm - In a massive all day effort, I completed #834, Carnival of Harlequin (100 Puzzles Project #98), finally! The puzzle is very well cut, and I'm happy that I didn't hit a single void in the wood. Tomorrow I'll do just a little work - sanding the puzzle and taking formal pictures. I came close to 1300 pieces, probably around 1310. Tomorrow or Tuesday, March 2, I'll take apart the puzzle and count the pieces. I expect to launch the auction for this puzzle on Tuesday or Wednesday. Carnival of Harlequin with about 1300 Swirl Curl pieces, has the most pieces of any puzzle I've made, except for #149, The Metamorphosis of Narcissus, and #823, The World. These two puzzles were cut in Long Round, and are owned by a customer in the U.K. So #834 sets a new record for a Swirl Curl puzzle, the previous Swirl Curl record was set by #826, Carina Nebula (100 Puzzles Project #90) with 1003 pieces.

On Monday I'll also ship #833, Octastar.

I'm very psyched to get the 100 Puzzles Project done! Puzzle #835, the 99th puzzle of the Project, informally named at this point as The S&P 500 Index Puzzle, requires that I locate art for all 500 of the corporate logos for the companies belonging to the S&P 500 index. I will resume work on this soon - then I need to do the challenging task of designing the puzzle! The last puzzle of the project requires work to get rights to an extremely high resolution digital image of the art work, I expect to get back to this task after I have acquired all 500 logos for #99 and before I start cutting #99.

Puzzle #834 - Carnival of Harlequin, cutting completed
Formal pictures soon!

March 1, 2010

Monday 3:25 pm - Puzzle #833, Octastar, shipped.

Today I sanded the back of #834, Carnival of Harlequin and took official pictures. I'm posting the main picture here (see top of this page), will have some others later.

March 2, 2010

Tuesday 10:53 pm - The "dewhiskering" of the pieces of #834, Carnival of Harlequin is taking longer than expected. Sometimes puzzle pieces don't need any work or just a little, others quite a bit, perhaps due to minor variations in the wood. I have 600 of the estimated 1300 pieces done. Between sets of 100 pieces I worked obtaining corporate logo graphics for the next puzzle, The S&P 500 Index Puzzle. A few days ago I said I had 80 done, turns out I had 70 done. I now have 120 done. The start of the auction for Carnival of Harlequin has been delayed to Thursday.

March 3, 2010

Wednesday 6:05 pm - I've now completed the unusually arduous inspection / cleanup process for #834, Carnival of Harlequin. Final piece count 1322.

Puzzle 834 - cleanup
T he pieces in the top row with whiskers before cleanup - bottom row, afterwards

I plan to launch the auction tomorrow afternoon - I will have more to say about the puzzle and will have more pictures.

March 4, 2010

Thursday 5:44 pm - Auction launched. Will update rest of website after classes are done.

Thursday 10:10 pm - Other sections of this website have been updated to reflect the launch of the Auction. The auction is off to an excellent start, thank you! In the auction description I discuss some of the features of this puzzle, including "false clc".

March 5, 2010

Friday 4:34 pm - For the first time in months I am totally caught up with email, not a single one left unanswered!

The Auction is certainly off to a super start, with the current bid at almost $1.93 per puzzle piece, well more than my custom puzzle pricing of $1.10 per Swirl Curl style piece in the small piece size. So far all of the bidders have been bidders who have bid on previous puzzles in the 100 Puzzles Project. I wish eBay wouldn't scramble the bidder names for others to see, there was more of a bidding community when bidder names were all public.

March 6, 2010

Saturday 3:41 pm - The Auction is, well what can I say, but stupendous! The 100 Puzzles Project has really blossomed into a thing of itself, beyond puzzles, maybe a bit about me? And about the puzzle collecting community! I just have to keep a steady course, because these last two puzzles are going to be such an effort. And then it will be done. I must have received a dozen emails from people wanting puzzles in the past week. I'm going to have to collate them all and go through older ones and come up with a solution beyond lotteries and auctions on eBay for order slots. The puzzle auctions over the past couple years have gone to a very concentrated group of bidders, so there are people who are going empty handed - all I can say is patience. When the Project is done, I am going to take a major, major break before I resume in some fashion (excluding the work I have to do to prepare for the August Puzzle Parley - a presentation about the Project - and there will be some smaller puzzles for sale, one per customer).

March 10, 2010

Wednesday 3:56 pm - The Auction for 100PP #98, Carnival of Harlequin ends tomorrow. The auction has followed the standard pattern of lots of bids in the early going and then nothing going into the last day. Even with the outstanding bid of $4,150, there could be some sniper action in the last few minutes tomorrow.

March 11, 2010

Thursday 5:48 pm - The auction is over. wow, Wow, WOW! A bidder once suggested that I think about Carnival of Harlequin for a puzzle, which I eventually did. This bidder came in with less than a minute to go and placed a single, gigantic bid of $17,171.00 and he LOST! This price is way beyond anything I ever dreamed of, not even for the last puzzle of the project! Time for celebration!

March 15, 2010 (this entry added later)

Puzzle 834, Carnival of Harlequin shipped.

March 16, 2010

Tuesday 5:35 pm - The record setting price for 100 Puzzles Project #98, Carnival of Harlequin has spawned many email message, really putting the Project on the map. Thank you all for your emails and considerable interest!

From the auction description:

This is the 98th Custom Puzzle Craft wooden jigsaw puzzle to be offered in my ongoing 100 Puzzles Project of almost-monthly auctions.

This month's auction features a major puzzle with a new record number of pieces for a Swirl Curl puzzle!

This puzzle was cut in my Swirl Curl cutting style, known for its fairly tight curls and broader swirls and loops.

This puzzle is well cut with no problems encountered. This is the "big one" as far as my Swirl Curl style puzzles go, this is the last all Swirl Curl puzzle of the 100 Puzzle Project (the last puzzle of the project will contain some Swirl Curl). With 1322 pieces this puzzle solidly breaks my record for a Swirl Curl style puzzle; the previous "all Swirl Curl" record was the 89th puzzle of the project, Space Shuttle Triptych, with 714 pieces. The 90th puzzle of the project, Carina Nebula, was cut in "Swirl Curl + a few Creatives" and had 1003 pieces and could be considered the 2nd place Swirl Curl puzzle.

This puzzle is a limited edition of one. My "famous painting" policy is to make one and only one puzzle for any famous painting, despite numerous requests for additional puzzles. This policy goes back to January 2004 when after cutting a second Artist's Studio by Jan Vermeer, I decided "never again" - life is too short - that was the first and only time I did more than one puzzle of an image excluding my featured artists (e.g. K. Chin, Michael Seewald, etc.)

There is a lot of color line cutting in this puzzle. I tried to find a balance between enough clc to make the puzzle that much more interesting and challenging but not leave an ocean of beige background pieces - there are plenty as it is. The puzzle contains lots of figurals - 25 of them, all have appeared in previous puzzles. One of the figurals, "The Observer" is a "stand up" figural, my first ever, this piece has a base which fits within the space for the base in the puzzle, so The Observer can better see the "Hexa Curl" within the Green Globe. With a few exceptions, the edges are directly interlocking. This puzzle includes my standard signature piece (signed, dated and numbered on the back) and a second piece (the Rocket figural) marked on the back indicating the puzzle belongs to the 100 Puzzles Project.

This puzzle took a long time to make. I began cutting my first attempt in January and after 700-800 pieces were done I had a disaster hitting an area where the glue was not applied properly resulting in torn paper. I had several other problems before that and I decided to abandon the puzzle. I lost close to a week of work. The print for this puzzle was professionally dry mounted. The second attempt, which resulted in this puzzle, took four full days of cutting after the initial work and a long time afterwards to remove a lot more "whiskers" than usual from the back.

A high contrast gray-scale picture of the back - prior to sanding to reveal some of the color line cutting and figurals

Hexa Curl
The Observer figural is to the left

False clc!
One of the black prongs is clc'd the other one is a "false" clc within a larger black area

Figural set and Signature piece
Spiral Love Heart, corn stalk, bottles, airplane, elephant, man carrying suitcase
Fish, antelope, bug, cherries, rocket, butterfly
Turtle, solar sun, stand-up Observer, Feynman diagram, dachshund, dragon
Knight, steer, stretching cat, stiletto shoe, Pellie the Pelican, magic wand
Twirl star, Signature piece

Observer standing

Some clc'd sections

Micro clc

More micro clc

Big box of pieces

Manufacturing shot

100 Puzzles Project - Famous Artist Puzzles History
2000: none
2001: none
2002: none
2003: none
2004: #37 Van Gogh, The Church At Auvers
2005: #48 Caspar David Friedrich, Ploughed Fields
2006: none
2007: #65 William Bouguereau, Shepherdess
2008: none
2009: #93 Asher B. Durand, First Harvest in the Wilderness
2010: #98 Joan Miro, Carnival of Harlequin

Carnival of Harlequin
Joan Miro
Date Completed
February 28, 2010
24 5/8" x 17 7/8"
Cutting Style
# Pieces
Color Line Cutting
Fairly extensive
Spiral Love Heart, corn stalk, bottles, airplane, elephant, man carrying suitcase, fish, antelope, bug, cherries, rocket, butterfly, turtle, solar sun, stand-up Observer, Feynman diagram, dachshund, dragon, chess knight, steer, stretching cat, stiletto shoe, Pellie the Pelican, magic wand, twirl star

© John S. Stokes III - Puzzle Crafter & Webmaster

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