For Christmas 2001, I had a handcrafted wooden puzzle made by John S. Stokes III (Custom Puzzle Craft) for Erin Kellem. The image used for the puzzle was one of her own photos, titled "Walk". It was a great surprise.
Puzzle #202 - Walk - 13.9" x 9.3", Swirl Curl, 295 pieces
Source image © Erin O. Kellem of Rin Photography
The "Erin" piece was color line cut against the tree - I felt a straight line would be obtrusive in that location
The piece which fits into the inner swirl of the clef note is fragile, something I need to watch out for the next time I cut that figural -John S. Stokes III
John also has a writeup describing this puzzle (some of the text is taken from here).
Earlier in the year, before Erin's birthday, I came up with the idea to have a nice puzzle created from one of her photos. I was originally thinking of having a very large (16"x20"), many piece (500-1000), puzzle made. I found that this would be very expensive. And, I couldn't find a puzzle maker that I really liked. So, I ended up putting the idea on the back burner, for a while.
A couple months before Christmas, I thought about the idea again and started searching for puzzle makers. After much searching, I ran across Custom Puzzle Craft, John S. Stokes III. John's passion and obvious quality of work convinced me that he was the puzzle maker to use. I absolutely love to support people in the things they're totally passionate about. And, he's great. Also, the journal he keeps as he creates the wooden puzzles is a nice, personal touch. I find a lot of people really like to see what's happening as he creates their puzzle. I know I did.
In November, I contacted John at Custom Puzzle Craft about creating a puzzle for a Christmas present. Of course, he was very booked up and had a huge backlog of puzzles. Luckily, after he analyzed his worklog schedule several times, he found he would be able to squeeze me in as the last puzzle for 2001. Yay!
In December, I told Erin that a friend and coworker, John (a different John), wanted the "Walk" puzzle for a gift. So, she quickly produced the matte print, which I immediately FedEx'd to Custom Puzzle Craft. John at Custom Puzzle Craft recommended a matte print.
He was able to start and complete the puzzle on Monday, December 17, 2001 and sent it via the USPS the following day. Unfortunately, with Christmas and all the extra precautions these days, it didn't arrive by Friday, as we had hoped. Normally, it would only take two days to get from San Diego to Mountain View. The pictures of the figure pieces for the puzzle on John's journal entry for December 17, 2001 looked fabulous.
Since the puzzle didn't arrive before I left to visit my parents on the east coast, I had to wait until January to give Erin the present. That's fine, though, since we're used to doing multiple Christmas's.
On Saturday, 5 January 2002, I went to Dan and Erin's house to give them the last two Christmas presents, one of which was the awesome puzzle detailed here. She loved the puzzle. I also included printed excerpts of John's daily web journal that included references to her puzzle, for her to read. She really liked that, too. We put together half of the puzzle that night. She and Dan completed the rest of it one Sunday. She had to call me immediately after finishing the puzzle to tell me that they had completed it!
Below are some pictures and journal entries copied from John Stokes' website journal from the time period when he was working on the puzzle for Erin.
December 14, 2001
7:49 pm - Decided to post even though the eBay auction has been delayed until tomorrow.
I was up to 2am last night, getting completed puzzles ready for shipment today. I shipped them this morning, so all completed puzzles as of yesterday have shipped, except for last month's Rose puzzle.
Today I made the nine six piece Car Puzzles, shown below. I had fun designing various cutting styles for these puzzles - basically grid / geometric featuring some curls in some puzzles. The customer had provided me with black and white digital images and I added the colors (of my choice) and grays for the chrome. Each puzzle is 10 1/2" wide and contains six pieces.
I cut the circular wavy border for puzzle #199 - eBay 100 Puzzles Project puzzle - The Noble Gathering. However, I need a break and I'll make the puzzle tomorrow when I'm "fresh". Auction will start sometime in the late afternoon, Pacific Time.
Pre-Christmas backlog drops nine to five (including the December eBay puzzle), post-Christmas backlog unchanged at three. So...... I've descended from the second mountain and have a third and final tall one to climb in this expedition, starting tomorrow. Besides the eBay puzzle, I have four puzzle to make before Christmas, with higher projected piece counts than those I've been making of late: 266 [erin's puzzle -jeff], 160, 143, and 800-1000 (Fantasy Faire). I expect to complete the first three of these by the end of this weekend; pack / ship puzzles on Monday and start Fantasy Faire on Monday or Tuesday. I have notified the last person on my "tiny chance before Christmas" list that there is no chance the "order door" can be opened a crack before Christmas.
Received a nice email today: I received the puzzle this morning - it is beautiful - I had to put it together before starting to wrap each piece - I hope to mail it to Lisbon tomorrow. The faces looked really nice. Even the boxes are beautiful! GREAT WORK! This was puzzle #188 - I Fedexed it yesterday (seems like ages ago!) in a small puzzle box, plus a complimentary large puzzle box to hold all of the tiny gift boxes each piece will be placed in. You're welcome!
Will update the puzzle tables, which are now pretty far behind, after I ship Fantasy Faire.
December 15, 2001
5:20 pm - Cut #199, The Nobel Gathering, the 16th puzzle in the 100 Puzzles Project. Unfortunately with the short winter days, I did not have enough lighting to get an acceptable photograph for the Auction (I like to shoot the pictures with natural light). So I've delayed the auction one more day - until Sunday. The puzzle has 179 pieces - and like last month, I decided not to include Creative Whirlie Pieces at the last moment - this time I felt I needed more space to roam and get psyched to cut those kind of pieces, and with the puzzle being only 8 1/8" in diameter and with a lot of imagery within the small space, I felt constricted - so I stuck to Long Round. There is some color line cutting here and there (including the tradition of cutting along the Unicorn's horn). There are two figurals, ones I recently designed for other puzzles.
Backlog drops one to four Pre-Christmas and three Post-Christmas. I'll start the auction sometime Sunday morning (Pacific Time) and then focus on the pre-Christmas backlog.
December 16, 2001
10:48 am - Auction underway. I made this a FIVE day auction to enable possible pre-Christmas delivery via Fedex.
9:30 pm - The pre-Christmas marathon continues. I rearranged the schedule a little, switching today's and tomorrow's work - cut two puzzles today.... #200! On The Dock, a marriage proposal puzzle, a young couple on a dock, with the words "Will you marry me" contained in a two piece heart figural, 8" x 10", 160+ Swirl Curl pieces; and Pink Tulips, my first Gallery Puzzle in some time (see Flower Puzzles), 10" x 6.5" 140+ Swirl Curl pieces. There are a few nice pieces I cut today that I'd like to discuss as Swirl Curl as evolved very slightly in the last half year - perhaps early next year I'll post something.
So........... pre-Christmas backlog is down to two! and post-Christmas backlog remains unchanged at three. Tomorrow I will cut a bit heftier puzzle #202, titled Walk, about 13.9" x 9.3", Swirl Curl with several figurals and text pieces. I need to design one new figural (a Dragon Fly) and several text pieces, including the word "Love". I did design the word "Loves" in puzzle #84 (Elemental Beginnings), but I haven't decided if I'm going to use that as the basis for the design or design a different style of the word from scratch. I expect to make the puzzle tomorrow. During late Monday and a good portion of Tuesday, I will focus on shipping the completed puzzles.
My last pre-Christmas puzzle is a new attempt at Fantasy Faire. This will take three-five days to cut, and alas, I will likely miss the Christmas shipping deadline.
After Fantasy Faire is completed, I'm going on a much needed puzzle cutting break, continuing through at least January 7th of next year. My bulked up puzzle cutting arms will then atrophy like they did last year!
I envision that I'll decline a number of puzzle orders in January - as I focus on some very, very long delayed website work and some very delayed new featured artist work. I may make very few puzzles in the first three months of next year - I'll see.
December 17, 2001
9:20 pm - In what turned out to be a very long day of cutting, I completed #202, "Walk", the last puzzle specifically ordered for Christmas. Will have piece count later - probably 300 Swirl Curl. I came close to losing the puzzle while cutting the clef note figural (probably my most difficult figural), a thin interior piece will require some attention while handling, overall the puzzle is superb. Will have a picture later. The puzzle was made from a matte-photo - the paper cut extremely well, was hard to follow the blade at times as the "trail" was hardly visible. The paper has a bit more glare than some other paper I've worked with so lower light is recommend when assembling.
I revised my "Love" text piece a bit, making the line which flows from the letter "o", go through the "v" to connect with the "e". A fine "piece" of work in my opinion. I also placed a leaping frog figural in an appropriate location relative to a dragonfly figural (newly designed). The puzzle's picture is of a path through a very dense woods.
So........ one more puzzle remains for this year. Fantasy Faire! Seems to be my continuing challenge..... tomorrow I take a very much needed puzzle cutting break and concentrate on preparing / shipping the Car puzzles (#190-198) and #200-202. Post Christmas backlog unchanged at three.
January 13, 2002
12:15 pm - Picture of #202, Walk - will have more comments when I create a separate page for this puzzle. The picture was purchased by the customer from Rin Photography - eventually I'll list this gallery as one of the places prints may be purchased, as the matte paper used by this gallery cuts well.
January 19, 2002
10:20 pm - I was looking at my web activity log and noticed about a half dozen hits from "dreams.org".... tracing back, it was nice to find a nice writeup of the puzzle #202 "Walk", see http://www.dreams.org/puzzles/erin-2001/ [That's this page. -jeff] - thanks, Jeff.
11:20 pm - Updated tables (Custom Log, Experimental Log, Latest Puzzles), added a page for puzzle #202 - Walk