FAQ - Updated Feb 17, 2021
First off, thank you so much for your interest in Stumpcraft Puzzles!
During this past holiday season we worked diligently to deliver as many puzzles into the hands of our valued customers as possible. As a small, family-run business we take pride in every puzzle we make, ensuring the highest quality we can. As you can imagine, this takes time and we ask for your continued patience.
As demand for our puzzles now exceeds our capacity to make them, our focus is on getting as many puzzles out the door as possible. Nevertheless we expect to disappoint many of our existing and new fans in the early months of 2021, in not being able to accommodate your personal gift giving wishes. Frustrating no doubt! We readily admit it doesn't feel awesome from our perspective either.
In an effort to reduce distractions and focus on puzzle production, we've temporarily disabled our website chat function as we felt we couldn't respond in a timely, adequate manner. We have also paused webstore sales while we replenish stock, and focus on scaling up production for 2021. If you have a question regarding an existing order, please reply to the invoice email or SMS you received. Otherwise, most of your questions should be answered below.
Thank you for your continued support. Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy 2021.
A number of your puzzles appear as sold out. When will these sold out puzzles be available again?
The webstore inventory will be updated on Monday February 22nd, 2021. We are currently cutting and boxing:
- Another Goal
- We Are the Lotus Kids
- Sunset Glow
Are you available in any stores?
Most of our retailers are sold out of stock as well and are awaiting fulfillment. We are working on plans to quadruple production in 2021. It will take time for us to get there, but once we've stabilized at new production levels, we will be seeking additional wholesale relationships with carefully selected stores and galleries.
StumpCraft has existing relationships with the following retailers:
- The Tom Thomson Art Gallery, in Owen Sound ON
- Frame of Mind, in Edmonton AB
- Peter Robertson Gallery, in Edmonton AB
- Get the Goods, in Whistler BC
Do you, or will you have any promotions over the next few weeks?
The next anticipated promotion will occur when we release our first puzzle in the 2021 catalog: Steve Coffey's "Morning". To be alerted for this promo, we recommend signing up for the newsletter (see the entry form at the bottom of the page).
Which puzzle should I get? How would you rate the various StumpCraft puzzles in terms of challenge?
In general, StumpCraft Puzzles are more difficult than your standard ribbon cut jigsaw, especially if you have never done a wooden laser-cut puzzle before. Expect to go through a learning curve on your first go. A useful rubric for comparing a StumpCraft Puzzle to a standard ribbon cut is to expect your 1st StumpCraft solution to take twice to four times as long as you would expect given the piece count. That said, there's also the matter of how piece count itself (or puzzle size) has an impact on the overall difficulty level of a puzzle.
Our trusted sources suggest that StumpCraft Puzzles have an average solution speed between 2.5-3 pieces per minute for expert puzzlers. Those times can get better with proper StumpCraft cross-training.
Those caveats aside, our current ranking of puzzles by difficulty is as follows (starting at most difficult):
- We Are the Lotus Kids
- Badlands to the Bone
- Sunset Glow
- Another Goal
- Soft Maple in Autumn
- Summer Medley
- The Sky Was Beautiful on Fire
- I Will Go There
- Bursting Blooms
- Happy Holidays
- Tea from the Void
- Noah's Ark
Help we've been Stumped! Any tips for solving a StumpCraft Jigsaw Puzzle?
First off, don't be too hard on yourself! StumpCraft Puzzles are designed to be challenging and rewarding. Striking that careful balance to maintain a flow experience is what I'm striving for during the design process. Ultimately I want to maintain peak engagement and enjoyment, while also pushing you towards that feeling of earned achievement!
In general with my puzzles, I'm using every possible tool at my disposal to make the puzzles interesting, fun, and (yes) challenging. I often end up playing with typical solving strategies and turn them on their head. So tricks in traditional puzzle solving can sometimes turn into traps...With that out of the way, here are some basic tips:
- Ignore the edge: as you no doubt discovered, I often hide edge pieces and corners, and also include straight edges on the inside.
- Find and build around unique shapes: rather than use the generic straight edge of the exterior to start the puzzle, it is generally much easier to start with a unique whimsy shape and then build around it. The easiest start in many of my puzzles is the maple leaf. The jagged edge is usually unlike any other shape in the puzzle and you can generally find the surrounding 5-6 pieces. Repeat this process with other unique whimsies and those become nodes of solution. In this way, the solution works kind of like crystal growth and eventually the clumps of nodes gradually merge together.
- "Blocking": this is a fairly standard puzzling technique, either used to segregate pieces by colors or by shape. I use this technique extensively, constantly refining as I work through a puzzle. Beyond colour segregation, you may also be able to separate pieces by "texture" (bubbles, leaves, hair, text, etc.) or painting brush stroke style.
- Don't use the reference image: your mileage may vary on this one but I generally don't use an image when solving. I find the image gets in the way as you end up often searching the reference image for quite some time trying to find where the piece goes within the frame, rather than using techniques like block to find the pieces that go together. This is often the habit that is hardest to break.
- Use shape: The biggest advantage you have with my puzzles are the very unique puzzle pieces. Over time, you'll train yourself to see shapes within the negative and positive elements of the pieces. If you let your imagination come to your aid, you might be able to name certain locks or puzzle pieces (kind of like cloud watching, aka pareidolia), and then later be able to find the right piece because the location of that "giraffe" or "teapot" piece has locked in your brain.
- Better out, then in: in some case, I'll have internal pieces, within an inner core. In those cases, you'll want to place the outer piece first and then the inner.
- Use the Claw: over time, you'll develop a single handed and double handed "claw" technique to move clumps of pieces to another location within the puzzle. With practice, you can move bigger clumps - it's all about applying the Goldilocks amount of pressure.
If I'd like to permanently mount and frame a StumpCraft puzzle, what would you suggest?
We would recommend adopting non-destructive methods of framing. This reflects our own preference with doing our wooden puzzles several times, and treating them as ephemeral displays of table art. That said, many prefer a more permanent wall display.
If you count yourself among the latter, we would recommend using puzzle tape to secure the back. At the time of this writing, Amazon carries two well-reviewed versions: Buffalo's Puzzle Presto, and Eurographics Smart Puzzle Glue Sheets.
To access the back of the puzzle, you'll need two firm sheets of MDF, thick cardboard or coroplast. On one sheet, carefully slide the puzzle off your table surface and place the stack back onto the table. Then with the second sheet, form a puzzle sandwich (sheets are the bread, puzzle the PB&J). Carefully flip the puzzle sandwich over and return to the table in order to access the back for taping.
Some customers have used glue to mount their puzzles, and they claim it worked well. We generally recommend the tape as a non-destructive method, just in case you ever decide to do the puzzle again. We don't recommend the "Modge Podge" method, as the weight of the wooden pieces would likely exceed the bond strength of a surface coating like one would do with a cardboard puzzle.
Once the puzzle back is secured, it is then time to bring it over to your local framer to do the rest. Speaking of which, Frame of Mind in Edmonton will be showcasing their work in a guest StumpCraft blog post in 2021. Stay tuned for their recommendations.
When will you be offering custom wooden puzzles again?
We are no longer printing custom puzzles as a result of the recent increase in puzzle production demand. We will be evaluating over the coming months but don't expect to offer custom puzzles until Summer 2021 at the earliest. For more details on our past Custom Puzzles, read this.