The Great Jigsaw Puzzle Imperative and Other Analog Pursuits

One of my pen pals recently recommended a book to me that I just received from the library after putting it on hold. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax is fascinating because I came to many of the same conclusions six to ten years ago.


I missed a few of the things I used to enjoy, notably making art and writing stories and journalling. When I started collecting tarot cards and various other cards including playing cards in 2000, it opened me up to both art and writing again and it never stopped. 

I like creating on my computer but I sometimes feel chained to a screen and it’s nice to sit in an armchair with a piece of paper and write. I resurrected a Parker 51 fountain pen in 2015 that was an old family pen purchased circa 1963, and I’ve filled a lot of journals in the last few years. I like the decorated journals that Paperblanks and Peter Pauper Press publish. 


This year I discovered the Rhodia Webnotebooks which take fountain ink very well and I love the dot grid that these bullet journals feature because you can draw tables and headings. 


I’ve been working my way through it, using stickers on every page for colour and variety, decorating the cover, and using it for “morning pages” as Julia Cameron often cites in her books. I’ve tried doing that before but it hurts my arm to write too much and the smaller size of this journal makes it easier to fill pages. I actually bought two of Julia’s newer books this year: Finding Water and It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. She has some wise things to say about not giving up, persevering despite chronic pain and ageing or other problems in life.


In July 2018 I had seen people online doing regular jigsaws that had stunning artwork. I have used a couple of digital jigsaw programs on a laptop, mainframe computer, and now my iPad, but when seeing real jigsaws again I remembered how much I’d enjoyed them through the years. I bought four of them about five or six years ago but had nowhere to work them, but I now have a long, white Linnmon table from Ikea that I use in my sewing area, and it works very well for jigsaws too.


I started collecting some puzzles, and then got some more. I discovered that jigsaw puzzles go out-of-print like books, so I bought some more. I now have fifty-six jigsaws and have done quite a few of them in the last four months. I found some of them too easy so bought a few with 2,000 and 3,000 pieces to challenge myself. I even bought five Christmas themed jigsaws and have done all those which was a lot of fun.


One of my favourites is a Pomegranate puzzle of the Tower of Babel from the Bedford Hours. I’ve had a write-up on this image from a large book I own on illuminated manuscripts, so I was delighted to find it in a puzzle.


White Mountain puzzles has a nice map of World Explorers that features two of my heroes, Lewis and Clark in the centre. I’ve been collecting a few postcards and books on these two and I even named my Garmin portable GPS device William Clark. “Clarkie”, as I call the device, helped me navigate to my new home.


Cognitive abilities are enhanced by doing jigsaws. The act uses both the right and left sides of the brain, keeps things sparking in there, and also brings a keenness to perception of colour and shape, observation, and provides some meditative peace for the brain, lets it enjoy ruminating and noticing without the jangly noise and frenetic activity of a computer. Call it “finding flow” or “going within” but the human brain likes a little quiet time to bounce around and happily connect things. 

Try a puzzle, see what I mean. It’s like finding water…


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2 Responses to The Great Jigsaw Puzzle Imperative and Other Analog Pursuits

  1. Beverly King says:

    Holy cow, I can’t imagine doing a 1000-2000 piece puzzle (though I do enjoy jigsaw puzzles). This past summer, my cousins, my mom and I did a 500 pc. one. It was like herding cats, 😀 but we finally finished it and declared to do more together next summer.
    I’ll be interested to hear how the “It’s Never Too Late” book is. I’m sure it’s from dealing with tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods, but my creativity seems to have dried up!

  2. JJ ColourArt says:

    The secret to doing larger puzzles is to sort the colours in separate boxes, it’s so much easier to find pieces and the pieces aren’t laid out on the table where they can fall or be chewed by cats. Yes, the stresses of that hurricane must be leaving you frazzled–hard to be creative when you’re on high alert, as if you can never relax. I have a 3,000 piece puzzle I might start soon, not sure whether to wait until after Christmas or just leap in!

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