1,000 piece puzzles can be daunting, but are a great way to pass the time with multiple family members and keep that strategic brain busy. During quarantine time, it’s a great idea to designate a table or countertop in a common living area and kind of “puzzle graze” throughout the day. Ponder it awhile, take breaks, or come back to it while watching a movie or over a glass of after dinner wine. Laid out below is a step-by-step guide to completing a 1,000 piece puzzle that, once mastered, you can apply to a puzzle of any size!
Designate a Workspace
Before we take out the pieces, designate a specific workspace in a common area of the house like the dining room, a large coffee table, or a large kitchen island. Note the dimensions of the puzzle you're creating and clear a flat surface where you won't be disturbed. You don’t want to start a puzzle and realize halfway that you need to move your station.
If you think you might want to save or move the puzzle, put a flat poster board under it large enough for the dimensions of the finished puzzle.
Set Yourself up For Success!
Open your puzzle and turn every piece picture-side up. This may seem tedious, but it tees up every following step and will reduce the overall time your puzzle will take.
Again, don’t jump into fitting pieces together — the probability of finding matching pieces is small.
Sort your pieces by color and pattern. These are the most easily-distinguished features and they offer a way to break the puzzle into a series of manageable sub-tasks. Also, set aside corner and edge pieces.
Build The Frame
Many people like to create the border of their puzzle first. This allows you to better define your workspace and visualize the scale of each section.
Then, begin working through your segmented piles. Start with pieces that have high-contrast features that you can more easily correlate. Examples of this can include:
Some of the more featureless sections of the puzzle — such as a sky, lake or field — can be left to do later.
Don’t Give Up
Here comes the most frustrating part of building a puzzle, which is also the most rewarding when you get it right.
When you have a few small clusters created from high-contrast pieces, begin extending them outwards. If you're a visual learner, it can help to place your clusters where they would be in the puzzle framework. You can also take this time to connect your clusters to the border you created. If you further separated your pieces by tabs and blanks in The Setup, this stage will go faster.
More than anything, don't give up! Take a break or “tap out” for a family member with fresh eyes to contribute.
Once you’re done, you can either stare at it with pride for a few days until it goes back in the box, pour glue or Modge Podge on top to solidify it for life, or try out the “No-Glue-Method.”