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How to Solve Jigsaw Puzzles Like a Pro

Jigsaw puzzles come in all different shapes, colors, and number of pieces that help provide a spectrum of difficulty levels. Back in November of 2019, I started a 1,000 piece Rick & Morty jigsaw puzzle that only had a couple of colors. I thought - 1,000 pieces? No problem!

This was a difficult puzzle.

As with all puzzles that I have done previously, I started to do the border to get a rough idea. I thought I had it all figured out but shortly realized some pieces fit together even though it was not meant to be. I became so frustrated that I removed it from my dining room table and quit. Out of sight, out of mind.

Fast forward half a year later, I bought this bad boy back out.

5 Tips and Tricks That Helped Me Succeed:

Tip 1: Pick the right workspace.

Your workspace should be big enough to accommodate your puzzle. It should also be flat and smooth so that it is easy to slide pieces around the table as well as in an area that is undisturbed. If you do not have a table like this at home, you can always buy a foam board or puzzle mat to help. Puzzle mats give you the convenience of rolling it up and storing your progress while a foam board is great to pick up your workstation and put it elsewhere for the time being.

Tip 2: Start to set up and sort by colors, patterns, textures, and edges.

Flip all of the pieces over and begin to sort. For smaller puzzles (500 or less), you may not need to sort since it is easier to see all of the pieces laid out on the table.

The more pieces you have, the more time you should spend sorting groups of colors, patterns, textures, and edges. Pattern and texture sorts can make a huge difference when you have different images of the same color. For example, if you have a blue sky and a blue ocean, you could separate these out based on the pattern and texture. I wish I did this when I sorted because it would have saved me time when working on small sections!

One last note on sorting - if you are short on space, store each pile in a cookie sheet!

Tip 3: Have a plan.

Before starting a puzzle, think about how you want to go about it. For many puzzles, I always began with the border for a point of reference. This strategy clearly failed me the first time I tried this puzzle. Since this puzzle had 2 to 3 rows of black around a centerpiece of art, it was extremely challenging to figure out which piece belonged to which side. Out of frustration, I didn't even bother to work on small distinct sections that could be connected.

On my second try, I pushed my borders to the side and started with any and all notable features: words, little dudes, the pink tube like intestine, and monsters. Then, I worked on the remaining red pieces, the bones, and then filled in the black outside. My plan was to build this puzzle from inside out. Going through these larger defined sections allowed me to slowly fill in the smaller details as my piles of sorted pieces got less overwhelming.

Tip 4: Sort again if you need to.

Now that I had a fairly filled in puzzle, I was left with mainly black pieces. I sorted the pieces by shape. This allowed me to slowly build around the centerpiece by determining what kind of shape could fit. I even lined the pieces up to remind myself what it should look like. If all of your shapes are the same, I'm sorry to tell you but you have a really hard puzzle. Good luck!

Tip 5: Take a break and go do something else.

Sometimes, it is better to give your eyes a break and come back to it another day. I call it "puzzle eyes." Puzzling should be a relaxing experience and there is nothing relaxing about sitting there frustrated for hours and tired of looking at the same colors. Do something else and start again tomorrow with a fresh set of eyes. I guarantee you will find another piece to connect.

All in all, this puzzle was definitely more challenging than any of my other puzzles. HOWEVER, I found it highly rewarding when I finally completed it. I hope you enjoyed the journey of my struggle and take these tips with you when faced with a difficult puzzle!

If you want to give this puzzle a try, you can purchase it here. Let me know if you have any tips in the comments below that have helped you get through a challenging puzzle!

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Puzzle Sensei

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