For Press Puzzles owner Marc Tschida, it took several years before the pieces fell into place. “I had casually researched puzzle-making, but I thought I’d need lots of expensive equipment to make my own,” the longtime puzzle aficionado admits. By 2013, Tschida realized all he needed was a scroll saw, sand-paper, and a little elbow grease. Three years later, the self-taught puzzle maker began offering his Indiana imagery series, along with mixed-wood and custom puzzles, full-time.
Although he occasionally partners with visual artists, Tschida creates most of the imagery himself. “I photograph places that represent my community,” he says. “That’s primarily Bloomington, but, since I’ve gone full-time, it’s spreading statewide.” He recently added puzzles themed to Columbus, Nashville, Madison, West Lafayette, and Indianapolis.
Making one of those takes about seven days. Tschida first prints the puzzle image on archival paper, adheres it to soy-based plywood, and allows the adhesive to cure inside a vacuum press for up to 24 hours. Next, he cuts the puzzle into pieces and protects them with acrylic. Finally, he hand-sands the puzzle’s backside with 220-grit paper and applies wood wax.
Making wood puzzles is trickier. “Rather than a photograph, I’ll use eight to 10 wood species to create a geometric pattern that I then turn into a jigsaw puzzle,” he explains.
As for custom puzzles? Costing as much as $450, they come in engraved wooden boxes and can be 750 pieces. Try not to lose one.