Review: “Tapestry Cat” by Lewis T. Johnson, White Mountain — 9/10
Publisher: White Mountain (US), published 2014
Title: “Tapestry Cat” by Lewis T. Johnson, White Mountain, 1000 pieces
Finished size: 24″ x 30″
OUR RATING: 9/10
WHITE MOUNTAIN WEEK:
This week on the blog we’re featuring White Mountain puzzles. There’s a terrific sale on White Mountain at Puzzle Warehouse all month (30% off!). So we’re featuring White Mountain reviews this week and we’ll have an interview with one of the partner’s at White Mountain on the weekend.
The box front is shown above. The front shows the image, the puzzle title and the artist, which is nice to see. The box size is roughly 10″ x 12″.
Back: The back of the box is blank white.
All 4 sides feature an image of the puzzle, the piece count, puzzle name and artist, which makes the box quite nice for shelving vertically. The year of manufacture (2014) is also on one side.
This puzzle comes with nothing except a sheet about White Mountain puzzles that has a guarantee and lets you sign up for catalogs and newsletters. The bag of puzzle pieces was in good shape with no damaged or still connected pieces. There was a small amount of puzzle dust.
Overall, I’ve given the box a score of ‘8’, dinged a bit for no additional ‘goodies’ and no artist bio or more info about the puzzle image.
The Image: 10/10
I was immediately attracted to this image a few years ago when I bought this puzzle. It has everything you might want in a puzzle image. I’m not a huge cat person in real life (we have dogs), but I like cat puzzles from artists like Amy Rosenberg, Charles Wysocki, Geoff Tristram, and Leslie Anne Ivory. The cat in this image isn’t the main feature of interest to me, however. I love the separate areas of colorful detail–the large, repeating border, the Morris-esque wallpaper pattern behind the cat, and the flowers densely packed into the cat’s center. These all looked interesting to assemble and pretty separate from each other, making it a collage or series-of-vignettes type puzzle. I’m pleased to say that’s exactly what it was like to assemble too!
The artist, Lewis T. Johnson, has done other puzzle images. I’m partially fond of “Bunnies in the Garden“, which has a similar art style. Several more cat puzzles followed after “Tapestry Cat”, and they’re all good. You can see images at the bottom of this review. The art style is polished and I love the hand-drawn/painted detail. This is clearly not just a digital image.
One other thing to note about this image, which I’ll talk about more under Assembly, is the fact that elements repeat. Not just in the border, where it’s obvious, but among the ‘wallpaper’ background and flowers, there are repeating elements. This adds some additional challenge to assembly, which I really liked.
I’ve given this image full marks.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (9/10)
I recently updated my White Mountain Brand Comparison page. I quite liked the quality on their 2016 puzzle, “Winter Village”, and I’m pleased to say that “Tapestry Cat”, from 2014, was also quite good. The pieces felt a little thicker than some White Mountain puzzles I’ve done in the past, and there was no image lift at all on “Tapestry Cat”.
As I mention in my brand comparison, I like the larger piece sizes and the random cut. I like that pieces stay connected fairly well, so you can move around blocks of assembled pieces without them falling part. I also like how smooth and flat the pieces lie once connected, and the larger size of the finished puzzle. The colors are very rich and clear. There is a glossy finish, which can lead to glare under bright daylight or overheads lights.
Also, the very flat, smooth finish looks great and the cut blends in well, allowing you to see the image itself rather than the jigsaw cut.
Note that because of the larger finished size, you will need to use a JigBoard 2000 for a 1000 piece puzzle like this one.
I’d rate this a moderate difficulty puzzle. It was nice to have something a little more challenging, and it was never frustrating.
The thing that makes it a little more challenging are the repeating elements. I did the border first, which is one of the hardest parts of the puzzle.
Assembled the border. The large border has more repeating elements than anywhere else in the puzzle. There are quite a few blue diamonds and the gold leaves in the corners are all similar. I assembled the blue diamonds separately and then figured out which blue diamond went where based on the adjoining pieces and the outer red edge. The outer red edge is of different thicknesses on the various sides of the puzzle, which helps to place the main border (using the red tips as a guide).
The inner border has a gold braid and then a red/gold repeating motif all the way around. I thought that inner border would be the toughest thing because it really has no variation. But it actually wasn’t hard because the outer edge varies quite a bit in terms of how much it crosses into the black parts of the main border. So I just focused on fitting the ‘black tips’ into the outer border I’d already assembled. With this approach, the inner border assembled itself.
After the border, I worked on the flowers in the center of the image and, as an extension of that, the easiest parts of the cat like its ears, eyes, and white toes.
The flowers have very distinctive colors and patterns, so they’re pretty easy. However, one thing I particularly liked was that most of the flowers appeare 2-3 times within the ‘bouquet’. So you could assemble several “red/blue irises” and then figure out which one went where in the overall composition. There were also a number of white daisies and white lilies-of-the-valley strands. The green leaves weren’t really an issue since just doing the flowers filled in most of the leaves by default.
The final part of the puzzle was finishing up the cat fur and then doing the wallpaper background. The cat fur is distinctive in color and texture and there is enough variation within it (like the whiter bits in the ears and on the mouth and neck) that it’s not difficult.
The wallpaper is a semi-repeating pattern with all the blue leaves. However, there’s enough distinctive areas within it — like the red and yellow flowers, the red and orange birds, the flower buds, the orange lily, etc, that it wasn’t very hard.
There’s some tan-and-aqua floor tile under the cat which makes that part of the puzzle easy to identify.
I really enjoyed assembly on this one and I would do the other cat puzzles in this series right away if I didn’t have lots of other puzzles in my queue! I’ve rated assembly a 9.
White Mountain’s “Tapestry Cat” is a fun and challenging puzzle with moderate difficulty. The image by artist Lewis T. Johnson has bright colors and a lovely hand-drawn art style. Big bold elements–such as the large border, the Morris-esque wallpaper background, the cat, and the floral bouquet inside the cat–make separate distinctive areas to assemble. Repeating elements within the border (like the blue diamonds) and within the floral bouquet (for example, white daisies) make the puzzle more challenging but never frustrating. The White Mountain quality is good with larger pieces and a random cut. The final puzzle has a flat, smooth finish that allows you to see the art rather than the jigsaw cut. The finish is glossy, so there is some glare under bright lights. Highly recommended!
Where to find:
Click below to see the puzzle on Puzzle Warehouse. This puzzle is 30% off throughout August 2016.
OTHER PUZZLES IN THIS SERIES:
“PAINTED CAT”, 1000 pieces, also at Puzzle Warehouse and 30% off (click below)
“TROPICAL CAT” by White Mountain (currently out of print)
“CATS GALORE” by White Mountain (currently out of print)