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Puzzle Warehouse

Organic Things Presented in Geometric Ways

Hello there! I’ve been acquiring quite a few puzzles to prepare for the USA JPA Nationals, so I’ve been spending extra time on the Warehouse website. I’m noticing several puzzles that take an organic subject matter and present it in a geometric way. Just follow me down this hexagonal rabbit hole for a moment, since this appeals to my general desire to create order out of chaos, and from the perspective of a puzzler, it’s more than a bit meta. These puzzles take a subject matter that is natural, wild, and free, and constrain it to a rigid, human-made aesthetic. Or for those of you who grew up in the 80s: some puzzles put Baby in a corner.

For example, take this tantalizingly named Animal Grid puzzle.

Animal Grid puzzle

Animal Grid by Buffalo Games

What better way to celebrate the natural world than skinning it, laying it flat, trimming it into neat rectangles, and lining it up in tidy rows? Fortunately for us, the folks at National Geographic thought so, too. If you’re into “educational experiences” or “learning about our world,” you can check out the insert, which shows which animal goes with which close-up texture. And if not, you can use the paper for quilling.

Speaking of pointy things, have you ever wondered how many corners a bird has or whether a fawn can fit its whole body behind a fire hydrant and why would it want to? This Charley Harper Biodiversity in the Burbs puzzle by Pomegranate attempts to tackle both of those questions and more.

Biodiversity in the Burbs puzzle

Biodiversity in the Burbs by Pomegranate

It also explores how many animals can stare dead on (from the front end and the behind end) at a person before one becomes unnerved (4) and what is the best way for a goldfinch to ride a flamingo (atop the head, side-saddle instead of the other way, surprisingly). I must admit that I can’t get enough of Charley Harper puzzles, possibly because they combine several of my great loves: birds, mid-century modernism, and vertical striping. An then there is El Gato, also a Pomegranate puzzle.

El Gato Puzzle

El Gato by Pomegranate 

This gato looks like he’s been getting real judgy, and when he’s done using The Force on those squares, he will tell you about it. This mixed-media artwork reminds me of how Mr. Ambassador is always telling me to stop mixing my media, but I can’t help but shoot for the moon and back.

And that brings me to our last piece – this Colors of the Moon puzzle by Galison, one of my favorite puzzle makers. 

Colors of the Moon

Colors of the Moon by Galison

Technically, this is not so much an organic subject matter as it is a part of our natural world, but it is repeated over and over in a geometric pattern. But this puzzle is a solid reminder of how, as human beings, we are inherently duty-bound to be awed by the moon, a thing that most of the time just sits there quietly. 

Think of it this way: If I were to show up twice a month every now and again, I’d be “unreliable.” If I were to stand in front of the sun for an hour every few years, I’d be “blocking the light.” And if I were to appear 14% larger than my usual self while at the perigee of my orbit, I’d be confused and wondering how to get home. But the moon does all of these things and folks write poems that usually mention June, talk excitedly in the breakroom, and create jigsaw puzzles in honor of its straight-up, communally-agreed-upon awesomenity.

I guess some of these uniquely geometric but organic puzzles leave me a bit…puzzled. Of course, they are still fun, and since “puzzled” is my default state, I’m able to roll with the pieces. Or as Mr. Ambassador would warn against saying: it’s a bit like that goldfinch, taking the nearest flamingo by the horns and riding side-saddle to the beat of its own heart.


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Lisa J. - Windermere, FL

I always get a chuckle out of your sense of humor! Gotta love how much of a fawn fits behind a fire hydrant!

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