Black and White Extravaganza
The rains have begun here in the PNW and usually, my tastes veer to the colorful, just to make up for the lack there of. This year has been particularly jarring because we had warm, sunny weather for well into October when suddenly, the carpet was pulled out from underneath us and the seasonal cold and wet set in. Fall had arrived. Apparently, my puzzling proclivities didn’t get the memo, because the other week, during our first major storm of the season, I found a colorless puzzle on my table. My puzzling friends on Instagram wished me much luck, as they had tackled this puzzle as well and it had proved to be a bit on the spicy side. With that warning, I hitched up my big girl pants and got to work.
The puzzle in question is the work of none other than Shelley Davies, she of collage queendom, artist of the legendary Rainbow Collection from Cobble Hill Puzzles. If you’ve never heard of it, The Rainbow Collection is a series of 7 collage puzzles, each one depicting items composed of varying shades of one color. It really is a stunning collection, especially when you see them all laid end to end. Although Black and White: Animals is well, black and white, I think it is still considered part of the Rainbow Collection. It absolutely gets my vote, so I say it’s in!
Cobble Hill is a brand that I love and always come back to. Their puzzles have a lovely anti-glare linen finish and they are random cut, which is my favorite type.
I’m not going to lie, I was super intimidated when I first looked at this puzzle. There might be a tiny pop of color here and there, but 99.999% of it is black, white or gray. I am all about color, big, bold and bright, so I was entirely out of my comfort zone here. I had no idea how I was even going to start piecing this one together. I started with what I was comfortable with and began to sort the edges. If you’ve been reading my articles for a bit, you know that edges are as much as I will sort. Besides, the patterns were so varied, the color so lacking, how would I even group them? After I finished with the edges, I will admit, I sat there for a while staring at the image, trying to get ideas. I decided to work with what color was available. I pulled out pieces of whatever color that I could find and pieced those together.
Now that I had picked out all the pieces with color, I focused on patterns. There were a few areas on the puzzle that had large patterns; the word boxes for example. I focused on those and when I was done, I started pulling out pieces that had similar patterns. I’ll just say that there are a lot of zebras in this puzzle. I felt like I was putting zebras together for the bulk of this puzzle! You guys like zebras? This puzzle is for you. You want more zebras? Here’s a 1000 piece from Maddcapp. Zebras for daaaays. But I digress.
I Am Zebra | Madd Capp | 1000 pieces
So, when we last left off, I was painstakingly looking for micro patterns. Anything similar that I could find in any of the pieces. I couldn’t think of any other way to complete this puzzle. I literally sifted through all the pieces, looking for matching patterns. I used the included poster a lot.
Some people pride themselves in not using the image, me, I love included posters. The posters and I are besties. I’m a lookie-loo from way back when. I would pick a smidge of a pattern, look at the image and then search for another smidge.
Bit by bit, the puzzle began to fill in. I know that this sounds like the most tedious puzzle ever, but it was the exact opposite. I finished the puzzle in two days and it went by in the blink of an eye. I should never have doubted the Queen of Collage, Shelley’s puzzles are always a blast. Putting together her puzzles is like diving into an entirely different universe, and each puzzle piece is a wonder to look at. Every now and then, Shelley will post a video or picture of her process and it is just amazing to see it. Am I saying to definitely try at least one Shelley Davies puzzle? Yes. Yes I am.
This past week, I totally stepped out of my comfort zone and completed a puzzle that scared the heck out of me. Scientists talk about an “a-ha” moment, where you solve something hard, or figure something out and your brain just dumps dopamine all over you. That’s how I felt after completing this puzzle. So why not try a puzzle that makes you a little nervous? It might be one of the best puzzles you’ve ever done!