Jigsaw Puzzles: Cheap and Challenging Entertainment

In an era when seeing a first-run movie can cost you $10 or more (and that doesn't even count the stale popcorn), thank goodness for inexpensive entertainment like jigsaw puzzles. For a few bucks, you can get hours' worth of amusement... and when you're done you end up with artwork, not just memories.

So today, let's reconsider the jigsaw puzzle's place in the family entertainment scenario.

Beneficial Shapes

Compared with a video game or a movie, puzzles offer darn good value, especially when you break down the price per hour. A 500-piece puzzle rarely costs as much as $10. Even if you're incredibly fast and get the puzzle done in three or four hours, that's about $3 per entertainment hour.

Now, suppose you got the puzzle for a buck at the dollar store. Not bad!

Not only are these puzzles good for the pocketbook, they keep your mind active, engaging the imagination without overtaxing the brain. They also offer an excellent way to practice coordination, as well as color/pattern matching. This is one reason why there are so many children's jigsaw puzzles.

There's also evidence that doing jigsaw puzzles later in life can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and similar forms of dementia.

Basic Background

You may be wondering what jigsaw puzzles have to do with jigsaws, which are a kind of woodworking tool. Well, originally, an artisan painted or printed a picture on a wooden panel, and then used a jigsaw to cut it up into the tessellated, interlocking pieces we all know and love.

Ancestral wooden jigsaw puzzles first appeared in England back in 1760. These days, they're mostly cardboard, and the pieces are stamped out using patterned steel blades resembling cookie cutters.

Artistic Inclinations

We've all got our little methods for putting together puzzle pieces, whether that involves matching up fragments of the image, fitting together the shapes of the individual pieces, or both. Some people feel it's cheating to look at the box while you do the puzzle, and that can in fact be a nice challenge.

But what do you do when you've got the whole puzzle complete, assuming none of the pieces has disappeared under the rug or down the cat? Many of us just pull it apart and put it away, but others consider that a waste of effort.

Fortunately, they also make puzzle glues that you can paint a puzzle with to hold it together as one piece. (You'll find the glue in the same place you find the puzzles, usually.) Then, once it's together, you can put it on the wall. Jigsaw puzzle pictures may not be high art, but can really brighten up the family room.

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