A puzzle for the beach

I finally finished my gift jigsaw puzzle:

I had made a bunch of smaller projects, proving each step of the process, and it looks good. I still have to “playtest” it by actually assembling it, I can probably do that this weekend when I visit my parents. They seem to like jigsaw puzzles.

I generated the template using Python and ReportLab to generate PDFs. I can go into the process if folks are interested, but the basic idea is to generate points and move them around randomly. Repeat. :slight_smile:

As a backing, I used matte (mat?) board that I got from the local framing store.

I generated the picture using a bunch of photos that I had taken and were scattered about at least 3 different social media / picture sites - that might have been the most painful part.

I took the PNG of the picture, sized to 16" x 10", on a thumb drive, to my local Kinkos/FedEx. The woman behind the counter was happy to print it to glossy cardstock for me.

Spray adhesive holds the picture to the backing really well.

One thing that I learned that I would pass on to other people generating cutting templates themselves (vs using, say, Inkscape): group your lines into paths, as much as possible.

puzzle_closeup_2017-10-03 22-52-47

You can see there the smoothness (and lack thereof) of the pieces I was cutting - each puzzle-piece-edge was made up of about 20 individual line segments, which I saved as an ungrouped soup of lines. Something like 500 edges in my puzzle, that’s around 10,000 individual segments.

I discovered that this is enough to cause the GlowForge processor to have problems.

I grouped the segments for each edge together, and the processor was much happier with my design. If I was to write the code again, I’d probably go for even bigger groups - each edge is part of a continuation that goes the full length or width of the puzzle, so I should really only have around 36 cuts, which the processor would have no problem with.


Sweet! :sunglasses:


Very nice job ! What settings did you use for cutting mat board (any charring issues?) . The only thing you may want to try next time (if being made as a gift) is put a unique piece near the center (or anywhere) in the puzzle. For example this collage, maybe a starfish or seashell shape (just hand modify a few pieces in inkscape) . Just an idea !


Great job. We are looking forward to making puzzles for gifts.

What do you think of the glossy cardstock? Wondering if it grabs fingerprints or not?

I understand that we’re not allowed to post settings for non-proofgrade here, so I’ll just say I ran hot and moderately fast. I haven’t seen any scorchmarks on the front surface, and the back looks pretty clean.

Yeah, I’m kind of in love with my process of letting the computer generate the designs and not doing much hand editing afterwards. I hadn’t thought of hand-editing a starfish into the template after the fact - especially since I was rewriting the code up until minutes before I started cutting.

I certainly could, and once I get more comfortable with using Inkscape as an artistic tool, maybe that won’t be a big deal.

Another approach would be to start with the handmade shapes, and build the rest of the template around them - it would require the code to grow the pieces a little like coral, which is again appropriate for this puzzle.


I like the look of the glossy cardstock - I hadn’t thought about the fingerprint issue, which is definitely the use case for a jigsaw puzzle. I’ll report back after assembling the puzzle myself and getting my grubby fingers all over all of the pieces.


Love this idea!


That’s impressive!! Dont forget to make a box for it!

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Yep, my plan is to get some more matte board from the framing store tonight and cut a box, then print out a smaller copy of the design for the outside of the box - just like a “real” puzzle.


They make a number of different aerosol and liquid finishes that you can apply to photographs to protect against scratches, UV light, fingerprints, etc. Should be able to find it at any hobby store.

I’ve used both liquid and aerosol. Liquid is much cheaper if doing in volume. Aerosol is easier to apply.