I finished my West Virginia map painting yesterday,
and this week, I’ll be sending a digital image of it
to a puzzle manufacturer in Kansas City, MO.
So far, this project
has taken me two months…
and with a gigantic smile on my face,
I’ll share what that has looked like.
The Making of a Puzzle
I started by drawing little sketches of places in WV
that I thought were cool or important,
like Babcock State Park.
I researched for photos and more special places
and found so many…
like Wonderment Puppet Theater in Martinsburg.
I reached out to FB friends for ideas, and
got a bunch, like Arthurdale near Morgantown.
When I wasn’t googling WV places,
my search focus was…
“Puzzle Manufacturers in the U.S.”
Very few puzzle makers fill large custom orders, so
finding the company that makes Springbok puzzles
was a game changer:
Now I knew I could really make a puzzle.
(This article with a video tells a little about them.)
With the size of the puzzle confirmed: 24″ x 30″,
I drew an outline of the state
for a painting 36″ x 45″,
which has the same aspect ratio 4:5,
and placed the sketches in the right spots (or close).
I found more places to fill in the gaps,
made the pencil sketches darker with marker,
and now it was time to get all of that on the canvas.
I had drawn everything on translucent tracing paper
so I could do the next few steps:
I attached the whole thing to the BACK of my canvas.
Then I placed that canvas over a homemade light box
kind of like this one:
The light shone through the tracing paper and canvas,
showing a faint image of all my drawings.
I worked on the floor,
moving my canvas around on the light box
(this was a very tricky balancing act),
as I redrew everything onto my painting surface.
Now I could start using paint!
With my laptop for online photo references of each place,
I painted for weeks.
A lot of the time I was concerned that
these random miniature paintings
would not become a cohesive unit,
but I persisted.
“You go, girl!,” I told myself.
and the support of family, friends, and FB friends
have been vital to this process.
Once the paintings and labels were complete,
I started on the title corner.
I used a playful font I “borrowed” from a greeting card,
and started adding the state symbols that
we’ve all heard about since elementary school,
But there was a problem:
my 20 yo son, Hunter, kept insisting that
I redo the West Virginia part of the title,
so I did.
The upper right corner was next,
and with lots of input from my FB collaborators,
the corner was completed.
The last part was the LEGEND corner with more state symbols,
like the black bear.
Have you ever seen or wanted to see
a black bear when you’re in the woods?
IMO…the state animal should be a squirrel or a dog.
But, of course, I LOVE our state bird the cardinal,
and I was super lucky to find this curious fellow:
And now he’s looking at the map:
I’m expecting the puzzles to be ready in May.
I’ll sell them from this website, my front porch,
local gift shops like Wildflower Gift Gallery, Red Caboose,
and other places all over the state (I’ll share those adventures here;)
Btw: the minimum order was 2000,
so there will be plenty of puzzles for EVERYONE!
In the meantime,
I’ll be designing some puzzle-related stuff,
like the puzzle box, and
learning tools (remember once a teacher always a teacher),
and I’ll be gardening.
Thanks for following along,