jigsaw puzzle

halfway through drawing the jigsaw puzzle
The finished jigsaw puzzle
black and white detail of the finished jigsaw puzzle

It's not really the apocalypse if we're making money, right?

about 1/2 done drawing the jigsaw puzzle drawing in my studio
The jigsaw puzzle was one of those very rare, and gloriously fast projects.
Usually EVERYTHING I build takes at least a year to put together. I'm a glacier mated with a snail. But I had an exhibition coming up at the Burlington City Arts Centre in Vermont called Break it! Build it! So, in a moment of terrible literal-mindedness, and at the last minute, I decided a giant, wooden jigsaw puzzle would be the perfect thing: A cross between a toddler's building blocks and a drawing.

wooden jigsaw puzzle process
detail of the bare wood after cutting

I drew a template on a piece of graph paper and then roughly scaled it up to fit on pine slabs left-over from a contract job I'd just finished. I drew the shapes out with a sharpie, bought a bunch of new blades for my jigsaw, a dust mask and started cutting.
The end result was sort of minimal and perfect after I'd sanded it all down. I almost left it. I assumed that the pieces wouldn't fit well since it was hand-made but, surprisingly, they're almost perfect thanks to the fact that I kept switching blades. Smooth wood is my favorite drawing surface, cheap blue legal-pads are my second, polished gesso my third (fake, I've never boiled a rabbit, I would love to do it one day). I loved the physicality of it, having to sprawl across with tiny brushes and climb up on a ladder just to be able to see it.
A note on materials: I tried using real silver-leaf for the first time and it drove me a little crazy, so light! The stuff just blew off my gloves! The working time was short, and I set timers so I didn't lose track of time.
I was re-building the brain at the same time and it was chaos having dirty metal and graphite next to clean silver and graphite. Especially in my filthy studio. I splurged and got some nice powdered pigments and methyl cellulose at . I'd actually never walked into the Montréal store, though I used to order from them when I worked in the office of an art supply wholesaler. Gorgeous stuff that made me remember when I lived in Banff and still painted all the time. Though, back then I bought my sacks of expensive powder from I couldn't afford nice brushes. I still can't. But, after selling real sable and foot-long japanese ink brushes it's hard to forget.
It was easier just stealing squeegies from gas stations.
I'm still a bit embarrassed about the idea of showing drawings or paintings. Drawing is connected to thought but it lapses into being incoherent and flippant and private. In my mind it's all process, it's all organization, it's the jangled bits that cohere? It feels terrible to hang that out.
The process was super-fast. From the first sketch to the final polish it only took a couple of weeks and some very long, long, summer days. jigsaw puzzle installed at the Burlington City Arts Centre in Vermont. In the end, I should've stopped a few days before I did, I don't like the end result. It's slightly over-worked.

I'm thinking of sanding sections back down to bare wood.
But! It comes apart, stacks neatly and takes absolutely no space in my studio.
Which is much more than I can say for the robots!
The finished jigsaw puzzle installed at the Burlington City Arts Centre in Vermont.

The finished jigsaw puzzle

detail of the finished jigsaw puzzle In retrospect, I think I should've shown it in bits scattered around the floor with a space for people to pick the pieces up and try to actually put the puzzle together... you do need a rubber mallet to whack the final piece into place, but I could have hung one on the wall. I've got a couple extra (inherited).
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