Okay, I’ve seen tutorials on altering individual puzzle pieces and even on altering whole puzzles – but, they alter one piece at a time (though usually all to a theme) and then put them back together. But each piece is it’s own little artwork.
I wanted to try something different. So I decided to make an altered puzzle to be sent as a letter. The recipient will have to put the puzzle together to read it. This meant that the design was going to encompass the entire puzzle, not just each piece individually with an overall theme.
Materials: puzzle to alter, pencil, acrylic craft paints, marker for writing the letter at the end (Sharpie works well), things to embellish the puzzle pieces (rubber stamps and ink, markers, stickers, collage pictures, rhinestones, etc.)
This tutorial takes you up to the point just before I wrote my ‘letter’ on the puzzle with Sharpie. Hope someone has fun with this idea!
First, get an inexpensive puzzle – if you are going to send it as a letter, take the size of the puzzle into account unless you plan to mail it in a box. [You could wrap the original box and mail it, I suppose....] I got a pair of 50 piece kids puzzles from the $1 store – Care Bears. No offence to Care Bears fans, but I’m not fond of them. Too sugary sweet. Here are the puzzles before I altered one:
The first thing you want to do is sand the front of the puzzle lightly to make sure the paint will adhere easily. Then carefully turn the puzzle over (a few pieces at a time is how I did it – pull the pieces, flip them, and then reconnect them face down). Number the pieces in pencil. This is important because once you paint all the pieces with your base coat you will have to put the puzzle together again.
Okay, now that your pieces are sanded and numbered, take the puzzle apart. Paint each individual piece seperately with your chosen base color(s). I decided to use white paint. The reason you have to take them apart is because if you do this with them together, they will stick together. If that’s what you want, so be it; but I wanted the recipient to have to put the puzzle together when they got it. So…
Okay, after the paint is dry, put your puzzle back together. (Aren’t you glad you numbered the pieces on the back?) Don’t worry if the pieces don’t fit as well because of the paint on them – will deal with that shortly. Then sketch out your basic design over the whole thing with pencil. It’s hard to see, but I sketched waves at the bottom, and clouds above. Where a piece wasn’t supposed to stay white, I put a little letter (or letters) on the area to be painted to tell me what color to paint it. The acrylic paints cover up the pencil marks, so the cheater letters won’t show.
Okay, now take the puzzle apart and paint in the other colors. Let it dry again. Now that we are done painting large amounts, we can fix that bad fit problem. If you look at the sides of your pieces, you will see where the paint overflowed the edge. Sometimes this will keep the pieces from fitting properly back together, so scrape the edge of your pieces with a paring knife, or scissors to fix it.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly done – just enough so that the pieces fit together with reasonable ease. Don’t want the recipient to get too fustrated putting it together.
Put the puzzle back together again, and finish decorating it. I colored on it with marker, stamped on it with a rubber stamp (which overlaped three or four pieces), and then added stickers. I had to be careful with the stickers because they had to be in the middle of a piece so the puzzle could be taken apart. (My puzzle pieces were small so I had to use small stickers.) You could also paste pictures and things to pieces (you will have to cut the pictures apart if they over lap more than one piece though). Be creative! Be sure to leave blank space to write your note (Unless the design itself is the note…)
Well, I’m not a great artist by any means. But it was fun, and I hope the person I send it to will be amused by it. I’m sure your puzzle will be even lovelier.
Be sure to be prepared to pay extra postage to mail it though, and be sure to erase the numbers on the backs of the pieces so the recipient can’t cheat putting it together.
Hope you have fun altering a puzzle!