The Liljestrand House in Winter, 1860, 2022-12-06

It’s Independence Day in Finland today, so here’s a painting by Finnish 19th Century artist Magnus von Wright. This was a very pleasant assembly, and as with many older Tactic puzzles, the quality was excellent. The Christmas tree in the image looks like it’s on its way out, which would make this January 1860.

The Liljestrand House in Winter by Magnus von Wright, Tactic, 500 pieces. Completed on December 6, 2022.

The Garden of Death, 2022-10-13

This painting by Finnish artist Hugo Simberg from 1896 is one of my favourites! He actually did several versions of it, but the first was a small water colour, and I’m fairly sure this is from that painting, which is actually quite a bit smaller than the puzzle. I remember I had a post card of the painting as a teenager.

Simberg explained that the place pictured here is where souls go after death before they ascend to heaven. That probably means that the plants that the grim reapers are tenderly nursing are souls of the dead.

The Garden of Death by Hugo Simberg, Tactic, 1000 pieces. Completed on October 13, 2022.

This was one of the best Tactic puzzles I’ve ever done, it reminded me of Ricordi Arte, actually. And a good thing too, because otherwise, it could have been quite difficult. Now, it was just pleasantly challenging from start to finish. Loved it!

I drive, I come and I stay, 2022-10-05

This was the worst of the duck images! I felt slightly snow blind after finishing, and we haven’t even had the first snow in Helsinki yet. Somehow, the left part (both snow and sky) was easier than the right side. I had about a third of the pieces left when I sorted them by shape, but the shades of white helped a bit even after that. Also, the cut was excellent, with some distinct shapes that helped a lot. It was less painful than I expected it to be.

The duck in this painting looks happy and not at all cranky, and I also think it’s a female duck (has hair in a bun and wears a skirt).

I drive, I come and I stay by Kaj Stenvall, Tactic, 1000 pieces. Completed on October 5, 2022.

One final thing, the title. In Finnish, it’s an elaborate word game, because it has two different meanings. The Finnish title is “(Läpi) ajan, tulen ja jään”, and that can be translated either as “I drive (through), I come and I stay”, or as “Through time, fire and ice”. For the second meaning, you really need that word in parentheses.

American Light, 2022-10-01

Back to the Stenvall ducks! This is one of the very few Stenvall paintings with only an English title (most of them have Finnish titles as well). The image shows a cranky duck holding up a candle against a city with no lights. The sofa is covered with what looks like a combination of the US and Finnish flags – the stars in the US flag have been replaced with a Finnish flag. The painting is from 2003, which means this must be a reference to the Northeast blackout of 2003 – surely anything else would be too much of a coincidence. But I have no idea what – if anything – the artist is trying to say, and I also don’t understand what Finland has to do with the blackout.

American Light by Kaj Stenvall, Tactic, 1000 pieces. Completed on October 1, 2022.

This was the second time I’ve done this puzzle, I did it in 2017, and it was the first Stenvall puzzle I did. It was a few years later when I decided to collect all the puzzles. The puzzle quality is good, although the fit is quite loose, which I know many people dislike, but I don’t mind. No false fits, though!

[Old Ads], 2022-08-08

Prisma is a chain of hypermarkets in Finland, belonging to the S-group. They’ve recently put out a series of puzzles manufactured by Tactic. This is absolutely the best of the images, the others are black and white. The quality was also much better than I have seen from Tactic lately, no risk of placing a piece wrong, and the finish is very pleasant. I really don’t understand why Tactic keeps putting out subpar puzzles, they are clearly capable of doing much better.

[Old Ads], Tactic, 1000 pieces. Completed on August 8, 2022.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel my trip to Freiburg, because I got sick. Probably not Corona, the two tests I’ve done were negative, but still really annoying.

Miami, 2022-06-09

I love the image, but unfortunately, the quality was the worst I’ve seen from Tactic. The pieces are all of the basic shape with two tabs opposite, which I find boring. I wouldn’t have bought the puzzle if I’d known. Also, the fit was not good, in a few cases I had to use force to get pieces into their correct spaces. Very annoying. This puzzle is part of the Tactic Vintage Posters series, and they’ve released several sets in the series. The first was travel ads for Finland, and those were OK (I’ve only done one, still have four more to do), and then there’s the Art Deco set with at least this, one with New York and one with Italy. I have the New York one, and that seems to be the same as this. Bummer. On the bright side, the last set, from which I have two (Ancient Egypt and Space), seems to be all right. At least they have a good mix of piece shapes. It’s always annoying when you can’t trust a brand, and I find it especially unfortunate with Tactic, because it’s a Finnish brand, and I would love to suppport a local producer.

Miami, Tactic, 1000 pieces. Completed on June 9, 2022.

Some pieces ended up in my Roomba, and one of them was damaged:

For a while, I thought it was from a different puzzle 🙂 I’ve fished plenty of pieces out of my Roomba, but I’ve never seen one so damaged before.

Staged Happiness, 2022-04-22

I’m back in Helsinki, and I finished the puzzle that I started before my Easter break. Another Kaj Stenvall duck image, but this one wasn’t as much fun as the previous one. The cut is extremely boring, with only the basic piece shape with two tabs opposite, and I also managed to place some pieces wrong. I really hate it when I have to go back and take apart pieces that I already placed. Anyway, this should be the last of my Stenvalls with this boring cut. I’ve actually seen a photo of this puzzle, completed, with a different cut and some variety in piece shapes. I must say, I’m at least glad it was this puzzle, and not the white one that had the bad cut 🙂

Kaj Stenvall Collection: Staged Happiness by Kaj Stenvall, Tactic, 1000 pieces. Completed on April 22, 2022.

Towards the Captain’s Table, 2022-03-26

I finished it! Most of the time I prefer to do much easier puzzles, but I actually really enjoyed this. While the large majority of pieces were of the basic two tabs opposite-type, the actual cut was distinct enough to be a big help. There were tabs and holes of all sizes and shapes, and if there hadn’t been, this puzzle would not have been very enjoyable, brute-forcing 700 pieces isn’t much fun. Also, the pieces only fit where they belong, and many times I didn’t even need two points of contact. Of course, I was also prepared for it to be pretty slow, but still I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. There was a lot of fist-pumping and triumphant shouts while I was doing it 🙂 Next, I’m definitely going to do something easy and colourful!

Towards the Captain’s Table by Kaj Stenvall, Tactic, 1000 pieces. Completed on March 26, 2022.

Towards the Captain’s Table, In Progress & Shopping

I’ve now done all of the bits that are not 100% white. It’s slow, but not too frustrating. I might decide to take a break and do something a bit more colourful before I’m finished with this.

I recently found a new Finnish online toy store, Lelukatti, with a pretty good selection of puzzles, and since they had a sale on, I went a bit wild:

They also sent me some chocolate with the puzzles, a very nice touch!

Towards the Captain’s Table, Starting

There are two puzzles in the Kaj Stenvall collection that are mostly white, and this is the easier one of those two. I pulled the edge pieces, and I’ll start with that. Usually I save the edges for when I’m unsure what to do next (or for the very end if there’s a border), but that point came really early with this one. Wish me luck, and don’t expect to hear from me for a while!