1 Puzzle Uniquely Mine
The Closed Box was designed by Christoph Lohe (who has a few rather interesting designs on Ishino's site) and I drooled at it when Jakub published the photo on his Facebook page. They teased me on Facebook because I am famous for either breaking things and also for not collecting puzzle boxes. I absolutely love the boxes but daren't start buying them for fear of losing all of my income as well as my house and wife! Whack! Ouch! Sorry dear - I really am being good! I only buy boxes that have some other puzzling element to them. I get my box 'fix' at puzzle parties and was relieved to find out that the Closed box is a box only in name!
My version is a 6cm cube and made of Wenge and Maple and it comes with a gorgeously made stand. It is so beautifully made that you actually can not see which pieces are fixed and which pieces can move. The stand is so accurately made that the corners are actually needle sharp! In reality, it is not a box; it is a 3 piece burr in a cage. For such a low number of pieces it has a lovely challenge to it with a level of 15.6.2 - definitely not particularly tough but a nice logical puzzle to solve. After scrambling the pieces, the reassembly is also eminently doable even for a puzzle idiot like me. The workmanship is stunning and certainly good enough for Mrs S to allow it on display in the living room. Whack! Ouch! Sorry dear I thought you had noticed! If you prefer a lighter colour then a photographic negative is available too.
|Simple pieces yet a real challenge|
The Vauban H5 took me more than 2 hours to solve - there are quite a few blind ends and some of the moves are very well hidden. At the end I had just 4 beautiful pieces:
|Four lovely pieces|
"The Vauban H5 is a masterpiece of design by Stephan - an extremely complex puzzle despite being composed of only 4 pieces. During the solve, the pieces dance back, forth, up and down and around each other multiple times before the first piece comes out almost by surprise. The pieces slide perfectly smoothly across each other because of the perfect finish and very slight bevel placed on the edges. The puzzle will definitely have repeatability because despite having dismantled it, I have only the vaguest recollection of the sequence. I love it! thank you for making this so beautifully."I absolutely love this puzzle - it has a lot to discover and I am a long way from mastering it - I certainly cannot yet reassemble it without Burrtools. The prices are great value and Jakub is a delight to do business with - go ahead and buy these - you won't be disappointed. I do pay for my puzzles and am always very happy to do so.
My second fabulous craftsman is relatively unknown. Johan Heyns, from South Africa, does not make puzzles for sale - he only makes them for his own enjoyment and I have been drooling over the puzzles on his Facebook page for a long time. A couple of years ago I borrowed from my friend Steve a copy of the Really Bent Board Burr (RBBB) designed by my other genius puzzle friend Derek Bosch. I had it sitting in my living room for about 3 months and completely failed to solve it (despite it being only a level 20.10.2). I have been desperate to obtain a copy of this puzzle ever since I gave it back to Steve but it is extremely rare and I have actually never seen it come up for sale.
Over a couple of years I have got to know Johan and we chat on Facebook messenger periodically. I had, of course, particularly drooled over his own copy of the RBBB (to you medics that's not a Right Bundle Branch Block) - he taunted me that one day he might consider making one for me. I was hopeful for a while and then I just forgot about it. Imagine my amazement a few weeks ago when he said he had a parcel for me and needed my home address - a picture was posted on Facebook too. This arrived in the post a few weeks ago:
|RBBB on its' stand|
Johan is convinced that his skills are not adequate for commercial production! He contacted me today to tell me that and to ask what I really thought about the puzzle. I nearly choked!!! It is true he is an amateur BUT the workmanship in this puzzle (and in the others I have seen on his FB page) is incredible! It is beautifully made, very stable and the pieces all move perfectly smoothly. There is a small chance that he may begin to work commercially and I would like to encourage him to do so - if this is anything to go by then he will make a lot of money in this market! He also threw in a little freebie for me in the package - an interlocking 3x3 cube designed originally by Stewart Coffin made from Wenge. Like all the puzzles Johan produces, he says that they are incomplete without a stand and even the stand exhibits stunning joinery skills:
|Beautifully bevelled and there's even dowels in the stand|
My final designer today is the incredible Brian Menold who is now a full time puzzle maker at Wood Wonders Online. He is currently writing a book on puzzle making in wood and that has slowed down his puzzle production. But he still manages to come out with some masterpieces every few months which I cannot resist.
|Quadrox Pieces - Simple yet fun|
If anyone has any idea who the designer is then please contact me or leave a comment below. I really would love to disassemble this but am terrified of getting lost in a very high level solution. Any assistance would be appreciated.
The Pelikan puzzle that I gushed about and which sold out soon afterwards was the Optiborn puzzle designed by Stéphane Chomine. Brian still has one or two copies of these remaining for sale on his site - I can definitely vouch that it is a fabulous design and Brian's work will NOT disappoint you. Buy it from here.