Everything about Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults

As busy mums, finding things that take our minds off the daily stresses of working from home can be hard. We encourage children to do them, but jigsaw puzzles for adults can provide us with just the perfect distraction. Jigsaws help us relax and reduce the stress levels we can be feeling.

Are jigsaws good for the brain?

Jigsaws puzzles are a mental exercise and are really good for the whole brain of everyone in the family, from children to the elderly for five reasons.

  1. Jigsaws help with visual-spatial reasoning and concentration
  2. Jigsaws help with problem-solving and reasoning abilities they also increase our attention to detail
  3. Jigsaws improve or strengthen our short-term memory
  4. A jigsaw will re-direct your brain from daily activates lifting our mood and decreasing our stress levels by thinking about finding the correct pieces to put the picture together.
  5. Studies at the University of Michigan have shown that people who spend 25 minutes a day doing puzzles have raised their IQ points by 4.

What is a jigsaw puzzle and what is it made from?Pink jigsaw puzzle pieces

A jigsaw puzzle is a picture that has been printed on cardboard or timber and cut into different shapes and pieces that requires you to fit them all together to make the whole picture.  They are fun to do and can be easy or quite challenging, the choice is yours.

Who invented jigsaw puzzles?

Around 1760 London mapmaker John Spilsbury, mounted a world map onto a piece of hardwood, cutting it into small pieces with a handsaw. He is said to be the inventor of jigsaws and made the first puzzle which was called a “dissected puzzle”.  The puzzles were made out of wood and it wasn’t until the 1880’s that the name was changed to jigsaw puzzles after the invention of the saw that was used to cut the pieces. How about that for a fun fact!

How to choose a jigsaw puzzle?Box cover picture of jigsaw puzzle with loose pieces

Choosing your jigsaw is a very personal thing.  Personally, I love pictures that excite me or I have some resonance with.  I like colours that are bright and pictures that inspire or bring back travel memories. A friend only likes to do puzzles that are black, white and shades of grey. As you can see it is a personal choice indeed

How many pieces of jigsaw puzzle should I choose?

The box of jigsaws gives you the size of the completed puzzle. You must look at this before purchasing your new puzzle. There is nothing worse than starting a puzzle and finding it doesn’t fit on your table.   Also, don’t take on a big puzzle if you don’t have time to spend finishing it. On average it takes 15-30 hours to complete a 1,000 piece puzzle.  If you think you can’t manage the puzzle, don’t choose it.  Better to achieve something than have to give in because it is too hard for you.

How do I know if it is an easy jigsaw puzzle?

Easy jigsaws have big areas of different colours, the more different colours the easier the puzzle.  If you have a puzzle with one, two or three main colours and different variations of that colour then it will be a difficult puzzle.  Black and white puzzles are extremely hard as you only have variations of grey to tell the pieces apart.

How much space do I need for a jigsaw puzzle?Sorting jigsaw puzzle pieces in a box

The key to doing a jigsaw is having lots of space to sort your colours out.  If you don’t have huge amounts of space, use serving or oven trays, a large biscuit or cookie tray is a great place to sort colours and the more trays you have the more colours you can sort through.  I even use the bottom of the box as a sorting area.  Trays can be put on top of the puzzle for safekeeping the puzzle, this keeps my cat from walking or jumping onto my puzzle.

Can lots of people do jigsaws?

Jigsaw puzzles can be a great family activity where everyone can spend time looking for pieces and working together.  They are also great for waiting rooms especially in hospitals or hospices, where the loved ones of patients can spend time taking their minds off what is happening around them.

Used jigsaw puzzles?  Should I buy them?

Personally, I would never buy a used jigsaw as you can never be guaranteed that all the pieces are there.  They are not expensive to purchase new and if you want you can always do them over and over again if you have enough in your collection, then you know that you put all the pieces back into the box.

How to do a jigsaw puzzle?Jigsaw puzzle of Shop partly completed

  • Make sure you have a flat space big enough for the puzzle and good lighting so you can see all the pieces
  • Go through the pieces turning them over so you can see the colours and find all edge pieces to do first.
  • Sort the pieces into different colours, patterns and types, put all the blue or sky pieces together, the green or grass pieces together, the yellow or wall pieces together, the grey or road colours together, etc. You may need to use serving or baking trays to keep the colours separate.
  • Putting the puzzle together.
    1. Always start with the outer edge of the puzzle and fill the middle in.
    2. Once the colours are sorted, see what pieces of similar colours you can put together.
    3. You may also be able to put major lines in the puzzle together too.
    4. Do the easiest parts and colours first

How do I make a jigsaw puzzle?

There are companies on the internet that will turn your precious photos into jigsaw puzzles.  You get to choose your favourite picture, choose the backing colour of the puzzle, the size of the puzzle, the number of pieces the puzzle will be and you can even choose to have the photo transferred to a box to store the puzzle in.  All this can be printed and posted back to you within a week. Have a look at this online printing site.

What do I do with my old used jigsaws?

If you have completed your jigsaw on a board that you don’t need and you want to keep the completed picture, you can varnish, or resin coat the top of the puzzle.  The glue will soak into the joins and onto the backing board so you will need several coats to fill the dips between the pieces. Alternatively you can take the completed puzzle and the back board to a picture framer. Alternatively,I have donated old puzzles to the palliative care hospital my mum was in.  I always appreciated having puzzles to do in the waiting rooms, so donated them my old ones.

What ever you do with your old puzzles, doesn’t really matter. Spending the time to complete them in the first place is the best investment you can spend on yourself.  Your own mental health and mental flexibility will certainly benefit. Too busy to go out to find a jigsaw? Have a Look on our Wonderful Things page – we can help


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