Bee Farm

Bee Farm by Tom Wood – SunsOut – 300 pieces

There’s something about this image. I don’t know why, but it’s just compelling. I’m not much of a SunsOut fan, but when I saw this puzzle at the thrift store I had to get it.

The puzzle itself was good quality, I loved the random cut pieces – it’s a nice change from grid cut. It takes a few minutes for my brain to catch up and remember how to look at the pieces and see how they could fit together; but it’s nice to switch things up and keep my gray matter on it’s toes, so to speak. The fit was on the loose side, but it’s a pre-loved puzzle and that’s to be expected sometimes.

The assembly didn’t take very long, and the most difficult part was the two beehives. I enjoyed it very much and it was completely worth the $1.99 I spent on it. Excellent image by Tom Wood, and it made for a great afternoon of puzzling.

If My People…

If My People
If My People by Jack E. Dawson – Sunsout – 500 pieces

This image is fabulous, but unfortunately the quality of the puzzle didn’t match. This puzzle had the thinnest pieces I’ve ever seen from Sunsout – it almost felt like a Cardinal puzzle from the dollar store. The fit wasn’t great either. In addition, a missing piece and two pieces that had been chewed by a pet or a child. Why would someone donate a puzzle like that? I don’t get it.

The image of hands repairing a battle-worn American flag is absolutely beautiful, and I truly wish it had been licensed to a company with better quality. That seems harsh, and it is; but this is my blog – about the puzzles I do and my opinions about them. That is my opinion.

Even for Sunsout this was terrible quality. Thin, bendable pieces and a bad fit made it less than pleasurable to work with. I finished it because my mom bought it, we both adored the image, and I wanted to see it through for her. If those things weren’t attached to it I’m not sure I would have kept going with such a terrible quality puzzle.

The artwork was painted after the 9-11 attacks and inspired by a Bible verse from 2 Chronicles. It contains hidden images; of the twin towers with rising smoke, of evil, of someone praying, and more. They were hard to find in the reproduced image, and even harder to photograph so that I could show you here. You can see, even without a closeup, the nail imprint on the left hand showing that it is Jesus mending the flag. If you’d like to see all of the hidden images you can check out the artist’s website which shows each hidden image and its meaning. (As a side note, the box this puzzle came in had absolutely no information about this artwork, the hidden images, or the artist).

This was a thrift store purchase, so as happens sometimes my puzzle had a couple of issues – the obvious missing piece in the flag, and the fact that someone or something used a couple of the pieces as a chew toy. Missing pieces happen, it isn’t a big deal to me. The chewed up pieces annoy me though. If you’re donating puzzles and you know a couple of pieces are chewed up – just don’t donate. Again, this is just my opinion.

If My People 1

These two pieces look relatively alright here, but they were mangled and I had to work to get them back in the right shape and fitted together. You can see the creases in the pieces to show how bent they were. Annoying.

Great image, terrible quality – it seems like I say that about Sunsout puzzles quite a bit, doesn’t it? They’ve been added to my boycott list along with Ceaco, it just isn’t worth the frustration for me. I need to be strong and resist the temptation when I see a fabulous image from a company that doesn’t have good quality. Sounds simple, but it’s not always easy for me to resist a beautiful image, I must admit. I’m a bit of a puzzle junkie.

Shocked? I know, right?! ūüėá

Review: Fresh Picked Flowers

Fresh Picked Flowers
Fresh Picked Flowers by Jane Maday – Sunsout – 500 pieces

The beautiful, bright colors of this image made this puzzle so much fun; and the quality was so much better than the previous Sunsout puzzle that I assembled. Don’t you love it when a puzzle is so much better than you anticipated? I do!

The last Sunsout puzzle I assembled – Rainy Day Sketch – was purchased at the same time, from the same store. The difference in quality between the two was striking – and that is NOT a good thing. When you don’t know for sure what you’re going to get, it makes it difficult to trust that you’re getting your money’s worth. I’m not a fan of having to guess or gamble when it comes to the quality of the puzzles I buy.

Fresh Picked Flowers had very good quality, in fact I was surprised at how good. Having had a much different experience with the previous Sunsout puzzle, I was dreading this one a little bit thinking it would be equally as disappointing. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case! This puzzle had thick pieces with a very good variety of shapes, and a truly wonderful fit. As you can see the reproduction is bright and crisp, with clean lines – it was a joy to work with.

Fresh Picked Flowers 1

For some reason the dullest colored thing in the puzzle, this brown bird (I have no idea what species this is), was one of the things I really enjoyed putting together. For some reason I can’t really express this bird was lovely to assemble.

Fresh Picked Flowers 2

This bowl of cherries is bright and fun, and was really challenging too. When I look at it the first thing that comes to mind is Erma Bombeck; she was a humorist and columnist that I used to really enjoy reading when I was younger. I’m sure if I had one of her books here now it would still make me laugh. She had a book entitled “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?” and it seems to pop into my brain whenever I see this.

The artwork by Jane Maday made for an excellent puzzling experience, and the quality of the puzzle itself was wonderful to work with. If only all Sunsout puzzles could be this good! If by some miracle you find this puzzle out there, it’s definitely recommended. I loved it. ūüíĖ

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Fresh Picked Flowers
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Jane Maday
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Sunsout
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†500 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 18 x 24 in. (46 x 61 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† New

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Average
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†Small amount
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Random cut
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†Very good variety
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish, lays flat

Overall Rating:      Very good, recommended

Fresh Picked Flowers In Progress

Fresh Picked Flowers IP
Fresh Picked Flowers by Jane Maday – Sunsout – 500 pieces

I have to say I’m having a much better time with this Sunsout puzzle than I did with the last one I assembled. This one has larger pieces, and the quality of the fit is so much better than the last one. Fit makes all the difference!

It’s been going together very quickly; I’m loving the bright colors, the beautiful image, and the random cut that keeps things interesting. It’s one of those puzzles that’s hard for me to walk away from – which means it should be done very soon.¬† ūüćí

That’s part of the reason that I usually only purchase Sunsout puzzles second-hand, the quality is hit or miss. Sometimes you get a great puzzle like this one, and sometimes you get quality like I had on Rainy Day Sketch. I don’t like to gamble on whether or not the puzzle I buy will be good quality, and for me Sunsout puzzles are a gamble.

This puzzle perfectly demonstrates that premise. I bought the two puzzles – Fresh Picked Flowers and Rainy Day Sketch – at the same time, at the same store; it turned out 50/50, I got one good one and one bad one. They were both 500 piece puzzles, why such a difference in the way they fit together? Get it together Sunsout!

Review: Rainy Day Sketch

Rainy Day Sketch
Rainy Day Sketch by Tricia Reilly-Matthews – Sunsout – 500 pieces

I was quite disappointed in the quality of this puzzle, particularly the fit. Even though it’s adorably cute, it wasn’t enough to make up for pieces that seem to fit where they do not belong and a mushy feel that doesn’t let you know whether or not you’ve got the right piece. The image is great, the rest of this puzzle – not so much.

Sunsout is one of those companies whose puzzles can range from excellent to poor quality; you never seem to know what you’re going to get. Because of that I normally do NOT purchase this brand retail, but I admit to buying this and one other Sunsout puzzle last month in an attempt to stock up a bit before….well, you know.

I’ve done several puzzles with artwork by Tricia Reilly-Matthews, and they’re always sweet and cute, she captures the innocence of childhood and it makes for beautiful puzzles – that must be why I caved and bought the two puzzles. If it weren’t for the quality, it would have been quite an entertaining assembly. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, image-wise, but the challenge kept me on my toes.

The way jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together is one of the most important aspects of quality, and when it is lacking it makes for an assembly experience that is less than optimal. It was an extremely frustrating assembly that might otherwise have been entertaining. Even with chipboard that was a good thickness, a good variety of piece shapes and lovely image reproduction, the poor fit negated most of the pluses and I am not recommending this puzzle.

Usually what I tell myself is that it won’t happen again. That the next time I’m in a store near the puzzles I will remember my bad experience with this brand and will not buy any of their puzzles. The problem is that the brand isn’t consistent with it’s quality and I always want to believe that the puzzle I want to buy is going to be one of the good ones; sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t. Did I learn my lesson this time? Only time will tell.

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Rainy Day Sketch
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Tricia Reilly-Matthews
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Sunsout
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†500 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 19 x 19 in. (48 x 48 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† New

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Good
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Good/Fair
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Average
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Poor
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†Large amount
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Grid cut – offset
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†Good variety
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish, lays flat

Overall Rating:      Fair/Poor, not recommended

*These days finding any jigsaw puzzle in stores or online is almost a miracle, so if you find this puzzle out there you have to take my recommendation with a grain of salt. All reviews are only opinions; my puzzle and my opinion of it might differ from yours. So if you come across this one and you’re out of puzzles….you do what’s best for you.