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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Marriage of a Great Design with Great Craftsmanship ‒ Bouquet





Bouquet by Christoph LoheWhen I saw Bouquet, my heart beat a little faster and said “buy, Buy, BUY”.  My wallet said “Whoa Cowboy, puzzles don’t grow on trees you know.  Do you really need another Christoph Lohe puzzle or another puzzle made by Brian Menold?”  What a stupid question!  Of course I do!  And puzzles do come from trees, so there.

I first saw Bouquet at this year’s Rochester Puzzle Picnic (A Decade of Puzzling - RPP 2019).  I only spent a few minutes with it as the event was wrapping up and failed to purchase a copy from Brian before he left.  I’m fairly certain that there aren’t many puzzlers out there that have not regretted passing on an opportunity to acquire a puzzle.  After returning home, I realized what a horrible mistake I made and immediately contacted Brian to acquire a copy.  Luckily, there was one still available.

I really enjoy Christoph Lohe’s designs and have twice in the past selected one of his designs for my top 3 puzzle acquisitions of the year.  Tulip made by Cubicdissection in 2015 and Mimicry made by Pelikan in 2016.  This year it looks like it will include Bouquet made by Brian Menold at Wood Wonders.

Bouquet PiecesNot only is Bouquet a beautiful puzzle, it’s an excellent puzzle.  Brian made several different versions of wood combinations and the one that I chose was made with a Wenge frame and Maple and Paduak pieces.  I thought that this color combination enhanced the image of a flower.  I know that the name is Bouquet but it reminds me more of a corsage with the 2 colors used for the pieces.

This puzzle has a 23.3.5.3.3 level of difficulty.  Taking it apart is not difficult and was a lot of fun figuring out how to manipulate the pieces and remove them from the frame.  It’s amazing how such an open frame can hold the pieces for so many moves.  There is a lot of empty space in the center of the puzzle allowing for a lot of movement of the pieces.  As a general rule, I try not to pay too much attention when taking a burr apart so that I can enjoy it more when putting it back together.

To thoroughly enjoy the assembly process, I left the pieces sitting around for a couple of months before attacking the reassembly.  When I pulled them off the shelf, my initial reaction was that maybe I made a mistake.  I wasn’t sure how the pieces sat in the frame and I had to resist the urge to look at an online picture of the puzzle.  As daunting as it initially looked, it didn’t take long to figure out.  Now all that was left was to figure out which piece go where, what order to add them, and how to move them.  Oh, and its going to take about 23 moves to add that last piece in.

The first thing to realize is that 3 of the pieces are right-handed and the other 3 are left-handed.  This is easy to track in the 2-color version since all the right-handed pieces are one color and all the left-handed pieces are the other color.  For versions that use 6 different types of woods, you have to work a little harder to keep track of them.

Bouquet in ProgressFor some puzzles with a frame, it is easiest to determine how the pieces are oriented with each other before inserting them within the frame.  This is not one of those.  For me, the best way to tackle this puzzle was to add pieces to the frame one at a time using the frame to hold them in place.  As each new piece gets added, you have to figure out how to manipulate the other pieces to get the new piece in.  Along the way, you may have to reorient a piece or switch the locations of some pieces.  This process is not as bad as you may think since 2 of the Maple pieces are identical and the 3 Paduak pieces are similar to each other. 

I was able to get 5 pieces in fairly quickly, but the last one eluded me.  I had already discovered how the pieces could be manipulated to that last one through the heart of the puzzle if I could only get it started.  I was even able to pull another piece out and test that process.  I just couldn’t figure out how to get both those pieces in at the same time.  Obviously, neither of these pieces were the last to go in and it took some more experimenting to determine which piece that was.  It turned out that the last piece to be added was the one that I put in third and the second to last one was the one I put in first.

This puzzle is another masterful design from Christoph Lohe and I thoroughly enjoyed the solving process.  It generated a great feeling of satisfaction and confirmed that some of the pistons in my old clunker of a brain are still firing.  I’m really glad to add this masterpiece from Wood Wonders to my collection.

Bouquet with Wood Wonders Logo

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