Here’s how to make a puzzle yourself, with a blank white puzzle kit. These are very meaningful gifts you can make for someone. The activities group on our campus has made these many times for people here, especially on their birthdays. (They make wonderful, giant “cards”). And everyone can sign them on the back.
You can get the blank puzzle formats at almost any craft store, or order them online (you can just google “blank puzzle”). They come in different sizes and number of pieces, so you can make them according to the person you’re giving them to. Some are just 9 or 12 large pieces, some are over 100. And they often come in sets of several to a package, so you can have a few on hand. Then you use a favorite photo of the person, family member, pet, event from their life, beautiful scene, etc. This is a several step project, but lots of fun.
Here’s what you do.
The blank puzzle
Enlarged photo, or print-out of photo, made puzzle size
Modge Podge, glossy
Wide paint brush (1 to 1.5 inches or so)
Exacto type craft knife
Picture frame with cardboard backing
Preparing the Puzzle
First you want to carefully adhere the photo to the puzzle. If it’s a little too big, you can trim it at the edges later. So (outside) spray both pieces with adhesive spray (the top side of the puzzle, and back side of the photo. Follow the directions on the can. Carefully lay the photo on the puzzle format and smooth it out, like putting on contact paper. Let it dry according to product directions (usually at least 30 minutes).
When dry, flip over the puzzle so the back side is facing up. Now you need to take the Exacto knife and carefully cut between the shapes of the pieces so they are loose. You can now jumble the pieces up and put them in a pretty bag or box, with a frame that it will fit in. You can give this to the person.
Making the Puzzle
When they open it, watch them put it together, or make it together. Make it on the cardboard backing from the picture frame, so it can be moved easily. The puzzle will probably be made fairly quickly.
Then you can apply the Modge Podge for a protective coating. If you use the glossy kind, it will really make the colors look vibrant. Modge Podge goes on milky, but will dry clear. You can get it to fill in the cracks and keep the puzzle together when dry. There is also actual puzzle sealant that you can get at craft stores. When very dry, it’s ready to put in the frame. If it is not the exact size as the frame, adhere it in a couple places to the center of the cardboard frame backing, then put both pieces into the frame.