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Good news for jigsaw fans – Menlo Park is home to Artifact Puzzles

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on April 14, 2014

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The notion that “it would be fun to buy a laser cutter” kept creeping into Maya Gupta’s brain. “I studied electrical engineering because I was interested in lasers,” she explained in the warehouse space of Menlo Park-based Artifact Puzzles, which she started as a hobby and is turning into a business.

The idea of making puzzles using a laser cutter faced one significant hurdle. “Laser cutters are not designed to cut plywood, which are what puzzles are made out of,” she said. “They’re made to cut wood. It takes a lot of work to cut 300 pieces.”

Artifact puzzles are designed for teens and adults and range in size from 54 to close to 600 pieces, priced from $25 to $120. Many contain”whimsy pieces,” a recognizable shape of something, such as an animal or airplane.

About 100 different puzzles are in stock at any given time, and 40 new puzzles will debut this year. “We spend a lot of time deciding how to design the pieces,” said Maya. “Shapes and sizes are what make puzzles interesting. A puzzle needs to look good in pieces as well as when it’s put together.”

Artifacts puzzle box by Becky Flanagan

Customer feedback is key to puzzle creation. “It’s fun to read the customer reviews,” said Maya. “Some of our customers buy every puzzle we make — there are a lot of collectors!

“Our customers also select what images we should use to make a puzzle. We give them five options and they vote.

“Van Gogh has been a popular artist but Picasso has not. We also commission original artwork. Hummingbirds have been our best seller.

Maya and her team welcome inquiries from artists about licensing their artwork. They can be reached at artifactpuzzles@gmail.com

Photos by Rebecca Flanagan 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth H April 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

This is nothing more than a rip off of Liberty Puzzles, even the whimsy pieces.
libertypuzzles.com

Shame on her.

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Alex W May 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

These puzzles have been around for hundreds of years, and the style that Liberty and Artifact makes was very popular in the early 1900’s — even Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley were making them. It died out and Liberty was one of the last companies still doing it.

I’m personally very happy to see a new company doing this again. The more the merrier!

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Shattan December 2, 2014 at 3:48 am

Wooden jigsaws and ‘whimsy’ or cutouts are nothing new. Hand cut companies like Stave and Par have made these by hand for decades, but customers pay for it $650 for 100 pieces and $3250 for 500; they are gorgeous and a luxury many cannot afford. Liberty puzzles look like the British Wentworth puzzles, nice quality, laser cut, and traditional art. Dr. Gupta has done something wonderful for the puzzling world — she showcases new artists and individual designers using Amazon to distribute an American made product affordably. Thank you capitalism and Dr. Gupta. Read my review of wooden jigsaws here: http://treehouseletter.com/2014/12/02/a-passion-for-puzzling/

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