Faces of Menlo

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

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 

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Joli Bogdan brings intricate gemstone jewelry to Allied Arts’ newest artisan shop

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Penelope’s Den is the newest Allied Arts shop, but if you’re looking for the store’s namesake and inspiration, you won’t find her among the Guild’s lush rose bushes and wisteria vines. Instead, owner and artist Joli (pronounced Yoli) Bogdan points to Ancient Greek mythology’s Penelope, wife and queen to Odysseus. As readers of The Odyssey […]

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1976 Winter Olympic speed skating champion Sheila Ochowicz keeps competitive juices flowing

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Sheila Young Ochowicz can only speculate what the outcome would have been if she hadn’t remarked to someone that the bronze Olympic medal was the “prettiest.” Competing in speed skating at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, she’d already won a gold and silver medal — and sure enough she added a “pretty” bronze one. “Sometimes […]

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Menlo-Atherton Little League coach – Bob Baxter – wins Positive Coaching Alliance award

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Menlo-Atherton Little League coach Bob Baxter knows about perseverance. It’s that — and having the kids focus on the last thing they did well — that he tries to foster. For his efforts, the third-year coach and former minor league pitcher received the Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double-Goal Coach award, a nationwide honor bestowed on 25 coaches who “strive […]

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Ellen Hendriksen creates podcasts to help people live happier, healthier emotional lives

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Menlo Park resident Ellen Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist at Stanford. She does a mix of research and psychotherapy. “I see a range of clients,” she said, “but much of my practice is in the area of behavioral medicine — people who have a medical diagnosis with a mental health problem that is getting in the […]

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Founder of Women’s Startup Lab, Ari Horie offers female tech leaders an ecosystem of support

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Ari Horie, founder and CEO of Women’s Startup Lab, learned early on the value of being connected. Born in Japan, she first came to the U.S. as an exchange student at age 18, speaking no English. “My mom was big on hands-on experience,” she recalled in the Menlo Park offices of her latest startup. “But […]

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Nick Taylor turns to crime fiction: Writes The Setup Man using pen name T. T. Monday

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Menlo Park resident Nick Taylor has always been a baseball fan, so when he decided to deviate from writing historical fiction and turn to crime (so to speak!), he chose a baseball pitcher who moonlights as a private detective as his main character. The result is the recently published, The Setup Man: A Novel, written […]

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Menlo Park “fix it guy” George Lynch makes it his business to save stuff

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Back in 1986, George Lynch was looking for work when his friend, Bill Wagner, offered him a job at his Menlo Vacuum & Fix It shop in Menlo Park. Intrigued by all things mechanical, George decided to try his hand at it, admittedly thinking, “I’ll just do it for a little while. I probably won’t be […]

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Melissa Black opens Honeycombers to take the stress out of lice removal

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The holidays turned itchy some years ago, according to Melissa Black, owner of Honeycombers, a gleamingly clean and charmingly decorated salon on El Camino in Menlo Park dedicated to eradicating lice. “All four of my daughters got lice on Christmas Eve,” she explains. “One was itching for several weeks — her whole class had been infected. […]

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One thing leads to another – and end result is one of Menlo Park’s most enchanting home & garden

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In the Bay Area it’s not unusual for a house to be painted a non-traditional color or colors. But here in Menlo Park, there is a house that has gone beyond just color: It’s a house plus garden that together presents an enchanting picture for the passer-by. A typical reaction is “it makes me feel […]

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Psychologist Stephanie Brown implores people to slow down and break their addiction to faster and faster

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Is it more difficult to squeeze out a secret from a clinical psychologist? For argument sake, we’re going to say it is. So it was fun to hear Stephanie Brown, PhD, who grew up and lives in Menlo Park — and who has spent almost all of her professional career here — admit that, at heart, […]

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