Puzzling Out the Pandemic: Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles From Bewilderness

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After reviewing the Iron Giant jigsaw puzzle from Mondo last year, like so many others, I embraced making puzzles during the pandemic. So when Bewilderness, a Washington state puzzle company, offered to send me a couple of their premium wooden jigsaw puzzles to try out, I jumped at the chance. Their puzzles are precision laser-cut and range in price from $40 to $99.

I decided to try two very different styles of jigsaw puzzles for this review. I deliberately chose to stay away from their toughest puzzles. After all, I’m still a relative novice at jigsaw puzzles, and while I enjoy a challenge, I figured I would be plenty challenged with their normal puzzles. And, as it turns out, I was right.

The box that the Earth puzzle comes in. Image by Paul Benson.

Earth Puzzle

The first puzzle I started with was Earth, a 199-piece puzzle with a watercolor painting design by artist Erin Darling. It retails for $95 and can be purchased here. It came in a surprisingly compact glossy-white box with a magnetic closure. Opening the box, the puzzle pieces are in a zippered plastic bag, which is nicely wrapped in tissue paper. There is also a copy of the artwork, for reference while building the puzzle.

Earth puzzle pieces and illustration. Image by Paul Benson.

Opening up the puzzle pieces, there’s a delightful smell of wood. It’s almost the smell of burning wood in a fireplace, probably thanks to the laser cutting process. Here are all the pieces:

All of the Earth puzzle pieces. Image by Paul Benson.

One of the key features of this puzzle is that several pieces are shaped like animals or trees:

Some of the distinctive Earth puzzle pieces. Image by Paul Benson.

With a standard jigsaw puzzle, you start with the frame. However, the circular Earth puzzle was far from ordinary, and it wasn’t obvious at the outset which pieces contributed to the borders. And so, I started the distinctive pieces, as it would be easier to find matches.

Starting the build. Image by Paul Benson.

Using those pieces as a basis, I was slowly able to build out from there, and things started to take shape.

It’s starting to look more like the picture! Image by Paul Benson.

And finally, here’s the completed puzzle, which is a little under a foot in diameter:

Earth in all its watercolored glory. Image by Paul Benson.

It wasn’t until I’d finished building the puzzle that I realized a lovely detail: all of the plants and animals are in their appropriate regions on the globe!

Wolves and the Moon box. Image by Paul Benson.

Wolves and the Moon Puzzle

Next, I moved on to Wolves and the Moon, which used Bewilderness’ signature geometric cut pieces. The 326-piece puzzle’s art is by Henry, with puzzle design by Whitney. Wolves and the Moon retails for $99 and is available here. Like Earth, the puzzle comes nicely packaged in a glossy box with a magnetic closure.

Some of the geometric puzzle pieces. Image by Paul Benson.

As you can see, the shapes of these pieces also make it difficult to build like a “standard” jigsaw puzzle. I figured I’d better start off by sorting by color.

All of the Wolves and the Moon pieces. Image by Paul Benson.

While I might not be able to build the whole frame first, I could at least start with one of the corners. As the moon was the only part of the puzzle that used yellow, it was an excellent place to begin.

Putting the first part of the puzzle together. Image by Paul Benson.

From there, I figured those big wolf eyes would be the next easiest bit to accomplish. Using the included image for reference, I was able to get them positioned relative to each other. The artist’s signature and the bone were also shapes that were easier to build.

Here’s looking at you, kid. Image by Paul Benson.

From there, I moved on to the teeth and continued to build out from there. Finally, everything just started clicking into place(both literally and figuratively), and then I was done. The finished piece is 11.25″ x 16″.

The finished Wolves and the Moon. Image by Paul Benson.

Bewilderness Jigsaw Puzzles – Final Thoughts

Working with wooden puzzle pieces is different from your typical cardboard puzzles. Except for pieces that tightly interlock, such as a curled tail of a seahorse into its matching piece, wooden puzzle pieces can easily be knocked or slid out of place.

Both of these puzzles were definitely challenging, each in its own way. I found that with Earth, the number of very small pieces could make it tricky to find where exactly everything fit properly. Thankfully, once the larger pieces are in place, it’s easier to see where to slot in the little ones. With Wolves and the Moon, the geometric pieces provided their challenge in seeing where they fit properly. This was especially the case with the starry sky, which I had saved for last. There were times that I was definitely wondering if I was assembling that part of the puzzle correctly, and was worried I may need to pull out pieces and start again. But, thankfully, I had put it together right, as you can see above.

The Bewilderness jigsaw puzzles are all beautifully illustrated, in many different styles. And they smell great, too! If you’re looking for high-quality pieces that will give your mind and fingers a workout, you should definitely look at the wooden jigsaw puzzles from Bewilderness. Maybe now that I have a couple under my belt, I’ll be brave enough to check out those tough ones…

For more information or to make a purchase, check out the Bewilderness website.

Note: Bewilderness sent me the puzzles for evaluation, but had no input into this review.

A closer look at Wolves. Image by Paul Benson.
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