At Puzzle Hobby Magazine, we are always searching for something different that is jigsaw puzzle related so you can imagine how interested we were the minute we saw the Magnum Opus by Jill Walterbach.
Clearly you can see this is a massive achievement and a wonderful long term project. The fact that it holds the Guinness World Record takes it to a whole new level.
We are extremely pleased that Jill agreed to share her story here with us via an email interview. Here's some background behind the award winning Magnum Opuz!
Q. For our Readers, which state do you live in?
I live in Surprise, Arizona.
Q. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona area.
Q. How did you become interested in cutting wood jigsaw puzzles in the first place?
My 2nd husband, (now deceased,) bought a Dewalt Scroll saw in 1990 to make toys for our
grandchildren. He made small cars and trucks and I decided to make children’s puzzles in trays.
Q. What kind of education/training do you have that gives you the abilities to be so creative in your artwork and/or wood cutting?
I have no formal training for art or woodwork. Just trial and error and lots of practice.
Q. What did you do for a living before you decided to get into wood- cutting jigsaw puzzles?
I was a welder in the Air Force, then went to college, (Arizona State University), and became a Process Engineer. I worked until I retired in 2001 at Motorola.
Q. Where do you get your ideas for your designs?
Ideas for puzzle designs come from everywhere.
Q. Were you from an artistic family background?
My family is not artistic.
Q. Have you always identified yourself as an artist?
I usually do not consider myself an artist, although many people tell meIam.
Q. What is the average length of time it takes for you to create, say, one, 200-piece wooden puzzle?
I do mostly 12” x 12” 1/4” MDF puzzles of 275-300 pieces now, they take 30 to 40 hours to design, paint, cut and finish, depending on the difficulty of the design.
Q. Do you know how many puzzles you have cut over the years?
I’ve made hundreds maybe thousands of puzzles in the last 30 years.
Q. Out of all your wood puzzles, do you know which image has sold for the highest price?
My puzzles sell for $5-$500 dollars.
Q. This is a big ask....do you have ONE favourite?
I don’t have a favorite, but most people are really awed by my “Peace” puzzle.
Q. If a person was interested in doing the same work you do, what is the best advice you can give them?
You want to make puzzles or make a puzzle bigger than mine, go for it, and practice, practice, practice.
Q. Do you have a specific art studio or work from your home?
I live in a 3 bedroom manufactured home, and use one of the bedrooms as my shop.
Q. Can you share something personal about yourself to us that is not public - like perhaps you do other brand jigsaw puzzles? Or do you have another hobby? Or maybe you know a famous person personally?
I like dragons.
Q. On your World Guinness achievement project, Magnum Opus, can you tell us how you came about deciding to create such a massive puzzle?
Magnum Opus means an artist’s greatest work, and I meant this to be just that. I saw a large puzzle by Dave Evans of England, with a 40K piece puzzle that collapsed, and worked on figuring a way to do it with more pieces and more mobile, so it wouldn’t collapse. I made a 50K puzzle wrapped around a post, but thought I could do better, so I worked on improving the glue joints and made the art work more continuous instead of a collage of pictures. After several months of trial and error, I finally made a puzzle I was happy with, then I just kept going until it was 100K plus and was nearly too big to handle. It now weighs over 60 pounds, is about 18” across and 14” high with the base and “lazy susan” under it which makes it easy to pull out.
Q. How long did it take to create the artwork?
It took about 2 years to paint and cut and finish once I developed my techniques.
Q. How much wood is used in this project?
It has 72 feet of 12”x12”x1/4” MDF maple veneered wood, plus a 18”x18” base of Maple.
Q. Can you give us some background on the process you took to produce this massive wood puzzle?
I paint 2 12” squares, cut 11” of the first into small pieces using a cutting pattern save the end, cut 1” off the second, glue it to the first, then cut until the last inch of that panel, paint more panels and continue. Each 1 foot panel has 37 pieces high and 38 pieces wide, 1306 pieces per foot of puzzle.
Q. Do you have anything more to add that I may have missed?
This puzzle is for sale $150,000. US dollars. I would like to see it in some art museum.
Q. I would also like to see/know how your 'work in progress' happens - are there images/stages that you can share?
Sample of other custom wood hand cut pieces by Jill
If you are interested in contacting Jill for any of her puzzled, please connect with her on Facebook using the following link.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - With her self-published book and over 300 jigsaw puzzle reviews, Linda has established herself as a prominent social media marketing influencer and jigsaw puzzle-preneur. If you want to send Linda a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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