Puzzle Master

Fitting in all the pieces can be charming or challenging

Prices range from $50 to $595 for stock work from 3 1/2 by 5 inches to 11 by 16 inches. Shown here: Santa’s Magical Toys, 5 by 6 inches, $85. Contains 60 pieces. Two of the pieces are Beffa-Negrini’s “foolish figurals” — a candle and Santa in his sleigh.

If your idea of relaxation is fitting together the pieces of a puzzle, then one of artisan David Beffa-Negrini handcrafted puzzles will make your pastime all the more special.

At his Fool’s Gold Puzzles in Harrisville, Beffa-Negrini starts with 1/4-inch basswood, backed with a mahogany veneer. The veneer insures that both sides look good. After dry-mounting an image of a painting or photograph, he uses a scroll saw — much like a quilter would use a sewing machine to top quilt. He turns the wood in a freehand manner to cut puzzle pieces in a variety of sizes using a very fine .0007 blade.

To create a custom puzzle or just to add a bit of whimsy, Beffa-Negrini can cut words (or “foolish figurals,” as he calls them) into the pattern. Puzzle dimensions vary from 4 by 6 inches to 36 by 48 inches, while the pieces range in size to create puzzles in a range of difficulty, from relatively simple to deeply complex. After finishing with the scroll saw, the pieces are sanded, rubbed with tung oil and lastly given an additional coat of paste wax. The pieces are then tucked into a soft gold lamé pouch and packaged inside a custom black box with a gold jester on the lid. The jester is the Fool’s Gold signature, and it actually fits into the puzzle. Beffa-Negrini signs and numbers that piece, saying that it’s a way to identify the puzzle maker should the box be misplaced. These puzzles are collector’s items, and you won’t find them at the Goodwill store along with the cardboard variety.

To add an additional layer of difficulty, an image of the finished puzzle isn’t included. Also, tricks are employed to fool the assembler, such as disguising the edge or corners, cutting between two colors, adding voids and using irregular edges.

Stock images include reproductions of work by local artists, including Marianne Stillwagon, Fred Parsons, Victoria Elbroch and Bob Askey. They are available is a variety of sizes.

Custom and corporate work is accepted, so a favorite family photo or meaningful image can be transformed into a puzzle for about $2 per piece. Fool’s Gold puzzles are available at many League of New Hampshire Craftmen’s shops and Exeter Fine Crafts. Orders are also fulfilled online at foolsgoldpuzzles.com.

More NH artisans you might be interested in

Amee K. Sweet-McNamara's Insect Jewelry

Fun and fantasy with polymer clay.

Randy Johnson's Marvelous Spirals

Making a nautilus, almost like nature does.

The Truly Custom Shoe

Renowned cordwainer (shoemaker) Molly Grant offers classes in crafting your own unique pair of shoes.

Kristin Kennedy's Fine Jewelry Design

From single stones to complex compositions.

Christmas Shopping in Concord

Find something for everyone in our state's capital any time, but the annual Midnight Merriment on Dec. 1 is a great time to start working on your list.

Discovering Strafford

Local holiday shopping is combined with history.

Local Food and Drink Gift Ideas

Give a gift that definitely won't be returned. Our Food Editor recommends everything from spices to spirits, all made right here in New Hampshire.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. The Last Real Trout Stream
    For the outdoor enthusiast, the farther you travel into the wilderness, the closer you get to home.
  2. A Dining Tour of New London
    There's something for everyone to love in this small town including restaurants, inns and gift...
  3. Discovering Milford
    Don't miss out on the antique (and food) finds in Milford.
  4. MLK and New Hampshire
    It was 50 years ago this month that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Tennessee. For...
  5. The Case of the Incredible Mystery Team
    Can the Granite State take credit for launching actors Donald Glover and Aubrey Plaza (and...
  6. The Election Lock of New Hampshire Governors
    Incumbent governors don’t often lose
  7. Up Our Alleys
    Or should we say “lanes”?
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags