Notes from Puzzle Palace

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Thoughts on display and duplicates

 George and I have spent a great deal of time thinking about and discussing display options for our museum.  As noted in my last post, we have decided upon a mix of cubies and book cases.  Our go-to for this museum is IKEA.  Yes, you read that right.  IKEA.  The Kallax cubies are what we used on the front wall in the great room and kitchen, and in the downstairs guest room.  The library, half-way bedroom, and master bedroom will all be equipped with Billy Bookcases.  Now I know this sounds cheap, and it is.  BUT!  It is not.  We are fortunate to be living in a cinderblock home.  All units that are attached to the outside walls are mounted directly into the cinderblock walls.  Each bookcase is 93" tall and 30" wide.  This allows for mounting to every other stud of the building on internal walls.  

People have said this will not hold up to the weight of the puzzles, but unlike most, our shelves will not be crowded with puzzles.  Our motto in Puzzle Palace has been since day 1: Display and Play.  The same goes for the Puzzle Palace Museum.  The shelves are 11" deep, and I suppose it is possible to have the puzzles 2 or even 3 deep, this is not something we want to do.  If they are like that, you can't see the puzzles, and you will be unable to play with them.  The bookcased rooms are done that way in order to provide living space for any guests we may have.  

The Kallax cubes are a different story.  Each cubie will have six 14"x6"x4" clear PET lidded containers inside. Each will hold up to 8 standard sized Rubik's cubes. Each container will be labeled and each puzzle inside the contaier will have a unique identifier. This will allow visitors to quickly access the puzzles they are looking for.  

We plan to continue to use the Horden-Dalgety classification system with a few tweeks and additions.  Most notable of this is the absence of any classification for Twisty puzzles.  I have also spent many hours pouring over the Slocum, Hoffmann, von Delft & Botterman's, and Rob Stegman's puzzle classification systems. With each of these, there are many good points and there is always the possibility that I will be incorporating parts of them into our system.  If you have any constructive ideas, please feel free to pass them on to us. 

The library will house all of the puzzle books. Sadly, the only way I can see to hold all of them is to store them by height.  This will allow us to maximize the space in the room.  There will be a computer set up in the house with access to the public database for all guests.  

As for storage, we don't really see this as a problem.  All duplicates will be stored in the attic space of Puzzle Palace or the garage of the Puzzle Palace Museum.  All other puzzles will be on display as per our MO. 

And now on to duplicates.  Since we have announced this acquisition, we have had many requests to sell our duplicates.  Yes, we expect to have many but at this point we are not at all interested in letting any go. We have agreed with James that we will not put any up for sale for at least 3 years.  I expect it to be much more along the lines of 5 years.  It is my goal to have the collection completely catalogued before I even begin to think of disposing of any duplicates that we have.  As an example, when George and I combined our collections, we discovered around 3000 duplicates.  I have yet to sell any of those.  We have our treasure chest and duplicates are placed there for guests to take one when they leave.  We plan to continue this practice.  We also plan to trade puzzles for puzzles at some point in the future.  Perhaps when the dust settles and I have the puzzles put on shelves and catalogued we may run a special auction.

In the mean time, we are looking for yet more puzzles.  Unlike some museums that shall remain unnamed, we have every intention of increasing the size of our collection.  If you feel there is a puzzle we simply must add to the collection, please let us know. If you wish to donate puzzles to the collection, we will readily accept them without the need for you to provide any sort of funding.  Like America, our museum is a melting pot.  Send us your tired, your poor, your unwanted puzzles yearning to breathe free. 

Before I close, a small update on the progress of the museum.  This past week has seen the completion of the outdoor area.  All pavers are in place and work continues on leveling the driveway and completing the walkway to the pool area. We have had four more walls of shelving units completely mounted and another started.  Final plans have been ok'd for the workman's bathroom disentanglement walls.  The electricians have entered the building and have finished installing lights in both downstairs bedrooms and the great room.  The olive oak trees have been removed from the front of the property and a pool polluting oak has been removed from the back of the house.  The wood from the later is now curing in the garage to be used in the fireplaces.  Work continues at a steady pace.  I'm sure we will be completely finished by the time the puzzles arrive. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Building a Museum

 So by now, I'm sure that most of you who attended the VMPP last weekend will know that George and I will be the new guardians of the Hordern-Dalgety puzzle collection.  Accomplishing this is no small feat.  On James' side, he began looking for a new home for his museum many years ago.  In 2016 he put a call for takers into CFF, and his website has had the same call on it for as long as I can remember.  George and I were dreaming one day as I looked up something on James' site and went and bought a house to hold it.  No, that's a bit of an exaggeration, we began emailing James to say if he had no takers to add us to the bottom of his list as we knew his desire to keep the collection in Europe.  

We spent quite a few long what'sapp calls with James and many many more long emails of back and forth on the logistics of all of this.  Poor James has had the hardest job of all so far.  He has to find the movers and get the puzzles packed and ready to ship to us.  We greatly appreciate his trust in us.  We know how very hard it must be for him to have his collection leave his home after so many years of collecting. 

On our end, in the off chance we were able to obtain the collection, I started looking at commercial properties but they were simply too far away.  We then started looking at the non-gated communities around us but all the homes in our price range were too small.  As much as we hated to do it for many reasons, we finally looked within our own club. We found the perfect house to turn into a museum and promptly bought it.  This is before we became guardians of the collection.  If it didn't pan out, we have a weekend home, or more selfishly, a place to keep the kid closer to her mom for a few more years-yet far enough a way to still be able to have a private life. This house is a short 8 minute walk from Puzzle Palace and has been appropriately named the Puzzle Palace Museum.  It is 3,427 square feet, has 4 bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths.  Like Puzzle Palace, this house is being kitted out to hold the incoming collection.  We will have around 40,000 puzzles coming in as well as around 3000 puzzle related books.  

We've kitted out every room with 15x15x15 shelf cubies.  Each main box is 2 of the cubies high by 4 long. They are stacked on most walls 3 boxes high.  Depending on how many puzzles we have in this collection, each of the small cubies will hold six pva clear lidded drawers.   Each drawer can hold up to 8 Rubik's cube sized puzzle.  The beauty of this is that you can see each puzzle, and still be able to play with them while we are maximizing the space. In the great room, there are a total of 98 of these units.  This is an area that will hold just over 37,000 puzzles.  We have an extra 14x14 bedroom on the main floor that will have a total of 304 linear feet of shelf space.  This area will hold an additional 1200 puzzles.  On top of this there will be a number of map cases in these rooms that will hold another 3000 puzzles.  We have also installed wire puzzle hooks in the outdoor powder room that will hold approximately 500 puzzles.  The cabana bath also has another set of shelves that will hold around 200 puzzles.  The laundry room-cum-bar will have additional puzzle hooks to hold another 200~300 puzzles. For those that are better at math than me, this lower level of the house should be able to hold at least 42,000 puzzles.  

I have been posting photos and videos of the great wall on FaceBook and have gotten a lot of comments about it not being sturdy or collapsing under the weight of the puzzles on it.  This wall is 10 wide x 26 feet high at the apex.  What you don't realize is that it is a solid concrete wall.  The cubbies are mounted directly to the wall with concrete anchors in four places per unit.  Each unit is connected to those surrounding it.  The center of each cabinet is further supported by more planks and those are also mounted to the wall and to the cabinets around them.  This thing is going no where.  I feel for anyone who purchases this house after we are gone.  Those things are there to stay.  This particular wall was not designed for the main purpose of storage.  It is here for visual impact.  When you enter the Puzzle Palace Museum, you will be amazed by this. It will be a wonder to behold. For those of you who have visited James' house, you may not remember all of these puzzles.  Why?  He had them in a beautiful cabinet behind closed doors or on the top of his custom made cabinet.  These are not puzzles to be played with, but rather puzzles to be looked at.  

James has graciously given us his collection of puzzle books and we have decided to use one 14x14 bedroom as a library.  I don't believe there will be room for a bed in here, but I do plan to put in a table with comfortable chairs so one can read or research in comfort.

I guess any other puzzles will be placed in the midlevel and master bedrooms.  We will have a large number of puzzle 'posters' and 'artwork' on display as well.  These will be placed in the uncabineted areas of the 26' walls.  You will have to look up to see them, but there are also two wonderful viewing areas over either side of the great room that will very easily allow observation of any hung art works.

To make this museum work, we have had to do quite a lot of work on the house.  Don't get me wrong, the house is in amazingly good shape.  We got such a bargain on it.  It is very museum-like in design; the high ceilings, the angles, the amount of natural light that comes through the windows.  It's a wonderful place to house the collection.  

One of James' concerns (among many I will address here) was exposure to UV light. He's worried and rightfully so about fading of the puzzles.  The way the house is situated, there is a lot of natural light, but very little light that falls anywhere but on the floor.  The few rooms that have more exposure are covered by our jungle.  The windows also have blinds on them that can be drawn if need be, but after having spent the last 2 weeks here, we realize that it won't be necessary. The lights I chose to install are all low UV emitting LED lights.  None of the puzzles will be directly lit up as all lights are to be angled away from the walls and more towards the inside of the room. In order to ensure good visibility, I am having 99 lights either replaced, or installed.  The lights themselves are on a Lutron system that is voice activated through Siri on either the HomePods that are scattered throughout the house or the iPad that has been installed in the kitchen.

Everyone is concerned about dust, but we have taken care of this as well.  As in Puzzle Palace, we have just installed new HVAC systems.  This house has 4 units (overkill for the size of the house) all equipped with a Remy Halo air purifier. We have these in the big house and love them.  Since installing them, the dust level has dropped significantly.  The systems also have the added benefit of keeping the house humidity controlled.  We have the temperature set between 70 and 77 degrees.  Currently the humidity is at 60% but the system has only been working for 2 days.  This will be monitored and adjusted as necessary.  The house also has that fantastic in wall vacuum system.  Amazing thing that is.  I wish I'd have had those in other places I've lived in.  

We have entrances all around the house.  There are 4 sliding glass doors to the pool area, the front entrance of course, and a garage entrance. This house doesn't have a screened in pool, but we do have screens on all of the windows so no bugs here.  We are not worried about break-ins because of the excellent security in our community.  We will be installing motion detectors outside the house and some security cameras inside but this is more for us to maintain an eye on the collection from our own home. This is of course a smart home and I can control it from anywhere thanks to modern technology and telephones but a little bit of added security won't hurt.  

We have contacted Tesla and will be having solar installed here as well.  Additionally there will be 4 power walls to store energy in the event of a power outage.  We are not in a flood zone, the house is equipped with full hurricane shutters, although direct hits from hurricanes in this area are rare.  We aren't in a hurricane evacuation area.  The last major hurricane to hit this area was Irma and it didn't do much damage at all.  While we do get hurricanes, we are far enough away from the water that we are not in the high wind areas.  

The kitchen has been filled with all one needs to live in a house.  There are silverware, dishes, pots and pans, ovenware, a coffee maker or two.  There is food in the cupboards and wine in the bar.  Guests that stay here will have a choice of 3 bedrooms or the great room.  We are not installing traditional beds, but rather will have a Castro Convertible in each of the rooms.  There are additional air mattresses for when we have larger parties.  And if there is so much demand for space after both the museum and the Puzzle Palace are filled, there is a hotel a short 10 minute walk down the road.  

And although we don't watch it, we do have a television installed in the master bedroom.  With the way the room is set up, we can also use it to host presentations.  Folding chairs are easy to store.  The cable is hooked up and the internet is up and running.

Should the puzzle collection grow beyond its current size (and we all know it will), we also have a 2 car air conditioned garage that we can convert into a puzzle room.  This area even has its own powder room. Currently it is only being used to store a 4 person golf cart that we purchased so guests who don't want to walk can travel between the two houses. 

A landscaper has been contracted, new sidewalks are going in, the pool and spa are being redone, outdoor furniture is being brought in, the putting green is on order.  This house will soon be ready for visitors once the puzzles have arrived.  

We really have no words to express how thrilled, grateful, humbled we are that James has chosen to entrust us with his wonderful collection.  He and Lindsey have a vacation home for life.  We really feel honored that he has done this and hope we display the collection in a way that does it justice.

I'll post photos and make more updates as the museum is updated. 

As always, Puzzle Palace is open to fellow puzzlers by invitation only. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The King of 3D printing is at it again!

 George has always been a pioneer in the area of 3D printing.  His first printer was bought in 2003 after he saw an exhibition in Chicago.  Oskar called him over excitedly and told him he had to see this machine. When George got home, he bought the Stratasys Dimension printer and the rest is history.  He bought the machine and hasn't looked back.  He has often told me that that first printer cost more than I've put into my VW Beetle.  More than most people spent on a car at the time.  

Over the years he has purchased quite a few different 3D printers.  He brought a FormLabs 2 SLA printer with him from California, I purchased him a Creality CR6 SE and a Creality 3D PrintMill (CR30) printer through Kickstarter.   We also have 2 JGMaker Artist D's on order.  His last purchase was the Ultimaker S5.

Heck, he even brought a DaVinci Nano 3D printer on a trip to Antarctica! This was later gifted to Oskar in the hopes that he would begin using a 3D printer himself.  In case you didn't know, Oskar has embraced 3D printing on his own.  He's now teaching George things.  The student now teaches the teacher.

But none of these can hold a candle to what arrived on Monday.  Once again George has proven himself to be a pioneer in 3D printing.  His Fuse 1 SLS printer finally came in! GoodBye ShapeWays. It has been a very long wait.  We ordered this in June of 2017.  That is a long time.  (Although, I have been waiting longer to get my Tesla Roadster.)  George ordered this one all jazzed up and jellied out.  He added the sifter, the benches they stand on, the vacuum.  He's getting a tumbler to put in his dirty workshop.  You name it, he'll have it. 

The best part of this?  Well, we get to make puzzles of course, but the company has a 1 on 1 two hour training session that we will be taking together. This way I can learn to use the printer as well.  This saves George the time it will take to train me.  He's already read the manual, and I'm now working on it.  We expect a month or so before we take those lessons because we are busy with something else right now.  

I'm expecting that as soon as he really learns how to use the machine we will be in the 'business' of making 100 puzzles.  He's already calculated that our next IPP exchange will take something like 3 days to complete.  This is exciting! Can you imagine the possibilities?  

Saturday, February 6, 2021

George and his Burrs

My beautiful lover began his puzzling journey around the age of 10.  His first puzzle was a kumuki barrel burr, and he's been hooked ever since.  His second one was an elephant.  He has a small burr set from many years ago and proceeded to write to the company to tell them they had analyzed it wrong.  Later when he was in college he made his own burr set taken out of Anthony Phillip Hayak's book Puzzles in Wood.  His copy was copied at a library.  It was written in 1923.  For an overview of his burr obsession, please see the 12th day of Christmas on my blog. 

This love of his for burrs caused me to hunt down a number of them for his birthday this year.  The first is the Combination Burr Box by solve-it-puzzles   While the paperwork that comes with the puzzle says there are 49 different solutions for this 27 piece set, the web page lists only 45 solutions.  Interestingly, when put into Burr Tools, some of the solutions given do not have solutions at all.  It's a rather confusing puzzle for the dumb puzzler such as I. As always, George put the pieces into burr tools and found many many more.  There are actually a total of 65 solutions without any holes.  If you do not use the 0 piece (the solid rod), there are no solutions at all. If you you use the rod, for holey puzzles, you can have 2805 solutions.  Without the rod, there are 2,110,585 solutions. That's a lot of puzzle for $54.54. 

The next set I got him was a 42 piece set made by Jerry McFarland. He called it the caramel box when he first made it.  Sadly, there wasn't one left with the box, but Jerry did sell me a set of the burrs.  I brought them to our cabinet maker and he designed a beautiful zebra wood box for it.  This set was also put out by Wayne Daniel many years earlier. Keven writes about it here.

The last burr set I gave him this year for his birthday this year is available at graveraven.  I ordered him all of the 59 notchable burr pieces that have been produced.  Additionally, I ordered Loves Dozen to add to the set. Again, there was no box so I sent this set to the cabinet maker as well.  He decided this one had to be silver and gold. As you can see, there is room for around 40 more pieces in here.  I'm waiting for some good folks to go in on the ordering of pieces before I fill the holes in.  The set up costs are a bit steep.  Or perhaps when George gets his CNC machine up and running he can make his own.  

One of the nice aspects of the boxes that I had made is that there is room along the sides for additional pieces in the case of the wooden burr set, and as for the metal set, the side room is a nice space for finished puzzles. Needless to say, George loved his birthday gifts and spent a great deal of time doing what he does best.  Burr tooling them.  I guess I'll have to up the anti next year.

As a final thought, it really saddens me to see these beautiful burr sets sell as inexpensively as they do.  I mean, the puzzle designer/builder does not seem to get enough for what they do.  The cabinet maker, while he made some lovely boxes, charged at least three times the cost of the puzzles.  It hardly seems fair. I shall quit complaining about the cost of puzzles from now on.  If you know of any sets my beautiful lover doesn't have that he should add to his collection, do let me know.  If you are interested in obtaining the Burr Tools files, give me a message and I'll have George load them for future reference.