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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Record jigsaw

A family of four took 86 days to complete a jigsaw puzzle bigger than their living room
The Straits Times - October 8, 2011
By: Cheryl Faith Wee
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Record jigsaw Jigsaw family: Mr Andrew Thio, his wife, and children, Solskjaer, nine, and Seraphina, three, completed the world's largest puzzle. -- ST PHOTO: DELON HO

Completing the world's largest puzzle was a big challenge for the jigsaw-crazy Thio family, but deciding what to do with it afterwards is a problem to solve, too.

The puzzle consists of more than 32,000 pieces and covers 5.44m by 1.92m, an area much larger than an average living room. There is no wall or floor space in their 115 sq m three-bedroom condominium unit that is big enough to place the gigantic jigsaw.

It was done in eight parts and is stored on pieces of mounting board in their study room.

The eye-popping puzzle has beat their previous entry into the fame game - a 24,000-piece creation measuring 4.28m by 1.57m they did in 2009 and which was officially registered as the world's largest commercially available jigsaw puzzle in the Guinness World Records.

The Thio family's latest monster depicts a grid of 32 works by late American pop artist Keith Haring, known for his graffiti art, and is titled Double Retrospect.

It took Mr Andrew Thio, 42, his wife Joyce, 42, daughter Seraphina, three, and son Solskjaer, nine, 86 days to complete. The 24,000-piece jigsaw took 55 days.

Some of their neighbours in Jurong West Central 3 have come up with helpful suggestions on what to do with it.

'They have been asking me to put it on a wall in the condominium compound. But who is going to pay for it to be mounted?' says the practical Mr Thio, who is a head of business development.

Getting someone to mount the puzzle also poses a problem. 'It's hard to find someone who is willing to do it because they don't want to take the responsibility - if the puzzle falls, they don't want to have to put it together again,' added Mr Thio.

He learnt about the massive puzzle, manufactured by German firm Ravensburger, online last year while he was looking for a new challenge. He then ordered the puzzle, costing S$422, via a Belgium website called Babylon Hobbies Puzzles.

Shipping costs brought the figure close to $1,000. It was delivered last December in a box almost as tall as Seraphina and which weighed around 20kg.

But its size did not deter the family. Mr Thio and Joyce, a housewife, spent about five hours a day piecing together the puzzle.

'When we see more and more of the picture appearing, we can continue to do it until we don't want to sleep,' he says.

Smaller jigsaw puzzles have become almost too easy for the Thio family.

'We finish even 2,000-piece puzzles very fast, so there's no kick anymore,' says Mr Thio. 'Now we go straight to the biggest ones. We go on Google to find the world's largest puzzles.'

The couple's hobby started six years ago and has since spread to their children. Solskjaer wishes he could have more time to work on jigsaw puzzles.

'When he comes back from school, he can spend only one to two hours because he has to do his homework and practise the piano. He wants to spend more time on puzzles, but we do not allow him to,' says his father.

Even Seraphina joins in. She helps to sort out pieces into their different colours and shapes - an important task especially on something this huge.

The seemingly arduous task of sitting hunched over a puzzle on the floor does not seem to bother the family.

Mr Thio says: 'It can be tiring on the eyes. You can look at the pieces until your vision gets a bit blurry and you can't find the next piece. But if you take a break, go for dinner, you can come back and do it again.'

To prove that they finished the Ravensburger work on their own, Mr Thio documented the process by taking pictures of the parts they completed daily.

Working on puzzles both big and small has already become like second nature to him.

He says: 'I like all kinds of puzzles. You must have a system. Practice makes perfect.'

 

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