According to puzzle historians, the first jigsaw puzzle was invented in 1767 by a mapmaker and engraver by the name of John Spilsbury. Back in the 1700s, European mapmakers would paste maps onto wood, then cut them up into small pieces. These small pieces would then be used to teach children geography. Over two centuries later, puzzles are still being used as educational tools and toys.
Wendy Gold, along with Galison Puzzles, has put her own twist on this centuries-old game. Inspired by her love of vintage old maps, Gold created puzzles in the shape of US states, the United States as a whole, and maps of the world. She then decorates these maps with imagery of birds and butterflies and flowers. Not only are these puzzle maps fun to put together, but, once completed, they also make lovely pieces of artwork one can display in their home or office.
Health Benefits of Puzzles
Puzzles are often categorized as toys, and therefore are associated with “fun” and “playtime.” But as entertaining as they are, puzzles are also very helpful and have several health benefits: greater attention to detail and improved memory, and better mood and decreased stress levels, to name a few. When children play with puzzles, they are developing skills that help brain function. To that point, when adults put puzzles together, they are increasing cognitive function, and therefore decreasing cognitive decline.
1. Attention to Detail
A strong “attention to detail” is a highly sought after skill by employers these days. The greater one’s attention to detail, the more thorough a job he or she will do. Putting together puzzles can help hone this skill, especially when the puzzle pieces are on the small side and if they are similar in size and color. Training oneself to seek out the little differences in order to solve the puzzle is a skill that can be parlayed into the workplace.
2. Improved Memory
When putting a puzzle together, you often pick up pieces that are not the ones you are looking for. So, you put it down and grab another, but you try to remember that piece for future reference. This is helping you strengthen your memory. And the more pieces there are in the puzzle, the better practice it is for your memory.
3. Better Moods
We all know that feeling of completing a puzzle—it feels great! There are even the little victories of simply putting a piece in its right place—that too can be very satisfying. What is happening in these moments is an increase of our brain producing dopamine, which makes us feel pleasure and reward.
4. Decreased Stress Levels
Most health professionals agree that good way to battle stress is to keep your mind occupied during stressful times. A fun and engaging way to do this is with puzzles. Puzzles are a positive distraction from stressful situations. Trying to find that next piece, and putting it in its right place in the overall picture of the puzzle, can be very consuming. The feeling of achievement once the puzzle is complete has a positive effect on one’s overall being, too. What is more, studies have shown that putting puzzles together can also help with memory loss and dementia, as well as developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Shop Puzzles at Wendy Gold Studios
Struggling to find a last minute gift? Puzzles are great gifts for friends and family of all ages. Wendy Gold brings you several different puzzle sets in varying sizes. Themes include US state flowers, animals facing extinction, and puzzles in the shape of US states (such as California, Florida, New York, Minnesota, and more). From travelers to geography buffs, there are plenty of puzzle options for everyone on your list this year.
US State-Shaped Puzzles
For United States geography fans, Wendy Gold offers mini puzzles made in the shape of each state. Got a cousin who lives in Fort Lauderdale? Get her the Florida puzzle! Know a surfer who is living in Honolulu? Get him the Hawaii puzzle! Each puzzle features the state’s nickname, as well as imagery of the state’s bird and flower. For example, the Colorado puzzle reads, “Colorado, the Centennial State,” with images of a Lark Bunting (bird) and blue columbines (flower). Each 100-piece puzzle measures 8” X 9.75”.
Unique Gifts for Travelers
Looking for a gift for someone who just traveled cross country? Or just got back from overseas? A puzzle of the United States or a world map puzzle is a thoughtful and unique option. This acknowledges their interest in travel while acting as a meaningful reminder of their adventure. What’s more, a puzzle is a fun activity to do while reminiscing about their trip.
Gifts Under $30
Shopping on a budget this year? Don’t feel like splurging on anyone? All good—Wendy Gold has plenty of options in the price range you are looking for. Ranging from one hundred pieces to one thousand, these highly detailed and colorful puzzles come in a variety of themes. There are world maps featuring butterflies and flowers, as well as United States maps showcasing each states’ official flower. These gifts might be under thirty bucks, but they still possess all the charm and beauty of a more expensive item.