‘Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets’ by Pomegranate Puzzles

Pomegranate has a large inventory of gorgeous, fine art puzzles and at any given time I could easily find two grand worth of puzzles I’d want to arrive on my doorstep. Until that particular fantasy comes true, here’s what we’ve got going on today:

This has gentle, rich color palette that complements the large, geometric blocks so nicely and softens everything up. Lovely dahling, lovely.

Pomegranate has always done a wonderful job with their boxes, and as far as I can tell they have kept essentially the same design for years. They leave plenty of room for the artist’s name and the title of the work, the piece count is highly visible. The top, left corner houses the brand name and I’ve always like that they adjust the background color there to coordinate with the image.

‘Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets’ by Pomegranate

Often, the artwork will be cropped for the purposes of puzzle production, Pomegranate provides the full piece on the back of the box, along with a small bio of the artist and all the requisite licensing and copyright info.

‘Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets’ by Pomegranate
‘Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets’ by Pomegranate
‘Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets’ by Pomegranate

The box is quite sturdy and looks beautiful. If anyone is reading these reviews consistently you might be picking up on a trend here. The puzzle brands that market themselves as art-centered brands also tend to be really good at designing attractive boxes.

One more thing I appreciate about Pomegranate (and Ravensburger) is the consistency of their boxes. When you have built a collection of Pomegranate puzzles over a decade they all look good as a set on the shelf. There’s definitely a couple brands that could take notes……I’m side-eyeing you New York Puzzle Company.

Inside the box we get a thank you note, a resealable baggie, and no poster. Lack of poster is a bit disappointing– I’m curious if this is a licensing thing. These puzzles use pieces of fine art that have a market far beyond the scope of jigsaw puzzles, they are possibly sold as prints by the copyright holders. It’s very possible that there’s an additional licensing fee for including a poster, as it’s essentially a frameable print.

‘Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets’ by Pomegranate

Is that enough blind speculation? Let’s move on to something I actually might know something about. How’re these pieces?

I had the hardest time capturing the colors– the nine piece grid on the cardboard is the closest, but honestly all of these pictures make the pieces look washed out in a way that is just not accurate. Deepest apologies for my inadequacy at capturing the palette Mr. Thiebaud!

The pieces are beautiful and well made, they have a semi-matte linen finish and negligible cutting distortion on the backs. These pieces are very thick, cleanly cut, not a single damaged or lifted piece, and have all sorts of shape variation.

Pomegranate’s pieces are stylish, I find myself admiring the shape of them for their own sake, not for any practical puzzle reason. Take a look at the deep brown and the bright blue pieces in the first image in the slide show. They just look cool all on their own, like an almost mid-century modern vibe. To whoever is drawing the puzzle templates, I commend you.

The pieces do have some issues, however. First of all, false fits were definitely a problem.

'Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets' by Pomegranate
False Fit
'Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets' by Pomegranate
False Fit
'Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets' by Pomegranate
False Fit

I “solved” at least 7 pieces that turned out to be wrong. On my very unofficial false-fit-o-meter 1-2 is expected, 3-4 is acceptable but I’m gonna notice it, 5-7 is going to elicit some low-key frustration growling, 8+ and one can expect rage-eyes and “dUdE! sERioUsly!” erupting from my puzzle corner.

Seven is a lot. Remember that’s only what fooled me, it’s not a count of all the pieces that really looked as though they fit, but because I realized I needed to scrutinize very closely I determined that they didn’t fit after all.

The other issue was that the pieces don’t lay flat when they are pieced together. (This, btw, definitely contributes to uncertainty over whether a fit is false or true.)

'Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets' by Pomegranate

You can see in the picture how unevenly the pieces lay. It’s not just the centered piece in the foreground, but look left to where the grey transitions to blue, those pieces are uneven also. When I tried to push the pieces down it worked only to some extent, but it’s more like I was just forcing the issue to migrate to some other section of the puzzle.

Those were my major issues.

So how did I approach this puzzle?

'Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets' by Pomegranate
'Wayne Thiebaud: Valley Streets' by Pomegranate

I honestly did not have any sort of inspired way to handle this thing, as you could maybe guess from just how many sort piles I have going on here. To sort from the beginning into twelve piles + an edge pile + a miscellaneous pile would probably never be my recommendation or my preference. But this was just kind of a puzzle that didn’t have a lot of short-cut options.

Look at the image again.

It’s a combination of a few large sections (brown facade, grey street), some scattered color sorting (yellow, green, blue), and then small portions that are very distinctive (orange building, the windowed building behind it, brown hills). The composition just makes it a hard one to sort into a few generalized piles.

Once the sorting was done I really enjoyed this one. It was challenging without feeling obnoxious. A few portions were easy, such as the mid-sized buildings and the grey street running off the right of the puzzle. Other parts were harder, like the small buildings and brown hills in the background, and the blue shadows going up the street. The brown facade was just the right size– it required focus and some detailed grid sorting, but the horizontal brush strokes prevent it from being a dreadful grind.

Final thoughts are overall positive. I love the fine art focus of Pomegranate puzzles. The quality and aesthetic of the pieces is very good and they have a very wide variety of image choices. But they don’t come with posters and the fit of the pieces is definitely a problem. I’ve done older Pomegranate puzzles and they had fit issues as well. I have just always found a few problems with their puzzles that I can never sit back and say “Wow, that was great!” And then, the kicker. The pricing. $24 for 1000 pieces, $19 for 500 pieces. It’s definitely high.

So….I have mixed feelings. I’ll keep buying them because their image gallery is awesome, the quality is quite good and they look great on the shelf. But I really only buy their puzzles on sale, I just don’t think the experience overall is a premium $24.00 a puzzle experience. They have made improvements to their puzzles over the years, so hopefully, eventually they will really hit that top-notch, premium experience. For me, they are very close, but just not there yet.

On the headphones:

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