Alrighty, found this guy on sale at TJMaxx and I didn’t think twice. I wanted to try a Piecework puzzle because their images really tickle my funny bone. All their puzzles are still life arrangements but with so much personality. They give me the sense of peeking into the life of a rather unique individual with an absolutely extra social calendar.
Just take a moment to appreciate some of these totally weird arrangements:
That last one is probably my favorite. So random. The grapefruit painted grey and then the one piece of banana poking out. Haha and then just like a chunk of pan-shaped pasta chillin’ in the background.
Such an unusual and quirky portfolio of images. It’s definitely a brand with a clear identity making instantly recognizable puzzles that are unlike anything else available.
Also, btw, every puzzle has a Spotify playlist to go with it. I love that idea, it’s kind of exloring how each puzzle is it’s own experience with it’s own mood.
Anyways, these puzzles are pricy af, and I’d heard on the redditvine that maybe they weren’t actually super great quality. So I didn’t really hesitate when I saw them on sale. Got’s to test them out, right?
I got mine for $15, but they retail at $38 for 1000 pieces, and $32 for 500. Even their minis are $20. yowch.
Okay, let’s start with the box:
You can see instantly it’s a very minimalist design.
I really like it. It’s kind of bold to make the image so small on the front. But when you see several of them lined up on the shelf, in-store, they really stand out. This particular puzzle has a very pale blue background, but across the brand the boxes are all kinds of vibrant colors. The quirky titles and bright colors will draw people in to take a closer look.
Then on the back there is a full-sized, completely unobstructed view of the puzzle image.
Both long sides of the box are identical. Brand in tiny print and title in huge print.
Top side. Not much here, not much to say about it.
All the pesky little necessities are on the bottom. Ugly. I hate that chunk of text on the left.
The big thing it’s missing is a small image inset on the sides of the box, or even just on one side of the box. But, meh, I’ll allow it. They’ve done a very minimalist design that looks really good, and trying to add insets would clutter it all up.
Furthermore, these are very unique puzzles. They aren’t like the two-thousandth variation you’ve seen of kittens being adorable, or the three-thousandth variation you’ve seen of Americana farm houses. So, I really think the name is enough.
Final judgement: I dig the box. It’s bold, attractive, and distinctive. And despite having a tiny image on the front, the back actually offers one of the best box images you can get because it is completely unobstructed by titles, branding, stickers, or selling points.
Let’s get to the pieces.
The surface of the pieces is quite matte, and pleasantly soft to the touch. It really brings to mind the finish that Art & Fable uses.
Quite thick pieces:
Ten pieces stacked = 13/16″
….or 2.3 centimeters. Same as Ravensburger.
The backs I don’t like the look of. They’ve got that kind of scrunched white backing that often goes hand-in-hand with lifting edges. Same style of backing that Galison has; that white paper just seems to catch on other pieces and start to pull apart. I’ll see how it goes….
The magic of the written word!!
Zero time has passed for you, dear reader, but on my end two full days have transpired!
Sadly, my concerns about the piece backing proved to be on point.
Need a better look?
Seriously just not acceptable. This is like what you get from some random Amazon store named KUWEEXI that also sells lint rollers, screen protectors for only two phone models, and the ugliest curtains you’ve ever seen. It comes in a fliptop cardboard box, costs $7.99 for 2000 pieces and is advertised as “BEST FUN FOR ALL. GAME FOR STAY YOUNG BRAIN PRACTICE.”
This is not what you get for $38.00 f-ing dollars.
I’m gonna try to not get totally derailed on these pieces right now. Let’s just get to the build and I’ll come back to all this in my final thoughts.
I went with loose color sorting on this one. Yellows + Oranges, Reds + Purples, Greens, Whites. And then everything else…..which was basically just blue.
After the initial sort I took one color pile at a time and separated the pieces by tchotchke. Super easy sort, all these things are very distinctive. All the little doodads came together quickly and it was really fun. Almost like a bunch of mini puzzles.
This was my progress after listening to the “Tchotchke” playlist one time through (1 hr 54 min). Literally exactly the time it took me to build all my color piles.
Picked it back up the next morning and finished the blue background. Total build time was 4hr 11min. So the blue pieces only took me about 15 minutes longer than the tchotchkes themselves.
I know this image might seem difficult at first glance because of the overwhelming amount of blue. But if you look at it with a discerning eye you can see that any given area of blue is pretty small because the tchotchkes are spaced evenly around the area. In addition, the lighting gives you a gradient from light blue to dark blue and also creates a lot of strong shadows.
Combine all that together and it wasn’t too difficult. I never even sorted pieces by shape. I was able to place pieces at a steady pace and never came close to feeling like I was stuck and needed a more methodical approach.
Looks super cute when it’s all put together. This would be a fun one to hang in a play room.
Taken overall my assembly of the puzzle was enjoyable.
The boxes are attractive with a big photo to work from. The pieces are thick, and uniquely cut with a distinctive style. And, the finish is very good- not as velvety scrumptious as Art & Fable, but it’s got to be a very close second.
Here’s a close up comparison with an Art & Fable piece. You can see the piece from this puzzle (blue) shows the very slightest bit of light reflection, while the green piece shows none at all.
The fit of the pieces was just-right snug, not too loose, not too tight. You should be able to move a small assembled section into place without a problem.
So, Piecework did get a lot of things right.
The glaring issue is the terrible quality control and the outrageous pricing.
I’m going to take a minute to compare Piecework to Art & Fable because they are both small arthouse brands retailing at luxury prices and using a premium matte finish.
Art & Fable’s current MSRP for a 1000 piece puzzle is $30.95. For that price you get an unsurpassed matte finish, a frameable art print on heavy duty cardstock, a box stand, and a resealable baggie for the pieces.
Art & Fable did have their own piece-quality issues and I decided their price for product trade-off wasn’t good enough, to me, to pay full price. Yet, Piecework wants to charge $7.00 more than even Art & Fable while having even worse damage to their pieces and zero extras included.
That many pieces, that messed up is bad. There is just no excuse for it at this price point.
You can’t charge $38.00 for a puzzle and get most of it right. You have to get all of it right.
Like, ‘It’s a really nice product, if you ignore the shitty manufacturing quality,’ doesn’t quite work for me.
As is, my okay-i’ll-buy-that price for a Piecework puzzle is sub-$20. And honestly part of the reason it isn’t higher is probably somewhat emotional. After all, as I said earlier, apart from the piece damage the rest of the details are rather good.
But, the obviously poor quality control of the Piecework puzzle, in tandem with the exorbitant price is a hard “no” from me. Do they really believe that that’s what forty dollars should buy their customers? A pile that big of mangled and damaged pieces? Honestly, it feels almost insulting.
With Art & Fable the piece quality could also be improved but it is clear that they put a lot of thought into making a really nice product for puzzlers. I don’t resent the pricing the way I do with Piecework.
In the end, I am personally put off by the quality/price issue but the assembly itself is a good experience. The puzzles have a lot going for them, and I’m not really inclined to advise against buying. More I would just recommend waiting for a sale so that the price is at least in the realm of not-insane.