Culture

The Crazy Results You Get When You Combine Jigsaw Puzzles

By Robin Mei - January 17, 2017

Iron Horse

It might come as a surprise to some, but most jigsaw puzzle manufacturers use the same die-cut design when producing their puzzles. That means various pieces of different puzzles can fit together.

This manufacturing loophole has inspired an artist by the name of Tim Klein (see more of his artwork here) to start creating his own artwork by combining pieces from different puzzles to form something completely new and different.

The name of this montage piece is Iron Horse, a surreal composition of a horse and a train.

Source: Puzzle Montage Art by Tim Klein

King of the Road

Klein uses puzzles from different sets and often merges pieces from two or more puzzle boxes to create new works that the manufacturer would never have imagined, such as this one he calls King of the Road.

This artwork was constructed from two puzzle sets published in the 1970s. It depicts a huge, powerful truck with the face of a mighty pharaoh from the 18th dynasty, the great Tutankhamun, who ruled Egypt during the New Kingdom.

The Mercy-Go-Round (Sunshine and Shadow)

What makes this artist’s work particularly exciting is his interest in combining seemingly incompatible motifs, such as this church and carnival,.

As Klein explains on his website, this montage, called the Mercy-Go-Round (Sunshine and Shadow), showcases an odd juxtaposition of a beautiful white church with a colorful carnival ride. Somewhat surprised by the reaction this piece elicits, Klein says, “Some people find it humorous, others find it affirming or joyful, and others see it as blasphemous or insulting.”

Waterfall Grille

Some of the artwork from Tim Klein’s portfolio may even be compared with the offerings of certain urban artists, (particularly those who specialize in 3D street painting), since they share the same qualities — fantastic perspectives and incredible depth.

This piece may be one of the best examples of that. It is called Waterfall Grille and is lovingly spliced together tfrom two small panoramic puzzle sets depicting urban and wild natural surroundings.

Surrogate

Surrogate (or, as we like to call it if we may be so bold, “consider yourself hugged”) is an imaginative work that combines puzzle pieces featuring two of America’s favorite things. A teddy bear, the stress-relief best friend of young children everywhere, and a can of Budweiser beer, the adult equivalent for some people.

The provocative and witty Surrogate puzzle montage is assembled from the pieces of two small “greeting card” puzzles from the 1980s.

Mountain Plantation

Mountain Plantation is the first puzzle montage Klein ever created and understandably has tremendous personal value. Another reason why this work is so special and unique is the fact that it combines images of two locations, Orton Plantation and Mount Jefferson, that are equally important to the artist.

The mansion at Orton Plantation is located in the artist’s hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, while Mount Jefferson is one of the most famous landmarks from where he currently hangs his hat in the Pacific Northwest.

The All-Seeing Elephant

One of the greatest inspirations for this artist is the very process of creation, including research, experimentation and invention. Klein says that he takes great pleasure in, as he calls it, “discovering” fantastically bizarre and for years (sometimes decades) forgotten images that lie latent inside their cardboard boxes waiting to be found again.

It seems two such boxes had precisely what he needed to create this extraordinary piece called The All-Seeing Elephant.

Metamorphosis (Unburdening)

The shifting of pieces back and forth and trying out various combinations is what Klein enjoys the most. He often lets the process itself develop the unique form of a particular piece, but the essence always remains the same. If we had to describe the process in only one word, it would be ‘metamorphosis.’

Metamorphosis (Unburdening) is also the name of this outstanding artwork. It depicts a peacock whose wings are a maze but dreams of being a butterfly, liberated and light.

Metamorphosis (Enlightenment)

Metamorphosis (Enlightenment) is created from three different puzzles published in the early 1970s — a maze puzzle and two copies of the same set depicting a large ancient Chinese sculpture of a bodhisattva (saint) named Kuan-Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion.

The parenthesized subtitle, Enlightenment, refers not only to the Buddhist principle of enlightenment but also to the fact that Klei has completely changed the background of the original Kuan-Yin puzzle and “lightened” it up by swapping in pieces from the brighter maze puzzle.

Convergence and Emergence (Shall We Dance?)

Convergence and Emergence (Shall We Dance?) is a diptych that made its public debut at Gallery 360 in Vancouver, Washington, as one of the participants in a group exhibition called “Opposites Attract.”

The composition is created from two puzzles published in the early 1980s featuring a crossword and a peacock. Each half bears its own name: The left side is Convergence (Neologism), the right is Emergence (The Words Made Flesh). As Klein explains of this rather tricky piece, “The two halves of the diptych are inverses, each one using all the pieces not used in the other.”

The Other Side

Although Klein himself often refers to his work as puzzle montage, the quality of his final results and ideas on which they are based make his concepts worthy of being called mosaic or collage art. These are the terms the originator of this art form, professor Mel Andringa, uses, and so will we.

This image shows a puzzle collage known as the Other Side. It is made from two puzzle sets both published in the 1980s.

What Makes The Other Side Different?

An interesting “play of planes” distinguishes this particular piece. Unlike most of Klein’s other works, which are done in a single plane, this one has two.

As you’ll see in this image with enlarged detail from the Other Side mosaic, the coin puzzle lies on top of a puzzle featuring eyes. The two-layered arrangement produces  depth and gives the impression that these eyes look into the eyes of the viewer from the other side of a gold coin wall.

Washington

Conceived as a homage to the great state of Washington and the great man for whom it was named, this piece is one of the artist’s favorite works.

The Washington puzzle mosaic was made from two puzzles, both published in 1979. One of the puzzle sets shows a Pacific Northwest waterfall. the other is an illustration of a cute and furry white puppy with a head that reminds Klein of “a certain famous powdered wig.”

Sphinx

Sphinx represents a surreal concept of an ancient enigmatic being. This mythical creature is usually presented with the head of a human and the body of a lion, but in Klein’s take on this concept, the Sphinx’s human head is added to the body of a puppy.

Klein’s Sphinx is made from three puzzles, all published in the late 1970s or early 1980s. One set illustrates a waterfall, the other shows a puppy and the third is a vintage Coca-Cola advertisement.

Soda Pup

Composed out of pieces from two puzzles produced in 1979 and 1980, this witty work depicts a very elegant puppy enjoying a glass of five cent Coca-Cola, thus its name: Soda Pup.

The artist has ingeniously combined different elements to build a truly unique and, above all, absolutely surreal composition. The puppy’s head is joined with the pale white silhouette of a female body holding an elegant tea glass filled with Coca-Cola.

To Make Much of Time (Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May)

To Make Much of Time (Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May) is the name of this elegant piece made of two puzzle sets from the 1990s. One puzzle showcases a collection of clocks, while the other is dedicated to Victorian ephemera.

The title of this work refers to the 17th-century poem “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick, and the subtitle is the poem’s well-known opening line.

Daisy Bindi

Daisy Bindi unites two lovely motifs — a beautiful cat with striking eyes and a vibrant floral arrangement — into a single unique, powerful and incredibly playful creation. This mosaic was made from the pieces of three small puzzles published in 1987.

What makes this piece particularly interesting is its use of the darker puzzle pieces as background for the composition which not only helps to give it depth but also helps highlight the contrast.

Timekeeper

Timekeeper is an exciting composition created from two small puzzles. The predominant lower half shows a giant redwood, while the upper portion reveals the emerging features of the Elizabeth Tower, known by most as Big Ben.

Joined together in a new combination, these puzzle pieces create a wonderful image that honors the concept of time with two powerful elements: One of the world’s most famous clocks and an giant of the forest that often reaches an age that can be measured in hundreds of years.

Schools (Fishing For Answers)

The name of this incredibly creative work is Schools, with the witty subtitle of Fishing For Answers. The piece is made from two puzzles published in the 1970s. One set depicts a comical down-on-his-luck fisherman and the other shows the answers to a crossword puzzle.

Klein lists this as a personal favorite. “I like the fact that the school at the lower left has “arcana” at its core. (Aristotelian arcana, no less!)”

Pareidolia

Pareidolia is created from the same two 1970s puzzle sets the artist used in his King of the Road artwork. In this case, they are illustrating the burial mask of one of the most famous Egyptian pharaohs, Tutankhamun, combined with the grill of a transport truck.

These creatively re-thought puzzles form an unusual composition titled Pareidolia, which is an intriguing psychological phenomenon of perceiving (or having the tendency to perceive) various shapes, patterns and faces where none actually exist.

White Elephant (Present and Future)

White Elephant is a more than appropriate title for a piece that illustrates a two-faced, but still adorable, cat sneaking out of a gift box. The title refers to a funny (and usually awkward) white elephant gift exchange, also known as Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa.

The Present and Future subtitle indicates the deeper meaning, where at first something appears to be  gift later becomes a burden. This artwork was made from pieces of two puzzles published in 1978 and 1980.

Horde

Horde is made from two copies of the same puzzle published in 1973, and represents a sort of homage to an 1890 painting titled Dismounted: The Fourth Troopers Moving the Led Horses.

While working on this piece, Klein discovered that even though the two puzzles had the same cut pattern, they had been run through the die cutter upside down with respect to each other, enabling him to re-join the two in this surreal composition.

Thaw (Warm Breath on a Winter Window)

Thaw (Warm Breath on a Winter Window) is created from pieces that came from two puzzle sets produced in the late ’60s showcasing scenes from the four seasons, as painted by Paul Detlefsen.

One puzzle set is an illustration of a winter landscape, while the other depicts the same area in springtime. “It’s as if you, seeing the winter scene through a window, have breathed upon the glass and magically revealed a glimpse of the warm spring to come,” explains Klein.

Prey

Titled Prey, this piece was made for a group exhibition called “Show Some Emotion” at Gallery 360 in Vancouver, Washington. According to Tim Klein, this work represents the emotion of “mortal terror.”

This amazing mosaic, whose unusual composition perfectly complements the striking emotion the artist was aiming for, is made from two puzzles. The pieces have the same cut pattern, but they had been run through the cutting machine rotated 180 degrees with respect to each other.

How the West Was Won

How the West Was Won is the title of a classic American western from 1962. Its story follows four generations of the Prescott family as they travel from western New York to the Pacific Ocean. How does it relate to all of this?

Made from a couple of puzzle sets, this colorful creation joins together a cow, lovely sunflowers and industrial machinery in a surreal composition that could act as a simplified explanation of how far people have  come and how we plan on pushing ourselves into the future.

Were-Rabbit

The fans of a gigantic, ravenous and veggie-devouring rabbit that only appears during a full moon will immediately recognize this artwork as a fantastic homage to Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit videogame and animated movie.

This puzzle collage, Were-Rabbit, is made from the pieces of two small puzzles. One puzzle set is showing a rabbit while the other is an image of a dinosaur under a full moon.

World Citizen

World Citizen is born from combining two puzzles, one depicting an elephant, the other a tiger. Joined together, they make a peculiar creature, the likes of which can probably only be seen in Klein’s art portfolio.

With the body of the striped predator and a head made from parts of both animals — the tiger’s piercing eyes are placed on an elephant’s ears — this mighty beast is not only a captivating sight but an original take on the global citizenship concept.

Bow Wow

Bow Wow not only bears a fun title but it’s also one of the more humorous works of this puzzle artist. Conceived as a diptych, this artwork is made from two small puzzles published in the 1980s.

The two halves of Bow Wow are inverses; each one was made from all of the pieces that were not used in the other. It premiered at a circus-themed group exhibition at the Splendorporium gallery in Portland, Oregon.

A Modest Proposal for the Increase of Attendance at Classical Music Concerts

This playful artwork is another unique and mesmerizing mosaic made from two puzzles published in the 1980s. One features an illustration of a trumpet, while the other shows cookies flying out of a cookie jar. In this interpretation, the cookies are being ejected directly from the horn.

Together they make a classically elegant, but at the same time fun and whimsical composition with an even funnier title: A Modest Proposal for the Increase of Attendance at Classical Music Concerts.

The Dance of the Bathroom Cleaning Fairies

When a jigsaw puzzle showcasing a group of four elegant ballet dancers in their swaying snow-white dresses meets another puzzle set depicting a bathroom scene, the ballerinas get entirely new roles and unexpectedly become cleaning fairies. At least, that’s what happens in this fun puzzle collage entitled The Dance of the Bathroom Cleaning Fairies.

This unusual work that now seems to showcase ballerinas scrubbing the loo is created from two puzzles published in the 1980s.

Pig Jaw Suzzle #1

We’ve already seen how creative and inspiring Tim Klein’s mastery of puzzle rearrangement can be, but when this artist plays with two or more animal puzzle sets the resulting work is absolutely incredible.

What we have here is Pig Jaw Suzzle #1, and it is made from a couple of puzzles that feature a cute green frog and an adorable piglet. Combined together they make an extremely odd creature that looks like the offspring of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.

Pig Jaw Suzzle #2

With Pig Jaw Suzzle #2, Klein continues his series of work that shows unusual creatures, usually created from the fragments of two or three animal puzzle sets. This particular one combines a piglet and an owl in the most peculiar way.

These types of creations could be perceived not only as a hilarious comment on the animal kingdom but also the way Mother Nature sometimes works — surprisingly off track and completely unexpected.

T' rainosaurus Rex

T’ rainosaurus Rex is an interesting play on both the featured images and their names. This colorful combo is made from two puzzle sets: one portraying an angry Tryrannosaurus rex, the other an old-fashioned steam train.

Together they make an incredibly original and creatively surreal composition that can easily fascinate not only fans of Jurassic Park’s mega-dinosaurs but those people who have an appreciation of the engineering stylings of classic trains.

Mirage

This piece is known as Mirage. It is made from two puzzles published in the 1970s; one showing a truck, the other a maze. Mirage combines the realistic image of an imposing 18 wheeler and the highly geometrized pattern of an endless maze.

After being rearranged by Tim Klein, these puzzles reveal a new dimension and a true mirage of two overlapping worlds — the beautiful reality of nature combined with the wonderful realm of abstraction.

The Last Night, by Leonardo da Vincent

The Last Night, by Leonardo da Vincent is a piece that brings together two great artists, Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh, through their paintings The Last Supper (da Vinci) and Starry Night (Van Gogh).

Although these works may seem an odd pairing, looking at the paintings from their time period and style, their symbolism is absolutely harmonious. This goes along with the amalgam title made up of the two original paintings’ titles and the names of the artists.