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Puzzle Talk with Ensemble Publisher Rebecca Wadey

In time with the new Lettuce x Ensemble puzzle launching in stores, we sat down with Ensemble Magazine's publisher Rebecca Wadey to discuss the inspiration behind the Cherry on Top puzzle, her fascination with puzzles and her tips for puzzle beginners

Rebecca was the creative force behind The Cherry on Top puzzle. The puzzle features an ensemble of talent, nail artist Tanya Barlow, set designer Christopher Stratton, stylist and photographer Kate Battersby, a cake by local Insta-stars Zi and baubles from Meadowlark and Camille Paloma Walton. The ultimate fantasy from the puzzle-obsessed minds of Ensemble.

Where did your hobby for puzzles begin?

Doing puzzles started as a way to spend less time on my phone. I often felt like I was watching TV with the kids but only half watching, and scrolling my phone instead. So, I took up puzzling as a 'healthy' way of spending time happily unplugged. And quickly discovered that I found it incredibly rewarding and energising.

Can you share with us the inspiration behind the Cherry on Top puzzle scene?

I'm a huge fan of the nail art created by Tanya Barlow and also the modern breed of Insta-cakes that look so frothy and fun. So we combined the two and looked at creating a colourful, surreal scene around them that also showcased a variety of local jewellers.

What is it that you enjoy most about puzzling?

I see it as an active meditation and a great metaphor for life. I sometimes feel myself panicking when a puzzle is too hard or overwhelming, and I have to make myself calm down and break it down into smaller parts. Solving lots of little problems as a way of overcoming a large problem is such a great metaphor for life!Is there anything that stands out to you that makes a great puzzle?

My favourite puzzles are those that set a scene and have several puzzles hidden inside them. I also like them to be slightly surrealist, surprising or unexpected. I'm not a huge fan of the traditional watercolour scenes (although I would do them on a holiday). Most importantly they have to be amazing quality - nothing makes me madder than a puzzle where the pieces don't 'click' properly so you're not sure if you're putting it together correctly. The quality of Lettuce Puzzles was a big factor in our wanting to work with them!

Do you have any tips for the puzzle beginners out there or those looking to get into it?

Be prepared to do the admin before you get started. The more effort you put in at the beginning the 'easier' the puzzle is. You have to do the mahi before you can reap the rewards! Sort all your edges and then separate all the pieces into colours and prints etc. I used to work with lots of dinner plates all around me with the pieces sorted; now I have wooden stacking trays. Do the edges first then find the biggest shape or colour that comes off of them and build from there. If you get stuck, take one colour or print and create mini puzzles, then work on fitting them all together. Start with a 500 piece puzzle before working your way up to the bigger ones. Leave large patches like sky (or the dark curtain on Cherry on the Top) until the end. Choose puzzles that have a lot of different colours and prints as they will be easier. Set your puzzle in a place where small children can't touch it, try and have your own space. Most importantly, choose a puzzle that pleases you to look at. It has to feel lovely to look at for potentially a long time!


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