Looking at the symmetrical elegance of Doug Engel’s EZ Unlink it’s not hard to see that he has an interest in the intersection between puzzles and sculpture. American artist George Odom’s 4-Triangle Sculpture was the inspiration for Doug’s puzzle. That sculpture consisted of four interlocking triangles with the midpoints of the three edges of each triangle fitting into the inner corners of the other three.
EZ Unlink unlinked
EZ Unlink linked
Similarly, EZ Unlink is comprised of four interlocking triangles; three of them have two slots each into which the other triangles fit. The fourth triangle functions as the key piece that locks and unlocks the puzzle. Doug explained, “There is also a set of three triangles invented by English sculptor John Robinson none of which are linked but held together similar to the Borromean rings. There were some puzzles using the Odom design at IPP gatherings. The ones I saw used magnets at the ends of dowels or wooden slats. These assemble into the linkage of George Odom and are not necessarily easy to do even if you have a drawing to go by.”
In contrast, Doug designed EZ Unlink so that, like the name suggests, it would be an easy puzzle to take apart and reassemble. “The idea was to make the pieces as triangles with slots. This means it is not a link system but is an ‘unlink’ since there are no links when assembled.”
EZ Unlink is part of a series of symmetrical puzzles that includes EZ Atom, EZ Galaxy and the recently released EZ 1. Doug said, “The idea was to make puzzles that are not so hard, are nice to look at and display, and represent a fun challenge that anyone can succeed at. Puzzles are a branch of fine art. [Miguel] Berrocal’s sculpture puzzles are fine art and very valuable. Continue reading
Tom Longtin’s Trefoil Knot occupies an interesting space in the puzzle world. Part puzzle, part sculpture, part mathematical curiosity, it is a DIY kit composed of 24 L-shaped pieces that fit together to create a three-dimensional trefoil knot.
The kit contains instructions to piece it together and there are additional puzzle challenges that involve colouring the pieces and rearranging them outlined on Tom’s website, Fulcrum Design.
Tom has channeled his mathematical interests through creating DIY sculpture kits which he hopes will “engage hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, spatial comprehension and patience.” He added, “I’m amazed at how many people, handed a finished knot, insist it’s two pieces interlinked somehow and wonder what keeps them from touching.” Continue reading
Yavuz Demirhan is one of the most prolific puzzle designers around, putting out new creations every few days. Between 24 April 2011 and 21 September 2014 he published 370 puzzle designs and there is no sign of him slowing down.
Yavuz has had an interest in puzzles since he was young. As he explained in an email interview conducted between February and July 2014, “I was always busy as a child, handling and working with wooden blocks in a variety of ways. Creating and building shapes was natural to me, and was a conduit to express my creativity and expression. Whenever I was involved in such activities, I felt connected with a deep sense of fulfilment.”
Yavuz’s introduction to the world of wooden puzzle making is connected to a trip he took to Mexico in 2001 to work with disabled children as part of a university social project. The project lasted for around two months and afterwards Yavuz decided to move to Mexico, living in the city of Juchitán de Zaragoza in the state of Oaxaca. Located in Southwestern Mexico it is home to many indigenous Zapotecs. Continue reading
“My career as a puzzle designer and maker is very closely tied to my lifelong interest in woodworking,” Allan Boardman wrote in an email interview conducted in June 2014. “The marriage of these two passions came about when my father introduced me to mechanical puzzles when I was five or six years old. I was already an avid model builder, wannabe woodworker, miniature enthusiast, and very early I saw the wonderful possibilities of making my own puzzles.”
Allan is known in the mechanical puzzle community for his work producing micro or miniature puzzles, which have been made almost exclusively from wood. The smallest mechanical puzzle he ever made was a 1.5mm three-piece burr but his all-time smallest puzzle was a crossword.
“A number of years ago, I made ‘The World’s Smallest Puzzle’ for Martin Gardener – it was a two-by-two crossword puzzle etched on a very small portion of the head of a common straight pin. It could not be viewed by naked eye nor any optical microscope, only by using a scanning electron microscope – truly ridiculous.” Continue reading