My First DIY Adventure: Puzzle Piece Fail Whale

I started out with a theme idea, and it was put to bed. I started out with a favor idea after I accepted a new theme idea (or lack thereof, really), and it was slowly but surely dying as well. I was beginning to wonder if I should just set out bags of Jordan almonds and call it a day…

After a fairly melodramatic email to Bridesmaid Y lamenting the loss of my puzzle piece favor idea, she responded (like a true BM should, in my opinion) with: “Don’t let the idea die yet!” As the day went on, amidst our normal gossip and such (you wouldn’t think two people who talk 984,907,834,098 times a day and see each other at least once a week would still have things to say to each other, but we really don’t ever stop), we would bounce ideas back and forth off of one another, but nothing would stick.

On my lunch, I was multitasking, like I do best, by shoving food in my mouth and plowing through wedding websites. I returned to Google and found the originally discarded puzzle pieces again, so I went to that website for a second look. I noticed, perhaps a tiny bit ashamedly, for the first time, the two arrows and “6 of 8″ caught my eye.

Image via Hobby Lobby website / The “DUH, self” editing all me, thanks to MSPaint. Just to clarify.

I furiously clicked the arrow and VOILA (for real this time)!

Puzzles01

Image via Hobby Lobby website / FREAKING. WOODEN. PUZZLE. PIECES. I found them!

There aren’t really appropriate words, just a lot of !!!

I immediately emailed Bridesmaid Y, completely in caps, about these puzzle pieces, and my idea to stick a magnet on the back. Hello, place card setting favor, I have been searching for you for oh so long.

She and I did some quick math and, if all goes well, it’ll cost me like $65 total. I hopped on Amazon and bought a few different kinds of magnets (one and two), a hot glue gun, and two packages of the puzzle pieces. I was really excited, thinking I’d try them out and I had plenty of time to perfect my vision. Bonus: It’d be my first real wedding project. Bonus: This is a DIY project I felt like I could accomplish myself.

When they arrived and I went to work, all I could hear in my head was womp womp wooomp.

PuzzleP

Personal photo / The labels will be explained shortly, promise!

The truth? I was so discouraged. They didn’t come out like I wanted them to, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disheartened by it. I know in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal. I gave myself the first of a gazillion “what matters is that you are marrying your soul mate” speeches. But I still felt so mer about it all.

The thing is, when you’re planning a wedding on a budget, you’re automatically in the “cut-corners” mindset. Sometimes, these are easy decisions that work out well, like realizing you don’t need to spend literally thousands on a florist when you can have gorgeous silk flowers for decoration, bouquet, and boutonniere purposes for less than $500 total.

Sometimes discerning the cuttable corners is a big fat “duh” decision, like spending almost $40 on some freaking water bottles with labels or having some labels printed (for under $10, mind you), buying a case of water separately, and placing the labels on the water yourself.

Sometimes, though, the cuttable corners are tough…like trying to figure out how to DIY favors that won’t look cheap, that people will want to take home with them, that aren’t going to take immeasurable amounts of time and effort, etc. For a very super inexperienced and inadequate DIY’er like me, this is a huge challenge.

That’s why I was so excited about the puzzle pieces! I thought that they were SUPER do-able, even for me. It’s very important to us that as much as possible has a meaning or connects to us in some way—not just “oh, these are nice.” Again, this was a huge part of why I was so excited for the puzzle pieces. The day they arrived, I got my glue gun, my magnets, my markers, and my puzzle pieces ready…

Say it with me: womp-womp-freaking-wooomp.

The puzzle pieces themselves were made out of an almost splintery wood, which means that the markers/fancy pens bleed all over them. I initially wanted to have the puzzle pieces put together to make their, you know, puzzle, but when they were put together it was very hard to take them apart without causing the rest of the pieces to fall off of the whiteboard…

See what I mean? It’s almost like the pieces connect TOO much. Determined as freaking ever, I decided to print labels and see how they’d look if pasted (or hot glued, because I’m in love with my hot glue gun) onto the puzzle pieces. Granted, they don’t look TERRIBLE, and I did hand write the names, but they also don’t look…well, how I wanted them to look.

Still playing the conductor-on-the-determined-train game, I took the puzzle pieces apart and decided that I’d just place them in alphabetical order at the reception. This way, it’d be easier for guests to locate their names and tables. I figured I’d write some corny sign stating, “Mr. and Mrs. Palm Tree have always said that they’re like puzzle pieces—separately they look like odds and ends, but when put together they create something complete. Locate your puzzle piece and head to your table to complete your puzzle!” or something similar. (Again, all of this thinking and re-doing occurred in less than an hour and a half.) I played with the arrangements once again:

PuzzleP01

Personal photo / Forgive the scribbles in the background—Mr. Palm Tree uses his whiteboard to track his workouts. When he’s on his fitness game, he’s ON his fitness game. Me? I just like my Dunkin’ Donuts Extra Large Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond Iced Coffee. ;)

PuzzleP02

Personal photo / Forgive the shabby editing, too. MS Paint 4 lyfe.

In the pictures the bleeding isn’t quite as evident, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

After this final rearrangement, I got pretty discouraged. I told myself, “Well, thank goodness both of the magnets work.” I packed everything up, and now they sit in a box in the corner of a closet and I angrily stare at it whenever our paths cross.

Now, I know that I have been freaking harping about how important is to get things done ahead of time. I realize that there are a near immeasurable amount of benefits, one of which being: If something doesn’t work, you don’t have to freak out or beat yourself up because you have time to choose a different idea or tweak it until it does work.

But like I said: Damn oh DAMN, I wanted this idea to work.

Sigh. Bridesmaid Y and I went to a bridal show recently, and I booked our photo-booth vendor. They have an option of table settings/escort cards that announce the idea of the photo booth, and also serve as a frame to their photo strip. Bridesmaid Y pointed out that they could very easily serve as favors, depending on price, which is a great idea…it’s just not my puzzles. We have time and, really, we’re a pretty creative bunch. I’m not worried that we’re going to be favor- and/or place-setting-less as much as I am sad that my idea was a bust, you know?

Dear Favors: You are officially shelved for future consideration. Love, Me.

In the meantime, I guess I can consider this a planning milestone: The first time a plan fell through and I had to start from scratch! My champagne flute is half full, thank you very much.

BLOGGER

Mrs. Palm Tree

Birthday:
March 20
Location:
Pittsburgh, PA
Wedding Date:
May 2013

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  1. Member
    MissTRex 29 posts, Newbee @ 10:52 am

    I have a suggestion you might want to try before you permanently shelve them forever. From the pictures these look like unfinished wood, is that correct? I think these could look a lot more polished if you picked up some wood stain from Home Depot and finished the pieces. They have tons there and they vary from shiny to matt, you could do different color stains for different pieces to create a more varied appearance, or even do a certain stain for each table. Then perhaps instead of marker you could use a silver pen (found at any craft store) to make them look even fancier. A small can of stain isn’t that expensive, so maybe it’s worth a try since you have all these puzzle pieces anyway…

  2. Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 10:54 am

    So I had the exact same problem with my Scrabble letters. I don’t know if you saw that post or not, but basically I want to write with marker/paint on wood that was “splintery” as you put it, but it bled along the grain and didn’t create precise letters.

    It was a pretty easy fix, for us. We just coated the wood in lacquer and then let them dry. Then when we tried to paint on them or color with markers (we used Sharpies) it worked perfectly and didn’t bleed at all. It was an extra step, but I was SO glad it worked!

    That being said, girl if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, and there’s no shame in moving on! That’s why type-A brides like you and me work ahead on projects ;)

  3. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:07 am

    If you want to have a staining party, just let me know. We could do our picnic table while we’re at it… :) lol

  4. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:10 am

    or would they have to be wood color? What if you just painted them in the wedding colors and used a silver marker on top?

    Although I do think BM Y was onto something with the photo booth favors… but you could put the puzzle piece on a ribbon around the photo strip frame also… ;-)

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Karen, Guest @ 11:19 am

    I’m not sure what exactly you are trying to do, since I haven’t gone back and read your previous posts about the puzzle pieces. (lazy)

    I think if you lightly sand the interlocking pieces, that will make them slightly smaller which will make them fit together and pull apart more easily.

    If you’re wanting to put something on top of the puzzle pieces, how about using some pretty scrapbook paper or print out whatever you want… then trace the puzzle shape on to the paper and then Mod Podge it on top of the wood. A couple of coats of Mod Podge on top will seal it and give it a protective and more durable finish… which will cut down on the splintery nature of the balsa wood.

  6. Member
    mspalmtree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:12 pm

    @MissTRex, @Blonde17Jess: I’ve totally considered both the staining and the painting, but the wood itself is really super thin. The painting wouldn’t work or go on smoothly and even though, theoretically, we COULD sand them there’s not really much to sand, if that makes sense? Similar issues with the staining. I really, really appreciate the suggestions, though. <3

    @Miss Lemur: haha, you’re so right! That’s exactly why we work ahead – because when we have to give it the middle finger (how DARE things not work out for us! ;) ), we still have time to find something else. Onward and upward, right?

    @Karen: This is a great idea that I haven’t considered before, honestly! I think I’ve moved on from the puzzle piece idea (I bounce a lot) but I think this would’ve been great. If I decide to re-visit I’m definitely going to try this! Thank you!

  7. Member
    reebs83 164 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:56 pm

    @Karen: +1 this is exactly what I was going to say! I love this idea and I hope you try again with all the ideas the Bees gave you!! Don’t let it die yet!

  8. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 1:57 pm

    The hardest part of wedding DIY was knowing when to fold ‘em. Not every project turns out how we see it in our minds, but thats ok because it usually leads us to an even better idea!

  9. Member
    hyena 2537 posts, Sugar bee @ 2:39 pm

    I agree with the PPs that said to stain them, or even just add some coats of polyurethane if you like the color they are. That will keep them from splintering and might make them easier to write on/print on as well.

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Reagan, Guest @ 3:48 pm

    I got the same puzzle pieces from Hobby Lobby and the easiest thing I found to do with them was to paint over the wood! It only takes one or two coats (depending on the color) and it looks cool when finished! The downside is that the wood soaks up the paint and expands, so putting them together wouldn’t be able to happen :/ Don’t give up yet! I’m sure you’ll find a way to make them fabulous!

  11. Member
    mspalmtree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:32 pm

    @Mrs. Pony: You’re totally right, it’s so frustrating to know that you just have to take a deep breath and walk away. . .into the kitchen, for a glass (or eight) of wine. ;)

    @reebs83, @Mrs. Hyena, @Reagan: Thank you ladies so much for your support, really and truly. I honestly had shelved this idea but these suggestions have been so encouraging and do-able that I’ve been re-considering at least trying them, especially since, as @MissTRex said, I have some already. Hmmmm.

  12. Member
    mspalmtree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:32 pm

    @Reagan: Did you make them into favors or did you use them for another craft? Just curious.

  13. Member
    gotsol 46 posts, Newbee @ 11:09 pm

    I’m not sure what exactly you are trying to do, since I haven’t gone back and read your previous posts about the puzzle pieces. (lazy)

  14. Member
    Teeny287 59 posts, Worker bee @ 8:54 am

    I think you should stick with it! Maybe you put a stain or clear top coat to them. Have you thought about clear stick labels? You could even trace in paint over the clear labels.

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    donna, Guest @ 5:12 pm

    Please let me know if I can help you in any way. I own The Missing Piece Puzzle Company and will gladly help you if you just email me… We love puzzles, and they are our passion so please please please don’t give up on them.

  16. Member
    mspalmtree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:12 am

    @Teeny287: I have thought about the clear labels, but the issue is the wood itself. Gah.

    @donna: Oh my gosh, thank you SO much! I’ll definitely keep this in mind & potentially be in touch. I really appreciate this!

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