The family gathering

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Family is important. It's where you go when life gets hard, when you need support or simply when you need to feel loved and taken care of. It's where you go when you feel like the cold winter is never going to end. Family is there, for you, when nobody else is listening to you.

You may have been born in a family, or you may have become part of one later on in your life. It doesn't matter, it doesn't change anything. The love of your family will always warm your heart up and protect you in difficult times. And then, before you even realise it, the harsh winter is behind you and the sun is shining again.

Family plays an important role in socialization and...can take a lot of forms. We are all directly or indirectly affected by this ancient institution, no matter who or what we are. And when it comes to personalised puzzles, chances are that sooner or later you will find yourself making one related to this topic.

For a long time I have been wondering who would have been a good subject for this project. This question popped up in my mind so many times during my excursions, but I always felt like I hadn't found a satisfying answer to that yet. In the end, does it really matter? Is there any family that is more important than others?

As soon as I took this picture, I felt like I got the answer I was looking for...and the resulting puzzle turned out to be one of the most interesting and funny I have ever done. Family is important because sometimes it is the place where you can just relax and smile without thinking of anything else. I just couldn't stop smiling while doing the differentiated collection of this puzzle. Finding all those small parts of the birds' beaks or slender legs or the swan's long white neck just put me in a constant good mood.

As you might have probably noticed when reading about the Squirrel life, Duck life and Elephant life projects, I like animals. And this picture triggered something in me that other pictures didn't trigger.

Differentiated collection played an important role in this puzzle, as it gave me the direction I needed. I sorted pieces by colour, observing the different macro areas on the background scenery. That helped me realised I should have started from the snowy beach on the bottom rather than from the scattered birds. That beach is basically made of white or light grey pieces only, and they were quickly put together. From that it was easier to move up to the dark blue water and those two big groups of black birds quietly taking a bath. The water they moved created small brown and dark green waves on the picture, helping me orientate and move further up to complete that area. I subsequently focused on the small strip of light blue pieces at the top of the puzzle (the area of the picture with solid ice) and from there it was easier to go down completing the last two macro areas at the centre of the picture (including the scattered birds).

It wasn't the most difficult puzzle I have ever completed, but still presented several challenges that kept me busy and entertained for quite a lot of time. And another puzzle that I struggled to put back in the box.

I just couldn't stop smiling while looking at all those different birds spending their time together. To me it looked like they were all talking to each other, discussing the latest events in their lives. To me it looked like a bizarre, unusual but somewhat happy family.



DIMENSIONS 96,3x68 cm



I was impressed by the quality of this puzzle. The picture came out as I wanted, and the quality of the details was very good (comparable with the quality Ravensburger puts in its personalised puzzles).

The pieces were sturdy like the Ravensburger ones, but a bit smaller in size and, most importantly, glossy. It was the first time I was dealing with a puzzle where a gloss finish was applied, and it was initially a very nice feeling. It protects the print on the puzzle and somehow enhances the colours of the picture.

In addition, the pieces were very smooth and nice to touch.

However, as I progressed with the puzzle the gloss finish became kind of an issue, especially during the evenings when I had to use the artificial light. The surface of this type of puzzles is reflecting the light much more than standard puzzles in which a matte finish is applied, making it much more difficult to see the real colours of the pieces.

In particular it was very challenging for me to distinguish between different shades of blue or white at some point.

If you take a closer look at the below picture, you will notice my dark blue shadow at the centre of the puzzle, on the water area between the two groups of black birds.

This issue raised the difficulty level of this puzzle, but at the same time it honestly led to a couple of unexpected frustrating moments in which I had to rely on my good old friend Mr. Vinyl.

And those were not the only frustrating moments I experienced while putting together this puzzle. Surprisingly enough, on this puzzle I found lots of duplicates. Exchangeable pieces of exactly the same shape, with similar colours and design, that can be easily confused with each other and placed on the wrong part of the puzzle. See the couple of pieces on the below example.

These pieces looked identical at a first glance.

Almost every medium or big size personalised puzzle has at least a couple of duplicates, but I wasn't expecting this amount. On several occasions I had to switch groups of 2-4 pieces after realising they were misplaced. And even after completing the puzzle I felt the need to double check everything, and it turned out to be a good idea because once again I found misplaced pieces that at a first glance fit well.

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