Wednesday, 27 July 2011


I first came upon the Onion in George Miller's website PuzzlePalace. I emailed George asking if I could buy the Onion and Tangerine puzzles, but he replied to say that he longer manufactures puzzles and that his site is only left active for people requiring solutions to the puzzles featured on PuzzlePalace. However George was kind enough to introduce me to Vesa Timonen, the designer of the Onion, and suggested to Vesa to upload his Onion design onto the Shapeways site and see if a working model could be made. Vesa did as George suggested and after some weeks received his prototype. The prototype must have been ok as Vesa subsequently listed the Onion (and Tangerine) puzzles for sale at his online shop on Shapeways and these two are currently available for order. My Onion came delivered by UPS several weeks thereafter. If you order something from Shapeways, it seems only after the order has been accepted will they start to manufacture the item; nothing is ready in stock.

The Onion puzzle is indeed shaped and looks almost like a real onion, but much smaller at around 13/4 inches in diameter and 11/4 inches thick. It is made of the material that Shapeway describes on their site as "White, Strong, Flexible & Polished". I believe it to be some sort of resin or plastic (although I cannot be sure). The puzzle is well manufactured and all the pieces fit properly and are nice and smooth (important for the Onion). Whatever the material is, it feels tough and durable, although the white colour tends to stain quite easily.

The object of the puzzle is to "peel" the layers of the Onion out from inside the shell...unlike a real onion. My Onion arrived in a solved state; ie all the 5 inner pieces were already separated. It was not overly difficult to fit the pieces together back inside the shell but removing them again was much more challenging. Certainly not that easy at all and I grappled with the puzzle for a good while before finally removing all the inner pieces. As with any puzzle, there is a way to solve the Onion without using any force or extraction tools.

Vesa Timonen's Onion dwarfed by its real cousin
As I understand, Shapeways' items usually come un-coloured (ie white) unless you specify one of their many coloured finishes. In the case of the Onion, this is just as well since white is quite an appropriate colour for the puzzle, so one need not pay extra for colour nor go through the messy trouble of dyeing.

Overall the Onion is a decent looking puzzle, pretty unusual I would say (both in name and design), against the plethora of puzzles out there. From the puzzling aspect, it also poses a reasonable challenge.


  1. It is great to know both of these puzzles are available. I missed them first time around when George sold them and I thought that auctions would be the only source from now on. Good find Jerry and thanks to Vesa and George!

  2. Yes, when George mentioned that he didn't produce puzzles anymore, I thought I couldn't get one also, but thanks to Vesa for offering it on Shapeways.