Monday, 5 October 2015

Artefacts

I don't know about the rest of you puzzlers out there but I think Artefacts is one of nicest and most unusual looking packing puzzles around.

Artefacts made its debut at the IPP35 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition just this August in Ottawa, Canada. Its the design of Japan based French Canadian Frederic Boucher, who previously came up with the Marble Cake which was quite a hit with the puzzle community. 


Challenge #2 - Pack the 5 pieces flat around the brass rod. Notice the half-units!
Artefacts is made of 4 contrasting coloured exotic hardwoods; Paduak, Maple and Cherry for the tray and Ebony for the 5 wooden pieces. All the 5 pieces are irregular shaped and consists of glued blocks with both whole and half-units, something that Frederic is pretty fond of incorporating into his designs. What's unusual is also that the puzzle contains a 6th piece which is a solid brass rod. The combination of dark Ebony pieces contrasting with shiny brass makes Artefacts stand out amongst other wooden and acrylic 2D packing puzzles. Construction fit and finish is excellent and the puzzle has a very high quality feel. What I understand from Frederic is that he has the pieces and blocks of the puzzle cut by someone else but he hand-glues the tray and pieces and does the finishing himself.

Dimensional-wise it measures about 9.5cm x 9.5cm.

Visual appearance aside, Artefacts also scores well from the puzzling perspective. It has two challenges.The first is to place all 6 pieces (including the brass rod) flat into the tray. The second challenge involves planting the brass rod vertically into a hole at the centre of the tray and then to fit the remaining 5 wooden pieces flat in.

One would have thought that packing 6 pieces into a tray would be more difficult than 5 but in fact for Artefacts, the opposite seems to apply. I managed to pack the 6 pieces flat into the tray pretty quickly (there are 3 possible solutions; maybe that's why its easier). But I struggled nearly a week with the second challenge; packing the 5 wooden pieces around the brass rod, before I gave up and looked at the solution. The second challenge has only one solution! Burr Tools will not help here.

While its a pity it didn't manage to win any awards at IPP35, overall its a great puzzle no less (and a winner in my books). Packing puzzle enthusiasts would definitely love this one! If you would like an Artefacts, please PM me for Frederic's contact. He makes limited quantities of his designs from time to time.

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