A new Sydney-based jigsaw company has attracted attention of the puzzle community: Pennywinks, founded by IT professional Phillip with his wife. A reluctant devotee of jigsaws, he was lured to the pastime several years ago by his wife,and during lockdown, found not only a “side hustle” (as he calls it),but also a way to channel his creativity.
“I wanted to create characters of different worlds to get absorbed in,” says Phillip, which led to the creation of The Pennywinks, a mischievous character who serves as rambunctious guide through the puzzle, and uses his signature purple top–hat as a portal to the multiverse.
The first puzzle the company has produced is The Witches Lair, in which The Pennywinks visits a world of witches. Non-jigsawers can skip the next bit, as it involves some of the joys and frustrations of completing a jigsaw puzzle of 1000 pieces.
As Phillip explains, the puzzle art is specifically designed for jigsaws, offering a colour palette across three panels and the occasional clue, such as a spider leg here and there. And there is also a narrative, explaining the backstory of the Pennywinks as an accompanying leaflet in the puzzle.
Phillip hired artists to bring his puzzles to life, and says it took about 100 hours to refine the images into his imaginings, from prototype to design and onto manufacture. “My vision of the art was quite specific,” he says. “We had to find some good artists and make it happen.”
Phillip and his wife, who also works in IT and works more on the business and marketing side of the enterprise, searched for the right manufacturer to create solid puzzles. “The feedback is that the quality is up there with the best brands.” The process took about a year from concept to box design. For now, the puzzle retails online, with three more planned, and an eventual move towards retailing in shops.
Working from home during lockdown, Phillip used jigsawing as a non-mindless distraction. “It’s a nice way to take a break; you’re still sorting problems out, but still in a mental space to be creative. It’s nice to have time away from the screen.”
Also during lockdown, the couple accumulated “a hell of a lot of puzzles. The house is full of them. We’re running out of space, we have about 20 to get through.”