Showing posts with label burr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label burr. Show all posts

Monday, April 6, 2015

Le Astronaute

Today i give you yet another Berrocal.
Astronaute hommage á jules verne (1979-1980)
I paid a small fortune for this puzzle, but it was well worth it.  I'd seen it before on the internet and was intrigued.  When fellow puzzler Jim was cataloguing his puzzles, I asked him for a disassembled photo of it.  He obliged and I jumped on the puzzle!  This girl loves her Berrocal's and when it's jewelry!  Even better.

The puzzle consists of 35 pieces.  Sadly, when I received mine 2 of them were missing but it's not a problem. I have already gone to the jewelers and am having them made.  The missing pieces are the holders for the earring balls.  Not a large missing piece and easily replaced thanks to the photos in the book.
Mine is number 308.  I'll be honest, it took me a long time to find the number. I must be blind.  I looked and looked and while chatting with a fellow puzzler just stumbled across it.  Not a noticeable number like on the other Berrocal's I have.   The dimensions follow:

130x162 mm
Head 66x108mm
1000 bronze exemplars, The rings are silver.
200 silver exemplars (I've just been told these have been changed to stainless steel not silvr-thanks Jim) and
6 18k gold exemplars.  It was made using lost-wax molding.  Which is different from the other Berrocal's I have.  The rest are cast.

This puzzle starts out with the removal of three chokers.  After the removal of those comes the removal of 3 bracelets.  After that it pretty much falls apart.  This one isn't a difficult puzzle to take apart or put together, but it was fun every minute of the way.

The next part of the sculpture makes up a divers helmet. Pretty neat. It is pictured to the left in it's stand alone position.

Once the helmet is removed, you can take out the brain and the face. The eyes come out next followed by the cheeks. As I write this, I can't help but think of butchering a human-Hannibal Lector style.  What a horrid thought.  The eyes are 2 silver rings that are enameled and the cheeks are made up of a folding ring.  One side is a moon and the other is the sun  The two pieces have a clasp that holds them together. Both the brain and the face can be worn either as pendants or as charms on the bracelets.  They can also be connected together.

Under the parts of the head, there are a few parts that make up a rocket ship that can take you to the moon.  This puzzle just keeps getting better and better doesn't it.  Pretties to wear AND a rocket!

Below the Rocket base is a set of three round plates.  Each of these can be made into a pendant. These have cylindrical and conical anamorphoses of a male torso which are viewed using special cylindrical and conical mirrors contained within the sculpture.  The mirrors are the upper most parts of the rocket ship shown to the left.

I attempted to photograph the pieces, but I cant do it justice so I've added a photo from the book.

Below you can see the jewelry all put together. The base that the sculpture stands on can be used to hold the 3 pendants.  A very clever design if I've ever seen one.  The genius of Berrocal never ceases to amaze me.  And because of this, I know I'll be hunting down more....

 As a final set of photos, I have put some of the various pieces of jewelry on.  I just love my Berrocals!

As a final treat, thanks to Oli, I've put together a video of the puzzle being put together. It's a bit shaky, and I warn you, it's long!  Enjoy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

And then there were three

Berrocal Micro's that is.

Anyone who reads my blog and some of the random rubbish I post on Facebook will realize that I have been on a bit of a mission collecting the Berrocal Mini puzzles.  I managed to win Micro-David a few years back and have been looking for Micheline X, Micro-Maria, and Micromento ever since.

Well, I did it.  I found 2 of them!  Both were sold through auction houses recently, and I can now say I have only Micromento to look for.  (I know, I know.  That won't be the end of my collecting, but it will be the completion of the set.)

I was asked if the micro puzzles are the same as the mini puzzles and the answer is yes, but no.  They have a similar outward appearance, but the insides are just a bit different.

The first biggest difference between the micro's and the mini's is the ring. The rings inside each of the micros is a mesh band that can be folded around one of the internal pieces.  In the Mini puzzles, they are a solid banded ring.  The micro rings are a size 6 while the mini's have a 6.5 or 7 depending on the puzzle.

Starting with David, the Mini David has 22 pieces while the micro has only 17.  David was injection molded in 1968, while micro-David-off was made in 1971.

Michelle has 17 pieces while Micheline X has 23.  Michelle was produced in 1969 and Micheline X was made from 1975-1976.

Maria has 23 elements in both the mini and micro edition.  Maria was made in 1968-1969 while the micro version was made in 1973.

These are beautiful additions to any collection.  I highly recommend them to one and all!  I can be seen sporting these puzzles at puzzle parties worldwide, and love to have my friends share the pleasure of taking them apart. If you happen to see me with one, ask and I'll gladly hand it over for disassembly.

For more information on Berrocal, please see his website.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013


In March I went to Thailand for a conference before I went to Singapore.  The week before I went I posted on twisty puzzles asking for puzzle shops in Thailand. I didn't get any replies so I went on my conference thinking I would find no shops or meet with no people. When I was in Thailand my colleagues and I tried some Thai whiskey and I posted a photograph of that on Facebook. I later received a message from Traiphum on Facebook asking if I would like to meet him.  

By the time I receive this I was already in Singapore but I I lucked out and he was staying in Bangkok for a couple of extra days when I returned the following week I met him on Monday at the hotel. 

For me this was quite funny because when I was when I was in the tuk-tuk the tuk-tuk driver kept telling us that we had four people and there were only three.  When I got to the hotel they told me my friend was waiting for me I had no idea what they were talking about I was confused because I thought they were saying I had to pay for another person in the room.  (the Tuk-tuk driver was in my head and I thought I had an imaginary friend that everyone but me could see)  Anyway I met with Traiphum. He brought many of his custom-made puzzles to show me and I also met his girlfriend I think her name was NeeNee but if I got it wrong I'm very sorry.  

His work is absolutely amazing!   I have one of his puzzles, but only one because they are quite expensive they run around US$150 and can go upwards of US$400 for one puzzle I enjoyed playing with them and I really liked meeting him.  A very very nice man. We sat and talked for about an hour before he had to catch a bus to go back to his hometown.  I was very happy because we were late the plane left a little bit later than it should have and I was over one hour late but he waited for me.  It was very kind of him to do so.  

The puzzles of his that I saw were some new ones that he was building and the number of old ones that he had just completed. He brought along and all almost 10 x 10 x 6 that he'd completed a 7 x 7 pyramid type puzzle, a 6 x 6 x 4 OLz'd puzzle and and the helicopter not the helicopter the Megamix cube that he had been working on. He also pulled out a 6 x 6 x 6 cube with bigger bits on the outside and smaller bits in the inside I don't know the name of that one but I'll post a photo of it anyway here and he showed me another one that he had been working on and it's a 9 x 9 x 3 with hidden layers he's just an absolutely amazing builder identified by 5 x 3 that I saw of his.  

He let Katherine muck up some cubes.  It was very nice of him to show me how he makes the puzzles so he brought out one that he was still working on and he said he does all the cutting and his girlfriend does all the fine work.   There's a photo here is one of the puzzles in a partial state very nice of him but he told me I could post it here for everyone to see.  All in all it was a really fun hour or two that we have spent together just looking at his puzzles I felt very bad because we were on holiday and I didn't bring any puzzles with me because I know in Thailand it's very very easy to get wooden puzzles and I didn't want the extra weight because I wanted to bring toys back with me.

After he left we checked into the hotel room and we took off for Road We Were Staying near That Area and Having Stayed There You Know 20 Years Ago When We Were Young I Knew I Would Be Able to Find Puzzles over in That Area.

I found lots of burr puzzles a couple of packing puzzles mostly mostly burst some of that the pyramids with the balls that you put together a couple of twisting barrel type puzzles a number of pegged jumping puzzles.  These are very typical of what you'll find in Thailand unfortunately for me I had all of these from many visits that I had taken previously.  Altogether I spent about a week and a half in Thailand and  I came home with absolutely nothing new.

Bug wanted to buy a T-shirt so I took her out to some of the night markets to look for T-shirts and of course we found puzzles there as well again with the wooden puzzles there was nothing new I found nothing I didn't already half but we didn't find a number of cyclone puzzles that were being used as lights they were in packages with varying in size from maybe 1 inch 2 foot and a half across. These range from one US dollar to about US$20 very cheap puzzles but because I have some already I didn't buy any of these either.

 I didn't see one puzzle that I have not had before and it was called a rocket ship I think there were about 13 pieces in it. I didn't buy this one. It wasn't expensive it was about HK$100 but it's a very large puzzle I am in total it was about a foot and a half tall for 13 pieces and this is just a bit too big for what I was looking for and my suitcase was already fairly full so... 

 I just decided that next trip I'll look again and maybe buy that rocket ship.   I'm going again next summer for another conference and I'll buy it then.  Thailand overall is a nice place to visit but as far as puzzles for me it was empty. It was dead. Bad. But I did get some nice jewelry so it wasn't a busted trip after all.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mini Zoraida

Still on my hunt for the Berrocal minis.  This time I managed to get a copy of Mini-Zoraida!  She too was a steal. In my hunting, I know I could go to a certain seller in the UK and probably get the rest of the set that I am missing, but the fun for me is in the hunt. And no, I don't mean just going to eBay and winning an online auction.  Have you seen the prices over there?  They are insane!  The puzzle here is now on sale for $3000!   Good luck to the seller, And to the buyer....I'll sell you mine for that price.  
 Ok, enough being snarky. On to the puzzle.  Unlike Michelle, Zoraida came into my home boxed and beautiful!  I had no cleaning up to do.  The previous owner loved and cared for her as dearly as I will.  

You will notice there are two stands with her as well.  One raises the sculpture 1 1/2" above the table, the other raises her a foot.  I think we'll stick with the shorter one.  This copy came with a book as well. I'm a bit suspect though because there is no edition number written in this book.  Not a problem I guess in the greater scheme of things.  The puzzle has 25 pieces to it and as with all the other Berrocal minis, it's slightly risque.  Zoraida is a woman who has her arms wrapped around her bust.  She has no head and I'm sure you can find a joke in there somewhere. As usual, there is also a ring inside, and this time, it makes up her breasts.  I'm taking a guess here, but I think the rock inside is 2 moonstones.  

To unlock her is just a treat.  Her topmost shoe is a key!  Seriously.  Slide it down and pull it out and the puzzle will come to pieces.    As you can see from the photo below, I haven't gotten far in the disassembly.  I brought it out of the box for a few photographs, brought her to yet another newspaper interview, and then put her back on the shelf.  Time is the real issue for me, not lack of desire.  Although, she is in such pristine condition I'm almost afraid to handle her.  Which reminds me....I need to go get some more plastic boxes for these things.  The weather.....

My only complaint about this puzzle is that it was sold as number 399.  When I opened it up and took off the base I discovered she is 3996!  I took it up with the seller who claimed ignorance.  Well there is a huge difference!  399 would have been a silver edition.  Instead I got the nickle and brass one.  I did manage a price difference rebate though.  I mean I didn't get what I paid for.  I'm still happy with her all the same though.  Like Michelle, she's beautiful and she looks good on my shelf too!

Again, I would recommend taking a look at John's webpage for more information.  I also found some nice drooling e-books here, here, and here.  If you want hard copies of these, they are available at various places, but start at around US$50 and go upwards of 200.  Real coffee table books these are!

*Even if I didn't love the look of these puzzles, I'd love them just because he's toking away in almost every photo in his workshop.  Nothing wrong with a good cigar while puzzling!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Micro David

I've been on a mission since bringing Michelle home. I am hunting for all the Berrocal miniatures. (I'd love some of the full sized ones but my house just won't hold a puzzle of that size)

Miguel Oritz Berrocal  (1933-2006) was a Spaniard who moved to Italy to set up a foundry to manufacture his puzzle torsos.  From what information I have been able to gather, the largest, Goliath has 88 pieces and Otra and Otto are the smallest with 4 pieces each.  The miniatures that I have been hunting all run around 20+ pieces.

In my hunt for these little treasures I discovered that Berrocal made micro pendants as well as some other jewelry. Now I don't plan on getting all of these as well, only two have caught my eye; Many More horses and David. I don't expect to get the horses any time soon as I've seen so few of them at any auction houses. (if anyone finds one let me know please!)

Back to David. He's beautiful! I managed to find this one at an insanely low price and couldn't pass it up. Besides that, what girl wouldn't want a naked mans torso hanging around her neck?  Check out that spine!  And those solid shoulders?  BEAUTIFUL as I said.

Like all of these miniature Berrocal's, David is a puzzle. He is made up of 16 pieces including the base. And like others in the mini series, David also sports a mesh ring inside.  (the miniatures have a solid ring, and as best I can figure from my sizer, it's about a size 5)  For those of you with small enough fingers (this one is probably a size 4) who want to wear it, I would advise against it. See, in David's case the ring is made up of his genitalia. Not a huge problem, but people notice these things. Since I got him I've had more people comment on his bits than I have had notice any other necklace I've ever worn.

He's an easy lad to take apart and put back together again.  To disassemble him, you unscrew the bit at the top that holds the cord.  His shoulders come off first, and then the top two chest pieces slide over the top.  His heart can be removed next, and as a guess I'm going to say it looks to me to be coral.  The other side of his chest cavity needs removing and then the lower abdomen can be removed followed by the ring assembly and the genitalia.  Finally, his thighs (and buttocks) can be unscrewed from the base.  A very simple puzzle as far as these go.  To reassemble, the pieces only go in one way-I know, that's what puzzles do-but in this case, it's all just sliding down on the main center column.  I did have a bit of a hitch when I put the heart back in place.  There was a need for a bit of wiggling.  When he's completely put back together, he is still a bit loose.  It seems his base and the hanging bit need to be lined up in some way.

I sit here researching the sculptor so I could give you a bit of information on him and as I do so, I've come across two very wonderful pages.  One by an educator I've had the privilege to meet.  And the other by a puzzle collector I one day soon wish to visit so I can play with his Berrocal's.  Both of these pages have me drooling and turning green with envy. It seems I need to find a different line of work, or finish that funny hat.  These things are expensive if you don't know where to look!  In the mean time I continue my hunt....

Average prices on this one range from US$550 to US$1000 depending on where you go hunting.

Only 3 more miniatures to go.

As an aside, I am looking for the dimensions of Alexander.  How tall is he?  I have found one at a decent price, but if he's larger than the miniatures I'll have to pass him up.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A box of burr bits

I saw this pictures of sticks over on A puzzle forum I browse regularly and later saw a battalion of burrs on Facebook and thought I'd be cheeky and order one. Lucky me! About a week later I got a bill and a request for a mailing address.   I felt lucky to get it because the designer didn't make that many.  I think it might have been only 8 sets.

Jack did a wonderful job on these!  When the box came in, The first thing I did was feel that burr inlay on the cover.  See, I thought I would be able to feel it, but it is so smooth that I can't feel a thing.  Very nice work.  I spent a bit of time looking at the outside box.  It really is nice.  The fit of the cover is fantastic.  So much so that I found a bag to put it in so it wouldn't get all scratched up.

Time to open it up and see what is inside! Upon opening, I was in for a surprise. There are 42 different burr pieces in there.  It's such a chuckle for me to see this.  I'll be honest, I was expecting it to be much bigger, so this just tickled me.  A Roxanne sized puzzle! That isn't something you see every day.  Looking further, you will also notice that there are 7 cards with a total of 181 different puzzles inside.  That should keep me going for a long while!  Each of the burr pieces is nicely labeled so you know exactly which ones to grab out of the box to play with.

The best thing about this set though has got to be the little tiny set of tweezers!  Jack mentioned that the burr bits measure 1cm x 1 cm so unless you grow nails,  the tweezers are a must.  He's thought of everything  here.  I can't wait to start building some puzzles.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You never know what you'll find in HK shops-perpetual puzzles

I've done a couple of YouTube videos on these puzzles and my shock at finding them. But by now I shouldn't be surprised to find puzzles when I go out. What should surprise me is the type and number of puzzles I can find. I'm a twisty gal at heart, but I don't discriminate, and this posting will attest to that.

So here's two shops finds for you....

And what have we got here? Three Moku moku puzzles from Artbox in Japan, and three puzzles from Lagoon games (Uk originally)

I'll start with the Japanese Puzzles. I found these in a street stall when waiting for Uwe the other day. He is notoriously late-we always plan for 6, but he forgets the traffic that time of day, and Rox of course always remembers and gets there for the appointed dinner time only to wait as usual. So what do I do? Why take a walk around and see if I can spot anything new. These are wooden Jigsaws. Easily done right? Yes. I was hoping they would be along the difficulty lines of the bantam eggs, but sadly, they are just slide jigsaws that really aren't that well cut when I look at them. I put together the coffee cup, and the base is one of those 4 piece puzzles that need to be twisted just the right way to stay in place. Sadly, it's just not tight enough to do that, so it sits on my shelf with sticky tape on the bottom. The globe and the ice cream can wait. But on the plus side, they have a wonderful smell!

On to Lagoon games. I was waiting for Mr. B. so we could have our Saturday night Corona's in the square and dang it all if I wasn't way too early as usual, I started to wander around the area. This time I was in East TST and my meanderings led me to a shopping mall called K11. I noticed there was a Dymocks in there, and that book store usually carries puzzles so in I went.

Up the first escalator wasn't so bad, and the second was ok. By the third I was shaking and needed to find a lift to get up one more floor. I'm not afraid of heights really, but I'm afraid of wide open spaces at heights, and that looking down 4 floors from the side of the elevator was enough to have me quaking. But lucky for me, I found a little shop that was full of gizmos so in I went to get past that bit of nerves I had just encountered.

Ok, so inside they had about 4 different wooden puzzles from Lagoon games, 3 versions of the perpetual puzzles, some illusion jigsaws and a couple of animal stacking jigsaws for kids. Well, since those jigsaws packed a hefty price tag-right around US$50 and they were nothing more than animals sitting on other animals, I passed. The illusion jigsaws while interesting were nothing more than a jigsaw.

Perpetual puzzles, there were three versions available-a cat, a dog, and the parrots that I picked up. Not cheap that is for sure, but not overly expensive and the bug enjoyed the most difficult challenge of no beaks and no tails and no bodies of the same color. It kept her quiet for a couple of hours last night. (and anything that can do that is worth its weight in gold!)

Alcatraz was designed by Ronald Kint-Bruynseels. He of the IPP design competition trophy fame (seriously! he's famous!) Ok, so Alcatraz. I can't tell you anything about it other than it looks to have 7 pieces, 6 of which form a burr and the 7th is the 'prisoner' that needs to escape. I haven't had the time to play with it yet, but it looks like it will be a bit of fun when I do get that time....

Now the Caged knot I have played with. I've seen photos of this one on various webpages and have always wanted one. When I saw it in that shop I didn't think twice and added it to my bag. It's nice. The puzzle was designed by Tom Jolly. For a mass produced puzzle, it's still nice. There are a few sharp edges, and I can see the glue overflow, not all the bits are lined up properly, but it's still a nice challenge. And a challenge it is. It took me a while to solve it (about 3 minutes), and an even longer while to unsolve it. Thanks Tom for letting them do a nice cheap version of this one. Well, cheap as in US$20 more or less.

Videos of Caged knot and Alcatraz can be seen on my YouTube channel. (Including one of me breaking a puzzle!)

As I was trying to solve the puzzle, I ran into a bit of a problem. The pieces came out with no problem. Getting it back together is the real puzzle. This is usually the case isn't it. Big problem though. Earlier I mentioned that the bits weren't exactly lined up. So when I attempted to put the puzzle back together-the burr back into the cage, those tight misaligned pieces had a bit of an accident and one piece snapped. Well, now I have the puzzle of finding wood glue. Does anyone know how to say that in Chinese?????

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Michelle!

I wish I had a turkey puzzle to show you all but sadly (or maybe not) I don't. I'm sure I can find something.

Ok, so it's thanksgiving today. Well, on this side of the world anyway. The dinner has been eaten, the pie is done and I'm into my cups. So what am I thankful for this year? Besides another fantastic year with a great family and wonderful friends? Well my toys of course. Or maybe I should amend that to say my 'boys and toys'. I've had a great year with puzzle friends. Three meets in China, IPP, a few meet ups here in HK. It doesn't get any better than that. Or does it???

At this years IPP I had the pleasure of visiting with a fellow puzzler at his home. I was really honored that he invited us (and think I still owe him some money for the van much to my embarrassment) Well, while there I saw a number of puzzles I had only ever dreamed of seeing, or that I thought I would never see in real life. At the same time, I was 'introduced' to a few that I had never seen or heard of before.

When I got back to HK,I hunted and hunted until I could put a name to those puzzles, and then I hunted and hunted until I could find some. Well, I got my first in today. And there WILL be more. I have my heart set on 3 of them...

So here is my mystery puzzle. Today I got Portrait de Michele in. What a thing to be thankful for. I'm very thankful the DHL man delivers on Thanksgiving. :-) Where are those smiley faces when you need them?

So what does it look like? How does it work? Nothing to it really. It's a 17 piece burr. 18 if you count the plastic stand it all sits on. When the box came in, I was excited. I knew it was on the way and was tracking the package all day when I was stuck at a retreat for work. (I'd have much rather been at home waiting for the DHL man) I had to do an unboxing video of course. (Since when did those become a requirement?)

Well, thankfully there was an undamaged puzzle inside that box. Dirty, but undamaged.

The front doesn't look too bad, but the back! What a mess. I could see right away that it was going to be a bit of work to clean up. Who would do this to a puzzle I ask you! They should be taken out back and beaten with my bootlaces.

Well, not to worry. Rox has her handy dandy soft hotel toothbrushes. A bit of warm water and we managed to sort it out. This one was filthy. There was so much crud in there, it had to soak for over an hour to help loosen the stuff up.

Mr. Man says he thinks it was plaster of paris. Somebody must have been attempting to make a duplicate of her. Oh well, I managed to take her apart and got out those brushes and gently scrubbed away. She did take a bit of a bath while we ate dinner though.
Nothing like a bit of good old elbow grease to get the job done.

Yep, that's me scrubbing away with the toothbrushes. All 17 pieces needed a good clean up. And clean up very nicely they did. I now have one amazing puzzle in my hands. She's a beauty. Now I just need to hunt down David and Goliath to go with her. :-) While I'm looking, many more horses would look nice to...

So here she is all laid out getting ready to be put back together.

And here she is good as new. Nice puzzle for a nice price. Money well spent.