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Several years back I was doing a lot of art fairs and sidewalk shows. I had plenty of paintings, but they were not priced with browsers in mind. I needed smaller, more affordable items. I had a friend who was selling books of his art work and items with his designs on them. I liked that idea, but I wanted to cut out the middleman.

I went shopping around for items to paint my designs on. I stumbled across these cheap 100 piece jigsaw puzzles at the dollar store. I bought a few and brought them home to experiment with. I found that spray paint sticks very well to the card stock of the puzzles and stencils worked very well. These puzzles make awesome party invites, holiday cards or keepsakes. Here I'll tell you how to turn a cheesy dollar store puzzle into a personalized work of art.

Step 1: Assemble the Puzzle

Before you can paint the puzzle you need to put it together. Find the edges first, match up colors and patterns and consult the picture often. Simple. The most important thing is to not lose any pieces. Assemble your puzzle on a board or stiff cardboard so it will be portable while you are painting it.

Step 2: Paint the Puzzle

When using spray paint, the most important thing is to spray light coats and to be patient. Don't spray so much paint that it pools in the cracks- that will just glue the puzzle together. As the spray paint dries, it shrinks slightly. If the coats are light, it will actually pull the paint away from the cracks allowing the puzzle to be disassembled easily. Make sure to let each layer dry well before adding more paint to prevent stencils from sticking to your work and ruining it.

For this puzzle I'll be using some stencils I created with the Silhouette paper cutter. I started with a few light coats of Krylon ballet slipper pink. I added some Rustoleum tomato and some black splatter. I added the first stencil of the three-headed dog in black. I added the second stencil of the Eureka!Factory text. I sprayed one layer in spa blue. I let it dry then shifted the stencil and shot another coat in deep blue. This creates an offset 3D effect.

After adding the Eureka!Factory stencil I decided that the first stencil looked a little weak. I created another layer for that stencil by spraying it onto another sheet. When it dried I cut out the entire outline of the image. I aligned this new stencil with the existing three-headed dog and sprayed it with lilac and grape. When it dried I sprayed the original three-headed dog outline completing the image.

Step 3: Packaging the Puzzle

Packaging the puzzle depends on what you want to do with it. A nice box and a glossy printed label showing the finished design is great for a gift. Slide all the pieces into a manilla envelope, stamp it 'Top Secret' and send it without a picture of the finished image for party invites, baby announcements or other fun surprises. Be creative and have fun with it- the sky is the limit.

! Wow, another clever project! <br>How do you see yourself, an inventor or an artist?
<p>Yes! Both! </p><p>Actually, I'm just a guy who never forgot how to learn play. Where most folks have a big screen TV and a comfy chair in their living room, mine has a workbench. I spend all my time playing around with materials and 'junk'. My garage looks a bit like an episode of 'Hoarders', however my projects rarely require a trip to buy supplies- I have tons of stuff on hand to build whatever my imagination comes up with. I also have a lot of tools so I can work in metal, plastic, wood, fine art, electronics and whatever else I want to do. </p><p>My motto is 'A collection is curated and utilized, a hoard is simply collected'.</p>
<p>Looks great, Chuck. Nice gift idea, especially with the Eureka Factory stamp on it, for that extra special touch.</p>

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Bio: I build cool things from trash and recycled materials. I like noise and sound circuits. I live with my wife, a chihuahua named Monkey and ... More »
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