Monday, May 14, 2012

Puzzle Redo

Kids love puzzles, and over time that love really starts to show. Gone are the days when wood puzzles were they all seem to be covered in paper, which quickly starts to bubble and peel. A worn out puzzle is easy to fix though, and with a little work and some pretty paper, you can turn a thrift store or hand-me-down puzzle into a family heirloom! 

You'll need:

an old puzzle
pretty paper (I reused my old refrigerator calendar that I bought from Gallardoworks on Etsy)
Mod Podge (or similar glue)
glitter paint (I used Martha Stewart Glitter Paint in Golden Beryl)
paint for base coat (in a similar color)

1. Peel the paper off of the board and each puzzle piece. It's okay to leave some of the paper backing on the pieces (or anything you plan to recover with paper), but it will bubble if you paint over it. If the backing doesn't completely peel off, spray it with a little water and then scrape it off. 

2. If you're using solid colored or patterned paper, skip to step 3. If you're using a piece of art (like this old calendar), you'll want to lay the pieces on the back of your paper and hold it up to a window to determine where to cut. (I wanted to make sure I got as much flower as possible on each puzzle piece.)

3. Keep puzzle piece in place as you lay the paper on a table, and trace its shape onto the back of the paper. (You want to trace these backwards on the paper, so make sure the back of your puzzle piece is facing up!)

4. Cut shapes from paper and stick to puzzle pieces with Mod Podge.

5. Allow to dry, then use a nail file or small strip of sandpaper to sand down the edges of the paper. All the edges of your puzzle pieces should be smooth - don't want any paper cuts!

6. Apply a layer of Mod Podge over the paper on each piece to increase durability and help prevent the paper from dissolving if a little one chews on them. (Mine are completely coated on front and back and around the edges! I used the same sealing technique with the baby blocks I made for Abe. They're still in good shape despite being chewed on, so I'm hoping the puzzle pieces will survive a little baby slobber as well.)

7. To refinish the board, completely remove the paper following the instructions in step 1, then use sandpaper to rough up the wood a bit so the paint will stick better. (Test your paint on a small corner first. If the paint doesn't adhere to the wood you'll need to give it a coat of primer first.)

8. Paint board with a base coat in a color that is similar to the glitter paint you'll be using. (I skipped this step and had to apply 5-6 coats of glitter paint just to get decent coverage. The photo above was taken after 3 coats!)

9. After the base coat is dry, apply 1-2 layers of glitter paint. 

10. Cut pieces from leftover paper to fit puzzle cut outs (use the puzzle pieces as a template). 

11. Stick pieces to the board with Mod Podge and apply another layer of Mod Podge on top to seal them. 

12. Let all the pieces dry for at least 24 hours before putting the finished puzzle pieces on the board.

Oh, and if you really want to turn it into a family heirloom, add an inscription on the back. I used a black sharpie and wrote "To Abe, who can count 'One. Two. Free. Four. Tix. Teben. Eight. Forteen. Forteen. Fort-EEN!'" and added the date. 

If I could follow him around with a video camera all day I would. Since I can't I'll just have to write down the cute things he says...and the way he says them. 

Yep, in case you hadn't guessed, I think the toddler years are the best! 


  1. Now that is creative! What a beautiful puzzle.

  2. Beautiful, much-much better than the original! And I love the inscription you added!

  3. Thanks! It was a fun project. :-)

  4. What a great reuse project! Turned out great!

  5. Love this! I adore wood toys and puzzles for my little one but they do tend to get worn. I love how your puzzle redo not only saved something worn out, but made it so much better than the original!