Originally published in the San Antonio Current.
Googling the words “puzzle” and “pandemic” these days returns headlines such as “People are Curbing Their Stay-at-Home Anxiety the Analog Way: With Puzzles” from CNN. Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal posted “Coronavirus Means Everyone Wants Jigsaw Puzzles. Good Luck Buying One.”
An odd example of collective consciousness in the e-tail era, the puzzle boom has resulted in unmeetable demand. Puzzle giant Ravensburger has been unable to fulfill orders and “puzzles for adults” jumped from the 1,435th most-searched item on Amazon into the top 10 alongside cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Sought-after puzzles are being resold at premiums and small businesses are stepping in to fill gaps in the market.
No. 9 — a Beacon Hill boutique specializing in floral design, gifts and chocolates — is one such example.
“We were, and still are, getting calls from people who want floral product from us, [but] we just haven’t been in the position to do it,” owner David Garcia said. “That’s how the puzzle thing came along. … I was reading about puzzles selling out — and people selling them for ridiculous prices on eBay — and I was like, ‘Wow, this is kind of shitty. And this is maybe a good way for us to jump in the game.’”
After connecting with a fabricator, Garcia ordered several designs reproducing artwork he’d commissioned. Priced at $35, his puzzles all ring in at 500 pieces, with the difficulty level of each depending largely on imagery. The puzzles are available online at no9floralandgifts.com.
Named after the Spanish word for rainbow, Arcoiris depicts a grid of color-coded skulls Garcia assembled for a Día de los Muertos ofrenda honoring the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. “We had that image in front of the altar, [and] people signed well wishes to Pulse on it,” Garcia explained. Repeated pattern aside, Arcoiris is perhaps the easiest puzzle in the bunch.
Comida Por Vida
A graphic homage to the Alamo City’s culinary inclinations, Comida Por Vida is a no-brainer for foodies in quarantine. The work of graphic designer Enzo Fiorello, the design celebrates barbacoa, Big Red, tacos and paletas in a playful melange of fonts and illustrations. Since it was commissioned as a silkscreen for baby onesies, it’s completely black and white — which makes for tricky puzzling.
Candy-colored conchas, rainbow sprinkle cookies and pig-shaped maranitos fill this pan dulce extravaganza. Photographed by Feliz Modern proprietor Ginger Diaz and originally printed on beach towels and cell phone clutches, the vibrant design is like a virtual trip to the panadería that’s simultaneously uplifting and hunger-inducing.
A testament to Garcia’s fascination with New Orleans and legendary voodoo queen Marie Laveau, this dark still-life features a painterly floral arrangement sprouting from an ominous skull vase. Ideal for Goths in self-isolation, it’s captivating to ponder — perhaps extensively as its black background makes it the most challenging puzzle in the lot.