Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ring Puzzle

When I tell others about the gift-wrapping tradition this has become, most men say their wives would throw the package back at them in frustration. Women say the same thing, with even more disdain. Apparently "the majority" of recipients want to get at the goods as quickly as possible.

The thing Pat "gets" is that the reward is in the journey, not the destination. This is a major tenet of flow theory that we've both found to be true. There's more enjoyment in the act of opening the gift than the gift itself. Especially since the gift has been scrap wood, various trinkets including sand emptied from my shoes.  But it holds true when the value of the destination increases.

Working at IMSA I pass by the Granger Inventor Studio every day.  It's a workshop filled with interesting stuff, machinery and tools. I was getting tired of using hand drills and circular saws. It was time for a paradigm shift.

Okay, last year was too hard and the prize too trivial. This year would be different. A nice opal necklace was to be the prize. The Granger Studio would provide the technology: drill press, table saw and belt sander. This was also the first year I bought special wood at Owl Lumber and created a prototype--to make sure the concept would work.  It was a design challenge, particularly assembling the final product (I had to file down the dowels to points so they would match up into the corresponding holes in the end pieces).

Instead of a strong box or sculpture to break into, I designed an airy, 3-D keepsake puzzle that required passing a copper ring over the tops of pegs, to free it from the maze. This time I made sure the thing was easy to handle. On the ring was a key. Elsewhere under the tree was a jewelry box fitted with a padlock.

Pat probably had the fastest time of anyone in the family freeing the key; it took her maybe 10 minutes. I wouldn't want it to be any shorter.