Saturday 11 August 2012

…more Coolen Creations

1st prototypes
With any luck, when this post is published, I’ll be enjoying the delights of the 32nd International Puzzle Party. Somehow I managed to blag myself an invite in spite of a pathetically small hoard of puzzles and only really having been a slightly serious hoarder for the past three years or so. (Yip, I still can’t bring myself to refer to what I do as collecting or to myself as a collector.)
The IPP is an amazing opportunity to meet puzzlers from around the world, chat to world-renowned collectors, designers and craftsmen about the things they love and share stories about puzzles and puzzling … and I’m sure I’ll be boring you senseless with stories from IPP for a while to come, but in the mean time, here’s the story behind my IPP gift…
...all the prototypes
As a newbie at IPP I thought that it might improve my chances of being liked and accepted (and more importantly, being invited back!) if I took along some little puzzling gift-type-things – you know, bribes! However, as I’m not a designer or a craftsman of any note (any note!), I  was always going to rely on getting something made by someone with far more talent than I have. And given that the target audience here are the world’s greatest collectors, designers and crafters of puzzles, you can’t exactly pick something up off the shelf and make a good impression – so I set about trying to come up with something unusual. 
Final candidates
My first attempt was getting some jigsaw coins cut with some suitable letters cut out of them (IPP 32) – but unfortunately my emails went unanswered so that one didn’t progress any further than an initial enquiry.
My next attempt was foiled when the gent I was hoping could produce something unique for me ended up getting horribly over-stretched at work and totally unable to take on anything extra.
With a couple of weeks to go before IPP, my puzzling mate Louis goes off on holiday with his family and a couple of decks of cards, as you do. Louis had read my blog post on impossible card-folding and decided to have a bit of a bash himself while he was on holiday. Before long he was sending pictures of his work to a couple of us in emails and he’d produced some pretty impressive stuff, so I asked him if he might be interested in producing something for me to dish out at IPP.
He dived in enthusiastically and over the course of the next few evenings produced a couple of alternative designs that he’d email over and we’d discuss, and then a day or two later, some improved designs would arrive until about a week later – and having destroyed at least an entire suit, we’d more or less decided on the features to include and Louis went into fine-tuning mode.
He went out and bought a bunch of different types of playing cards so that he could experiment with designs on the different types of cards and it soon became apparent that not all decks of cards are created equal – and the one I’d thought most suitable turned out to be an absolute pig to work with, so it was dispatched to the junk pile.
We eventually settled on a standard blue-backed Bicycle poker deck and Louis sprang into action setting up a manufacturing process that roped in Mieke with Laura keen to help out as well …
In an attempt to work out how long the postage from Eindhoven to Barnt Green would take, Louis sent over a test package of the design candidates and there was a little bit of nervousness while we waited for the envelope to wander across the channel – and I have to admit that from time to time I had visions of them not getting here in time for me to take them along… but in the end, they got here in just less than a week, which meant that the real ones should all get here in time … even still, we split them into three separate shipments to reduce the risk of them all not making it. case you were wondering...
I did the easy bit once Louis (and Mieke!) had produced all the cards, and printed little frames to mount them on and bagged them all up ready to take along to IPP… cunningly adding a QR code inside the frame that points at this blog post – just in case anyone hasn’t read my blog yet!
I think that Louis has done a pretty awesome job on these – I think the design is clever and really shows off a couple of interesting little “features” to get the brain working a little – it’s one of those things you can glance at and totally miss some of the subtleties- so I’ve tried to highlight a couple of them in the close-up pics …
I reckon they are going to go down rather well at IPP …Thanks Louis! Awesome job, mate!
The business end.


  1. Very nice work from Louis and nicely packaged Allard. I hope you enjoy the event, I am sure these items will be well received!

  2. Being the proud owner of one of these, I can say they are truly stunning, and a very proud part of my collection now! Great job Louis, and thanks Allard!

  3. A casual observer might think the 32 is just a cutout (negative space) in the nearest surface. For full appreciation, you ought to have a closeup of the reverse side to show how the 32 was formed.

    As a reverse-engineer and practicing forensic-analyst, I just instinctively start piecing together details. Trivial details, sometimes. For instance I'd guess your frame was printed using Epson UltraChrome pigment-type inks, probably K3. The ink imparts luster that can't be achieved with ordinary water-based (dye) ink and I ruled out UltraChrome 2 because the quiet zones in the QR code haven't been optimized.

    1. Great Scott!
      ...good point, but showing the back sort of gives one of the little tricks away ... And there's a good pic of the back on Rob Stegmann's site for anyone who's interested... ;)

      Phenomenal forensic skills there Scott! Done on my trusty Epson R2400 using their inks... (Seriously, you couldn't tell that from a single sample?)