Elms Puzzles was founded by Betsy Stuart. Her uncle introduced her to puzzle cutting when she was a child, and that ignited a lifelong fascination with hand-cut wooden jigsaw puzzles. After years of cutting her own puzzles and slowly building up a business, she formally founded the company in 1987 and was soon hiring and training others to help her. The name Elms comes from her initials, Elizabeth Lee McShane Stuart or E.L.M.S.
Betsy ran the company from the home she designed in Maine for 20 years until she passed away in 2007. Her husband Fred, along with artisans Lisa, Rose, Debby, Chris, and Kristin, continued the business in her honor. Fred has since retired, but we continue Betsy's vision for beautifully handcrafted wooden jigsaw puzzles and her dedication to producing the finest puzzling experience in the world.
In 1997, Betsy was featured in a segment of Made in Maine, which you can watch below. It's a real favorite of ours.
What's the difference?
Are hand-cut puzzles really better than ones produced by lasers? Yes they are. By a country mile. It all comes down to the fit, the feel, and the experience of assembling a one-of-a-kind puzzle. Lasers burn through the wood to make a cut, which causes the pieces to have a looser, less-satisfactory fit. Laser puzzles also use thinner wood that has a more plastic, less organic feel. When lasers mass-produce puzzles, producers often re-use identical puzzle piece patterns on multiple images. Basically, laser puzzles are made by computers and you can tell. Our puzzles are made by hand and they feel like it.
We are a small crew of artisans with a shared love for the centuries-old art of wooden puzzle crafting. It brings us immense joy to share our craft with you and your loved ones.
Like so many of us since the pandemic, we now work from home. For decades, however, we either worked out of Betsy & Fred's home or our little studio in the beautiful Lakes Region of Western Maine.
Would you like to learn more about your Elms puzzle?
If you have one of our puzzles and would like to learn more about it, let us know! Our team loves to research older puzzles and share what we find.