BY PAUL BICKLEY
“Puzzles are all about the images,” says Marc Tschida, who launched Press Puzzles in 2013. Most of his hand-cut, wooden jigsaw puzzles depict Bloomington landmarks, making them particularly attractive to tourists and Indiana University students.
Tschida especially enjoys making puzzles featuring Bloomington’s arts culture; his most popular depicts the Buskirk-Chumley Theater and its iconic neon “Indiana” sign.
Two outlets regularly sell Press Puzzles: Brown County Craft Gallery in Nashville, Indiana, and Gather :handmade shoppe & Co: in Fountain Square Mall. In May, during IU’s commencement weekend, SpringHill Suites by Marriott placed puzzles in each of its 150 rooms, and offered additional puzzles for sale in its lobby shop.
As one might expect in the puzzle business, Press Puzzles’ sales are most brisk during the holiday season. Tschida, whose full-time job is production manager at Cardinal Stage Company, is hoping to expand beyond Bloomington. After WTIU’s The Weekly Special posted an online video about him in June 2014, he received orders from across the state, including from the Indiana State Museum. For the museum, he developed a line of Indiana-themed puzzles, including his best-seller, an Indiana county map. Also of significance, the National Museum of Play, in Rochester, New York, placed one of his puzzles in its permanent collection. “Every time I turn around,” Tschida says, “something good is happening.”
To test regional and national waters, Tschida is selling a limited-edition, 350-piece, $95 puzzle depicting the painting Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley featuring 16 shark-shaped pieces. He says he hopes it will let him hone his Internet marketing, packaging, and distribution skills. “It’s the link between now and two years from now for my puzzles,” he says.
The project is also personal. Tschida, who was once “petrified by the movie Jaws,” will use sales to take a cage dive with great white sharks next year and donate 15 percent of the proceeds to shark conservation. Buyers will also receive a post-dive thank-you puzzle featuring one of Tschida’s own underwater photos of a great white shark.
For more information, visit presspuzzles.com.