Puzzle maker visits Springville seniors who completed his 60,000-piece puzzle

Feb 5, 2024, 8:14 AM

A group of seniors at the Springville Senior Center got to meet with puzzle maker and artist Eric D...

A group of seniors at the Springville Senior Center got to meet with puzzle maker and artist Eric Dowdle after they recently completed a 60,000-piece puzzle he designed. (Springville Senior Center)

(Springville Senior Center)

SPRINGVILLE — A group of Springville seniors got to meet puzzle-maker and artist Eric Dowdle after completing a 60,000-piece puzzle he designed.

Jigsaw puzzles are always out at the Springville Senior Center, for seniors to work on periodically throughout the day. Center Director Tori Eaton is great at finding fun projects for the center and after seeing Dowdle’s 60,000-piece puzzle, she knew she had to get it, said Daryl Tucker, board of trustees member for the center.

The “What a Wonderful World” puzzle is the world’s largest commercially available puzzle at 29 feet long and 8 feet tall and features the art of 187 different paintings from the Dowdle art studio. The puzzle comes in a huge box with 60 bags of 1,000 pieces each.

Each bag of pieces, when put together, completes one section of the puzzle. Once all 60 sections were put together at the Springville Senior Center, the city brought in a dozen tables for the seniors to connect them into one massive puzzle.

“It was a big project,” Tucker said. “It was great. I actually miss working on it. It was quite challenging.”

The puzzle depicts a map of the world with monuments, landmarks and other illustrations filling in the oceans in Dowdle’s recognizable folk art style. Tucker said it was fun putting together all of the fine details and identifiable places — he remembers working on the Lincoln Memorial and other D.C. buildings.

“These beautiful and vibrant paintings showcase the wonders of our magnificent world. Explore the islands of the Pacific, twinkling lights of Paris, beauty of the Taj Mahal and the majesty of America’s national parks on your puzzling journey,” the Dowdle Folk Art website says.

More than 30 people contributed to the puzzle that was started in October and finished in January. Tucker said each section of the puzzle took a couple days to finish and sometimes multiple sections were worked on at the same time.

“Spent a lot of hours doing it and it was a pleasure,” Tucker said.

Eaton contacted Dowdle’s company hoping he could pay the seniors a visit once they completed the puzzle. At first, there was no response from Dowdle because of a mixup in trying to contact him, but once Dowdle heard about the seniors finishing the puzzle he made arrangements to visit on Jan. 18.

A group of seniors at the Springville Senior Center pose with a 60,000-piece puzzle designed by Eric Dowdle that took three months and more than 30 people to complete. (Photo: Springville Senior Center)

Tucker said Dowdle spent a lot of time with the seniors during his visit, ate lunch with them and gave them “high marks” on finishing the puzzle. He explained how challenging it was to create such a massive puzzle and said the seniors’ puzzle process was just how he envisioned it would be completed.

Dowdle has a studio in Lindon where anyone can come and work on the same 60,000-piece puzzle. He invited the Springville seniors to come help, since they have prior experience.

Eaton’s acquaintance at the Heber City senior center asked to borrow the puzzle for their seniors to complete. The puzzle was taken apart, bagged up into sections and taken to Heber City where even more people will get to face the challenge of the giant puzzle.

Tucker said activities and projects like this one are “indispensable” to the community, especially for people who have retired.

“The senior center always provides something for them to be engaged in or active in,” he said. “It’s a great organization and I would say, my biased opinion, is we’re the best senior center anywhere.”

The Springville Senior Center offers a variety of activities from book clubs to quilting, pottery, stained glass and music classes, tai chi groups, painting nights and more. The center also offers field trips around the state to exhibits downtown, sports events, concerts, plays, nature outings and more.

Dowdle has become famous for his intricate folk art-turned puzzles that he creates of cities, towns and places across the world, including several in Utah, where he showcases the uniqueness of the area.

“These puzzles are a way to show that there’s no missing pieces, everybody matters, and we really celebrate the individual,” Dowdle said in 2023. He aims to connect people and communities with his puzzles.

One of Costco’s best selling items, Dowdle’s puzzle sales exploded during the pandemic.

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Puzzle maker visits Springville seniors who completed his 60,000-piece puzzle