Old design - Boundary Burr

Boundary burr.jpg

I was going through some old files and found this puzzle from Feb 2014. It appears to be one that I have designed (lots of variations on the pieces in the original file) - and I do remember it was an attempt to continue the concept of a burr puzzle that looked like one thing, but was in fact another.

It is a 4 piece puzzle, but is designed to look like a 6 piece board burr. There may be some rotations, as it is not clear from the burr tools file if these are possible.

Why did I call it Boundary burr? Well it is a bit of a cricket reference. A Boundary can be 4 runs or 6 runs, depending on if the ball bounces before crossing the boundary.

As always, happy for anyone to make this for themselves, or if they make a larger batch (up to around 50) then just send me one as my ‘commission’ :)

A level 14 (8.3.3) burr, which should provide a nice challenge for the puzzler, and depending on the materials and construction, could be made to look more like a 6 piece burr than a 4 piece ;)

The burr tools file is available on the ‘My Designs’ page.

Posted on January 3, 2019 .

New photgraphy - coming soon

A friend kindly gave me a new light box as I had struggled to get good photographs with white backgrounds. The company that makes it also sells a turntable for 360 imagery with an easy to use app (do I sound like I am selling them? - I am not!).

Below you can see an early attempt which is promising. Now I need to spend a bit more time cropping and centering the images and hopefully a whole new look to the site will be done shortly. Watch this space........


Around and around I go

where will I stop?

Posted on April 10, 2018 .

An Elephant made from fish?

I recently found on the interweb an article about an artist in Korea who had designed a new version of the classic Kumiki elephant. This one could be produced from a single thickness of material, so making manufacture much easier.

See One Eyed Fish for more from the artist.


Obviously I was very interested in the puzzle and wanted to see if I could get hold of one. I wrote to the artist via their website and they very quickly responded. They did have the puzzle for sale, but only in a 'foam' version (kind of similar to the happy cubes). I decided to order one and a deal was struck. 

About 2 weeks after first finding the site I had one of the puzzles in my hand, very nicely packaged in a box, with an instruction book. 


The story is that a group of one eyed fish want to be an elephant, so they get together and make one. On the right you can see the pieces are cut out of sheet in what looks like a whale shape. Each individual piece looks like a stylized fish, so this all fits with the story in the book.


Having put together a few kumiki elephants before, I decided to simply take the pieces and put them together - however, this puzzle is slightly different, and it took a minute or two to work out how the pieces fit together.

The final puzzle is on the left - with a standard size rubik cube for scale. As the pieces are made of the foam, the friction helps keep the puzzle together, particularly the ears which are very different to a standard wooden elephant. 

The artist has mentioned that they may be making the puzzle in other materials later, and I am keen to see how they get on. I would particularly like the small plastic ones, or even a much larger wooden one. 

Once made I decided to introduce her (she is pink!) to the rest of the herd :)

Posted on February 9, 2018 .

An exercise in Python

Do you like optical illusions, or images where one things appears to be another? 

Well I have always liked them, simple images that look like a rabbit or a duck depending which way you look at it. Always fascinated me how the brain can be tricked into seeing things that are not there, or seeing things that appear to be something else. 

Two santas looking at each other, or a single santa?

Two santas looking at each other, or a single santa?

There is an annual competition for the best optical illusion of the year - see OPTICAL ILLUSION OF THE YEAR and there are some amazing things there.

I have played around with some previously based on other illusions, like the santa image on the right. This is based on the candlestick illusion, and someone had done a version with a single face behind it that gave the ambiguous effect. This was my attempt at a version. 

Above you can see a small carving of what looks like a harp from one direction and a treble cleff from another. This was originally cut from a block, with the shape running all the way through. It was fairly simple to then remove as much of the wood as I dared to give the object above.

Other illusions that have always interested me are those using text, whether it be wordles where a shape is filled with words in different fonts and sizes or Ambigrams where the word is different from different viewpoints,.. There are a number of websites that you can use to generate these and looking on sites like etsy you can find artists who will make them for you. 

However, I had not seen one particular type of illusion being generated. This is a section of text with an image 'hidden' in it. Either by using different colours, bold, italic or some other effect. So I decided to have a go at creating my own using Python. As it turns out it was very simple to do. There are a number of libraries for processing images (CV2) and then using the array functions in numpy it proved a simple programming task to achieve t.he desired effect.

So here is how I did it;

1. Import the image using the cv2 library which creates an array of pixels.

2. create a similar array using text repeating to fill an array the same size as the image

3. apply an effect based on the pixels to the text, either the colour, or if monochrome, make the letter bold in each 'texel' (I just made that up - apologies!). I did this using html as it is easy to apply different effects using css or simply adding the format.

However, I did find that the ratio of pixel to 'texel' was a bit off, and had to stretch the text by 50% horizontally. Below you can see the original image and the text result. The image is best reduced to a small number of pixels, otherwise the text is too big to display easily. 100 pixels will fit onto an A4 sheet when the text is size 4 font.

Python makes this very simple to do, however, the CV2 library does give colours in BGR format, which is RGB reversed for some reason. The first time the program ran, the colours were very odd, a bit Andy Warhol-ish. Something to explore later I think.

suggestions for other effects welcome - I am working on making the program a bit more interactive, rather than editing the script every time.

Posted on September 30, 2017 .

A travel chest Kumiki puzzle

This puzzle came to me from ebay via a friend in the US. The seller took it apart to ship, but unfortunately they forgot to put one piece in. Then one of the pieces got mixed up with the packaging. So I thought that I was going to get 12 pieces instead of the 14 it should be. Thankfully the seller shipped the missing part and the last piece was discovered, making me a happy chap again.

It is one of the kumiki puzzles that can be used as a money box, the slot can just be seen under the roof of the box. 

Looking up on the internet I think this is called a "Norimono" in Japan - does anyone know for sure? I can see the characters for Kumiki on the label, but the rest is lost on me. 

Posted on January 15, 2017 .

3 Piece burr cube

This design came about because I was trying to make something that looked like a Kumiki cube, but that had a 3 piece burr in the middle. I took the Castel, designed by Yavuz Demirhan, and used that as the base for the puzzle. I removed 2 cubies from his design to allow the pieces to work. This was the final puzzle after playing around with a number of others, and this was a significant increase in the number of moves to solve. Interestingly the 3 piece burr is still a single solution. 

I am particularly pleased that the 4 double cube pieces are identical. 

Eric Fuller made a similar looking puzzle designed by William Hu Called Band Cube, and I am sure there are other similar designs. 


Posted on November 21, 2015 .

Kumiki - when is it different?

So when is a kumiki puzzle different - that is a question I have been pondering recently. I was first made aware of potential differences in identical looking puzzles by Martin Watson. He showed that the barrel can have the first move (which is usually 2 pieces) either horizontally, vertically, or from the top. This is basically a rotation of the first move.

So I started looking to see if any of the puzzles that looked the same were in fact different in construction. 


Apart from the the first move being along a different axis there are a number of differences that can be found in Kumiki puzzles. 

Firstly there is a completely different key piece or pieces

So these two pagoda puzzles look very similar, there are some cosmetic differences to the top of the tower, and slight differences in the shaping of the roof pieces. However, they have very different first moves.


The one on the left a solid key piece that simply slides out.







Whilst the one on the right has a twist key which releases the rest of the puzzle

So obviously both puzzles need to be in the collection.

This kind of difference can be seen on very common puzzles too, for instance the cube puzzle is one of the basic puzzles, and the standard has 2 pieces that slide out together. However, there is a version that only has a single key piece. 

The same with the planet / Jupiter / Flying saucer puzzle. 


The interesting thing is when there are very different moves, and a great example of this is the Trolley. Sometimes labeled as San Francisco, or even "Desire". There are 3 different first moves that I am aware of, a solid key piece that slides out of the middle of the trolley - a bit like the common pig puzzle, 2 pieces that slide out on the underside of the puzzle, and a single piece that slides out of the top.

See on the image below for the each example.

So you can see that next time you see a puzzle and think " I have one of those ", you may want to look a little more carefully.


Posted on September 7, 2015 .

Kumiki Fruit

Added more photographs of my collection, this time a healthy option with fruit puzzles. Includes a nice set of 4 puzzles in the box, which are painted and have additional paper/wire leaves.

Mostly they have 2 key pieces that are removed together and are similar to the standard cube/sphere puzzles. 

Posted on August 27, 2015 .

Photography of collection

Started photographing my Kumiki collection. This is going to take a while!!!

I recently purchased a collection of figural puzzles, with mostly wooden interlocking puzzles, but it does include examples of plastic puzzles too. I have been sorting my collection into related groups, e.g. space, guns, fruit, animals, buildings etc. Once I have gone through the collection I will have a number of duplicate puzzles, some of which are common, but a number of them are less so.

Once I have photographed all the puzzles, I then plan to scan the solution sheets in and link them to to relevant puzzle. This is a bit of a challenge, as most of the solutions are not stored with the puzzles - and although some puzzles look the same, they have different structures, so I need to scan the solution, find each puzzle that looks like it might be the same and then test the solution on it. My how those winter nights are going to fly by !

Anyway, hope you enjoy browsing the galleries I am uploading, they will increase as I complete each section. Let me know what you think, and any suggestions are welcome.

Posted on August 20, 2015 .

My first Kumiki design - Panda

I have wanted to design a Kumiki for a while, but just needed some inspiration. I decided that designing one for the IPP puzzle exchange would be a good incentive, and also as a present for my stepson. As he likes Pandas it was an easy choice of what shape to make. I do have a panda in my collection, but it has a basic square body, and just the head indicates what it is.

I also added the constraint that it should be black and white, but that the pieces should not be coloured, but use the natural material colours to decorate it. The first design needed a little tweeking, and with the help of Steve Nichols, one was 3d printed. Some light sanding of the pieces (need to adjust the tollerances of the data file) and the puzzle went together. 

I am really pleased with the way it has worked out, and although it is a simple puzzle is does look good. 

Next I want to add a bit more complexity to the puzzle, so that it is more challenging. Watch this space......

Posted on July 14, 2015 .

Kumiki Bear

This was part of a box of puzzles I bought recently. There were 3 fairly rare puzzles in the box, including an Origami Crane Kumiki puzzle. This one is slightly damaged and appears to have been glued at some stage. Always makes it more difficult to take part.


Posted on May 19, 2015 .

Journet Elusive picture puzzle

Illusive Picture

Managed to find another of the Illusive picture range - still trying to find out how many there are. Spent half an hour solving the puzzle, they do become more difficult when the cardboard backing warps slightly. 

Posted on May 13, 2015 .


design for kimiki puzzle finished. Seems ok but can't post pictures yet, it is a surprise for someone 😊 

Posted on May 6, 2015 .

New design

I decided to have a go at designing a new kimiki puzzle and it seems to have worked out ok. Having it 3D printed to start but hope to have it made in wood soon. Playing with ideas for different woods to match in with designs, so black and white woods for a penguin, maybe some lacewood for a fish, and of course zebrano. Will post some pics when I have a puzzle finisbed

Posted on April 14, 2015 .

Happy Easter

The Kumiki easter parade is in full swing :) 

The two painted figures are from Shackman and were sold as Easter gifts.

Posted on April 2, 2015 .

Journet puzzles

It has been a while since I bought any new Journet puzzles, but I recently managed to get 3 all in one week. These are the square ones they made as a separate range to their normal ones, and I believe they were sold by Woolworths. 

Eclipse, Tree of Success and Green eyed Kitty

Posted on March 26, 2015 .

More from Izumia

I found some kumiki puzzles for sale on Amazon, except this was Amazon.JP - so my usual id didn't work. Having setup a new ID and bought the puzzles, I half expected the transaction to fail due to shipping address - but no, it all worked! A very happy puzzler. Below is the puzzle that caught my attention, although I did buy a couple of others :)

Posted on March 18, 2015 .