As part of our Meet The Designer series we recently caught up with Phil Wigfield who is behind MetalPuzzlesUK, a relatively new puzzle maker focusing on high quality brass pieces.
Hi Phil, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. So we only discovered your puzzles this year, is puzzle making something new for you and when did you start?
Not a problem at all Henry. I’m actually very new to the puzzle scene as such. I only actually started to make puzzles last year with my first release in November.
MetalPuzzlesUK has four designs released so far, which was the first puzzle you created and what was the motivation behind beginning to create puzzles?
Following on from the previous question as such; when the pandemic hit the UK I was a bit lost of what to do in my spare time. I was – and are still working on making a 4” steam traction engine, however; physically getting parts was becoming very laborious due to shut down etc. I had been watching Chris Ramsay videos, and from there I thought I could make some for my family to have a play with. The first puzzle was the ‘Sticky Barrel’
Given the name of the company, metal is obviously what all your designs are made from. What is it about brass or other metal that makes for a good puzzle over say wood or plastic?
I come from a family of tool makers, and as such I have known how to use a lathe and other metal working equipment since as long as I can remember. I always believe that you should play on your strengths and what you know. Brass is an amazing material to work with as it’s relatively easy to work with and you can enjoy it over many stages from ‘machined finish’ to ‘polished’ to ‘patina’ and almost back again. As such, visually they are great to see the finished article but at the same time they have a bit of weight to give you that fantastic feel. Compared to wood especially, they also hold up to many elements where you don’t need to worry about humidity etc.
Are there any challenges you’ve encountered in making puzzles?
Other than the normal struggles of Covid and Brexit having an impact with not only getting the materials in, but packaging and boxes have even been a challenge with greater lead-times across everything it seems. Getting the right quality materials has been a bit of an issue. I’ll be slightly changing some of the materials in the ‘spinning tumblers’ due to this, but after months are searching and testing I’m very happy with the results.
What would you say are the key components that make a good puzzle?
Coming from a food background, I’ve always thought with anything – it needs to be visually appealing first off. You want to be able to showcase the puzzle and grab people’s attention. Latterly, the puzzle has to have a great feel. You want to be able to feel like you can pick up a puzzle over and over again.
Do you have plans for any new designs at the moment?
I’ve promised a third ‘nut and bolt’ puzzle; and I’m keeping my word on that. Hopefully, I should be able to get a first batch of these out later this year. I’m also working on a completely different design of which isn’t a blind puzzle! There is still a bit of tweaking but I’m hopeful that this will be available in the not so distant future
Finally do you have an all time favourite puzzle not of your own design?
I’m actually a massive fan of Two Brass Monkeys – which may come as no surprise! After not much deliberation I would have to say that ‘Brass Monkey Two’ is my all time favourite as it hits all my points from what I believe a puzzle should have – plus the solution is very well executed
you can find the full range from MPUK here.