More Wooden Boxes
Additional information about Making Puzzle Boxes - here!
Gatewood (pictured right) received his first
puzzle box over 30 years ago when a friend gave
him an old Japanese puzzle box (pictured below)
which he still proudly displays. Over the years,
his desire to try his hand at puzzle box
designing was ever increasing. With a couple
decades of woodworking experience and a great
fascination for puzzle boxes as an art form,
Randal finally established his
Quagmire Puzzle Boxes™
brand in 2002.
Randal Gatewood (Randal G.)
Puzzle box inventor
When Randal first conceived Quagmire
Puzzle Boxes and before the advent of this
website, he did not have any way to
market his art work. He knew that if he
was going be taken seriously, he
would need to come out with something
that had a real "wow" factor. So he got to
work on his first design. Even with all of his
years of experience as a wood worker, he learned
quickly just how complicated a task he
had set for himself. Months later he had
finally completed a prototype that he
could proudly present - to someone.
That someone turned out to be Cleverwood.com.
Excerpt from Cleverwood.com...
When Randal first contacted us (Cleverwood) on October 19, 2003 asking us to look at his puzzle box, we were skeptical. We hear from people fairly frequently who claim to be able to produce original puzzle boxes. It usually turns out that they have an idea, or a plan, but do not have the ability to actually build the box. On top of that, their idea is usually not a new idea. But Randal said he had a finished prototype of his puzzle box. We asked that he send it to us. We were shocked when it arrived. Randal’s Double Crossed Puzzle Box is magnificent - the work of a perfectionist and a talented woodworker, yes indeed.
"Most of my skills are self taught and
perfected through persistence and trial
and error. I was brought up to believe
that a job worth doing is worth doing
right. Having taken this to heart early
in my life and that being my premise in
any project I engage in, I tend to be a
perfectionist. I truly strive to do the
absolute best I can or I really don’t
want to do it. Even if I do the best I
can and don’t like the results, I will
research it and do it over until it is
right. Basically, if I’m not happy with
it, then I can’t justify that anyone else
will be happy with it. The absolute most
enjoyable thing for me is the creative
process. The process of mind to
manifestation is the ultimate challenge."
- Randal Gatewood
Though Randal has been a serious wood worker for well over 20 years, he did not get involved in the puzzle world
(publicly) until early 2003, but his
craftsmanship is certainly the reflection
of a skilled artisan. He admits that
prior to building his first puzzle box
that he hadn't any knowledge about the history of puzzle boxes or the work of other puzzle box designers and makers. This is a good thing. His designs are totally original - he has not been influenced by anyone. We asked him what encouraged him to build puzzle boxes, Randal said~
"My first puzzle box was given to me by a friend many years ago. I had never seen one before that and it really intrigued me. For
many years thereafter, I looked for more
puzzle boxes. I had seen some small "trick" boxes that folks were calling puzzle boxes, though I thought they were neat - I was really looking for more complex and challenging puzzle boxes. So I knew puzzle boxes existed, I just didn't have any historical knowledge of them. The lack of finding complex puzzle boxes only intrigued me more to want to try my skills at building them. It also helped spark my imagination for my own 'vision' of what I thought a puzzle box should be. I suppose you could say that I've been designing puzzle boxes in my imagination for quite a few years. I still have sketches of ideas that I dreamed up of well over 10 years ago. My Double Crossed box design is based on one of those ideas. Now it seems as though I can't work fast enough to prototype new designs!" - Randal Gatewood
As you can see,
his own "vision" results in designs that
are totally original! What you can see in
Randal's designs is a three dimensional
depth of detail that really makes his
puzzle boxes unique. When asked about how
he goes about the design process, Randal
“I suppose that it starts with a single image in my mind. I kind of draw it out on the 'black board' in my head and if I can manipulate the parts of that image into something that seems to work....
that's the beginning of a concept. It's
kind of a... meditation manifestation. In building the “Double Crossed” puzzle box, I found the entire creation to be a combination of artistic gesture with mechanical ingenuity. To me, a craft is a personal expression of its creator. In working with wood, I let the wood dictate many aspects of the design. The colors, grain, density, and cut orientation all play a role in the creative process. It is a matter of finding the right balance with all of the elements. I
often create better at the work bench with the wood in hand than I do with pencil and paper. This whole process is most rewarding. In summary, my hands are the tools
in which fashion the wood into the vehicle that produces the final expression of my imagination. If that expression is a true representation of my imagination, then I am most satisfied. My hope is that others will see that expression and find enjoyment in it as well.” - Randal Gatewood
expressed that his goal is simply to
totally original puzzle box designs that
have a real artistic appeal; that are
just as esthetically enjoyable as they
are enjoyable for the challenge they
present. He builds each box with the
expectation that it will last for many
years to come. It is with the
quality and care of workmanship that
these beautify artistic boxes are
considered heirlooms that can be handed
down for generations.
completing his first Quagmire Puzzle Box
"Double Crossed ",
the first batch sold in just a matter of
days, with purchases by
collectors from all around the world.....
USA, UK, Netherlands, Taiwan,
Germany, Canada, Italy, Australia and
Japan. And this was just for the first
batch of 20 boxes. Below are a few
of the customer comments that Randal has
received. Since his first puzzle box
invention, Randal has created many other
great designs that you can see on this
Some customer comments received about Randal's
first puzzle box design, the Double Crossed:
"We received Randal's
double crossed puzzle box today. Although we
have not been collecting long, we have
several boxes. This is by far the highest
quality box we have. The workmanship is
outstanding and the box is incredible. We
also appreciate the gift that you enclosed
inside the box. We would definitely like to
be on the list for any other Gatewood box
and any other box of the same quality.
Thanks for your quality service and
"The Double Crossed Box
arrived safely this morning and I am
delighted with it, thank you very much.
Please put me down for Randal's next
Creation. I hope it will have fewer moves. I
spent some time playing with the box. I
doubt it if I could have solved it without
instructions. Even then I only managed to
open it after several attempts. Thanks for
the gift! The craftsmanship is first class.
I wonder how many people will open the box
without help. Thanks again, Great."
"This box is really
great. It is beautifully made but what
amazes me most is the superb mechanism that
cannot be compared to anything I have seen
before. It truly needs a lot of "gripping
fingers" at the same time to open but when
you get the idea what is needed, it can be
done. But I will be honest; I needed the
instructions! I hope Randal will continue
developing boxes like this one! Seriously;
please tell him I really enjoy the box and
that he did a great job!"
"I am a puzzle collector in
Australia and recently purchased your Box of
ZN, Double-Crossed box & Aztec jigsaw from
Cleverwood (blew the budget a bit!). Just
wanted to let you know that all three of
these are fantastic, and already a great
source of pleasure. These items are
beautifully crafted and a great credit to
you - I am honored to have them in my
collection. Consequently I have pre-ordered
Keepers Key Safe & Ultimate Box, and look
forward to the next laser engraved jigsaw
installment (not sure how I am going to pay
for it all yet....) Anyway, be assured that
your talents are greatly appreciated across
the globe." Many thanks.
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folks, if you ask them if they know what a
puzzle box is, you will find they just
really don't have any idea! If more people
had a basic concept of what is involved in
the process of designing and building puzzle
boxes, it is certain that more people would
become enthusiast and collectors. There are
truly just a handful of craftsmen in the
world that have taken on this craft.
To read a little about the art custom
handmade puzzle boxes, please see:
The Puzzle Box Craft Page.