~ History of Puzzle Boxes ~
Puzzle boxes go by many other names such as secret boxes, trick opening boxes
and even locking trick boxes just to name a few. It is estimated that the first
of these "personal boxes" came about in Japan most likely before the 1800's. Established in the Hakone-Odawara region of Japan, this area is known for its abundant variety of trees producing a wide variety of natural wood colors. These colorful woods are used to create the distinctive and often elaborate pattern overlays known as
Yosegi or Zougan
for which they are so
readily recognized for. Japan
has exported secret puzzle boxes to the West since around the 1870's. These wooden boxes are
often complex and may require many "moves" to open them. So the puzzle is
box itself and the challenge of course is to figure out the puzzle to get into the secret compartment inside.
The technique was past down for many generations from master craftsman to
apprentice. In 1984
the unique craft of Traditional Japanese puzzle boxes was designated a National Traditional
Handicraft by the International Trade & Industry Minister of Japan. From these
very talented craftsman evolved an idea and art that fascinates everyone that
see them for the first time. Currently, there are still many master craftsman and
apprentices producing them and keeping the art style alive. They are available in
many sizes, difficulty configurations and artistic patterns. And what is great
about of these puzzle boxes is that, unlike any other type of puzzles, you can
actually put something inside them for keeping your secret things from unwitting
subjects. It was these unique puzzle boxes that motivated artist Randal Gatewood
to design and build his own puzzle-istic art sold here on Quagmire Puzzle
~ QPB's Unique Handcrafted Wooden Puzzle Boxes ~
Handcrafted wooden boxes by Quagmire Puzzle Boxes™ are much more than just
another puzzle box.
These unique boxes are completely original designs created by artist, inventor and master craftsman Randal Gatewood.
His mechanical puzzle boxes have names like: The Double Crossed,
The Keepers Key Safe, Box of ZN , (Box of Zen) and the Ultimate Personal Box (UPB Box).
Each of these handcrafted puzzle boxes is really a mechanical wooden puzzle -
disguised within the boxes design, i.e., the puzzle is built into the box. So
obviously the challenge is to open the puzzle box. These are really very tricky boxes
and a lot of fun... well, fun if you like a good challenge! Many of these complex designs are made
the "old school" way using basic woodworking tools and often require hand built tools and
jigs to be made. Creating these unique designs involves many hours of contemplation,
imagination, sketching, fabricating and prototyping. The 3 dimensional aspects of Randal's puzzle boxes add real depth
details making each of these
unique designs an inspired work of art combined with mechanical
woodworking ingenuity. Randal says that process of creating his designs is a
very artistic expression – what he likes to call working art, because they are
something that you can really interact with as well as display for their esthetic value. And because these tricky boxes were designed to be used as well as looked at,
they really can make a great stash box to place everything from jewelry, secret
documents or any other favorite keepsakes. The Original Limited Edition
designs have been purchased by collectors and enthusiasts around the world. If
you're looking for really unique handcrafted hardwood puzzle boxes, one of
our designs may be just what you'r looking for! Click here to read more about Randal G.
All of Randal’s designs are engraved with his signature logo to distinguish his work. His limited editions also include a serial number engraved on each piece and come with a certificate of authenticity, care instructions, and of course the secret
operating solution. As a courtesy to our clients that purchase Randal's work, we only makes the solutions available to the original purchaser and all of the documentation is copyrighted.
Some of his designs have actually sold out before he got them completed. Because
only a few designs come out each year, knowing when a puzzle box is going to be
released before it is made public is possible by signing up for our QPB
newsletter. No worries, we will only send out a newsletter when there
is a new release. No spam and your information is kept completely private.
~ Bringing secret boxes into the 21st century with laser technology! ~
Randal G. has a whole new line of unique secret boxes in work.
A few of these completed original designs are now available such as the
The Uncle Herbart secret box and the
The Box Joint Box secret puzzle box. These designs provide a great challenge
along with being esthetically attractive. Implementing the use of a
powerful Co2 laser makes it possible to create small intricate parts much
quicker than cutting by hand. The laser also allows adding artistic concepts to
these designs such as with our Uncle Herbart secret box. Of course the laser
does have it's limitations and the majority of the work is still handcrafted
workmanship. The laser simply makes it possible to create some small pieces that would
otherwise be extremely time consuming to do by hand. The result is still a high
quality unique wooden puzzle box at a much more affordable price... and that's always
good. So keep checking back, more new designs are always in work!
"A good puzzle
box should provide the task of logical reasoning, manipulation, dexterity and even a little luck at times.
It is my goal to intrigue the puzzler with as much challenge as the design will possibly allow.
- The 'challenge' is the motivator that drives one to succeed. Without challenge; one lacks motivation."
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Quagmire Puzzle Boxes are original trademark designs created by artisan Randal Gatewood. All rights reserved.
All material on this website is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without the written consent of QPB and or the original artist.
~ Unique Boxes, Handcrafted Boxes, Wooden Boxes and Puzzle Boxes ~