Marion Baker didn’t know what to expect when the Read Right Society launched a puzzle project in May of 2021.
People were asked to pick up puzzle pieces at the 3rd Avenue office, take them home, paint them and bring them back. Baker, who runs the Read Right Society’s Hope and area volunteer program, didn’t know how many people would pick up puzzle pieces. She didn’t know how many people would bring them back.
It was all a big experiment, and as it turns out, a hugely successful one.
“I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. I though this could either be fantastic or really, really bad and I think it’s fantastic,” said Baker. “It kind of looks like the quilt your grandma used to make.”
The project was started as a way to keep Read Right Society volunteers engaged at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was limiting activities. The completed puzzle, which is on display now in a window at the corner of 3rd and Wallace, is a visual celebration of those volunteers.
“People were really excited about it and the whole community really embraced it and wanted to be a part of it,” Baker said. “It really brought people together and even if it took a half hour to paint a puzzle piece, it was a half hour in the middle of pandemic world that had them feeling part of something bigger than themselves.
“We had people bringing enough pieces home so their whole family could sit around a table and paint together.”
There are 224 pieces in all, fitting into a puzzle that’s four by four-and-a-half feet.
“There’s a Where’s Waldo piece, which is perfect,” Baker laughed. “You couldn’t have 224 pieces without that. On the bottom, there’s the face of a chicken staring at you. I really like that one.”
Local artist Ken Skoda, who has painted several murals around Hope, contributed three pieces.
“They are what he does beautifully. He does mountainscapes with eagles flying and orcas and those kinds of things and he’s always willing to be part of anything that contributes to Hope,” Baker said.
The puzzle’s current spot at 3rd and Wallace is a great one, “front and center” in a high-visibility spot.
“I’m quite happy about where it is right now, but that might change as we approach different places in town to put it up in their place,” Baker said. “We’re hoping it might become a roaming puzzle.”
Successful as the project was, she added that it’s probably going to be a one-and-done.
But that doesn’t mean the Read Right Society won’t do something similar in the future.
“I’d certainly do something else that people could take home and then find a way to bring together again, but I just don’t know what form that would take,” Baker said.
For more on the Read Write Society and what it does, visit readrightsociety.com/home.html or email Baker at email@example.com