“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” - William Shakespeare

Stickman No. 20 Puzzlebox (Lighthouse) by Robert Yarger

Continuing the theme I started last week with Makishi’s painted challenge box brings us to the next destination on our mini lighthouse tour.This time we are heading to New England, where a beautiful purple striped lighthouse with a ringed catwalk and domed cupola sits on a rocky outcrop.The West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec, Maine served as the real world inspiration for the Stickman No. 20 Puzzlebox, a detailed reproduction rendered in purpleheart, maple, walnut and padauk woods and imbued with Robert Yarger’s own flair and imagination.The puzzle sculpture has a few separate components which blend into the final stunning display.Tricky moves are extremely well hidden in the details of the puzzle, including the intricately hand carved rocks at the base and the decorative “bricks” on the side of the lighthouse.The first challenge of the puzzle is to release the tower, and the second is to open the two secret chambers it hides.The prominent screw thread visible in the cupola (the metaphorical “light” of this puzzle) reveals this to be an homage to Professor Louis Hoffman, famous for his intricate screw thread puzzles such as the classic Barrel and Ball from his 1893 opus Puzzles Old and New.

Intricate details and inlays from top to bottom

Never in danger of getting bored doing the same old thing, Robert has always pushed himself into new territory with his work, despite perhaps never having done it before.With the Lighthouse puzzle, he learned the techniques for threading the puzzle from Stephen Chin. Rob relates, “I gutted other shop machines and temporarily modified my lathe with pulleys and helical screws into a simplified rose engine to cut the threads as routers were pulled along on a sled.”This being the first time he had ever done such a thing, he ended up cutting the threads backwards on a number of the intended puzzles.These were relegated to an old crate along with raw cut parts and sat waiting patiently over the years.There are Lighthouse Preservation Societies whose mission it is to restore historic lighthouses and even move them inland before they collapse into the sea.That is also the story of this lighthouse, which was restored to its intended glory by Robert’s apprentice Rick Jenkins, nicknamed “The Lighthouse Keeper”, who patiently assembled those original pieces back together to complete the edition.Thanks Rick – I’ll keep the light on for you.

The Lumiere by Jen Marshall

In addition to lighthouses, I’ve also always had a fascination for automata.A particularly magical book which features a remarkable automaton is The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.The book’s inspiration is the true life story of the French film pioneer Georges Melies, told through the eyes of an orphan boy who secretly lives in the Montparnasse railway station in Paris.The book weaves hundreds of beautiful pen and ink drawings with words to illuminate the story.Jen Marshall, an innovative bartender and brand ambassador in New York, took inspiration from the Oscar nominated movie version of the book, Hugo, when she created her “Lumière” for Nighthawk Cinema.She channeled 1930’s Paris with French elderflower liqueur and herbal green Chartreuse in this lovely Last Word variation.It certainly shines in the glass and is a fitting historical tribute to the Lighthouse puzzle, a beacon of artistic achievement and mechanical marvel.Cheers!

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

It's the last word in illuminated cocktails

The Lumière by Jen Marshall

1 ½ oz gin
1 oz elderflower liqueur
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz green Chartreuse
Dash of orange bitters

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with a lime twist, or lighthouse.

Shedding some light on this pair

For more about Robert Yarger:

For prior Last Word variations:

West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec, Maine

Lathe set up for the Lighthouse puzzle, photo courtesy of Robert Yarger

Screw thread grooves for the main body