Shane Hales discusses puzzles!
MGT: For those that don’t know, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do Shane?
SH: I’m a carpenter & joiner by trade, I’m a fellow of the Institute of carpenters, and was awarded the Master carpenter certificate in 2007, with only around 150/200 people in the country with this qualification. I am also a qualified locksmith (but by no means a master locksmith) and have had a passion for locks since I was a child. I now run my own construction company as a director. We build homes, refurbishment, and restoration of projects. From a very young age, I knew I wanted a job or trade that I could use my hands and get hands on. I love my work and picked the perfect career for me. I’ve always enjoyed dismantling things and discovering how things work, a reason for my fascination with locks. I guess it was only a matter of time before I discovered mechanical puzzles, (not soon enough) then dreaming up ideas of my own.
MGT: Can you recall how or why you became a puzzle designer and craftsman?
SH: After getting the ‘bug’ from collecting is wasn’t long before I was wondering if I could actually create something myself. With my knowledge of locks and my understanding of mechanical things, I was very interested in the concept of trying to create something.
Once mentioned to my fellow MPP’ers it wasn’t long before I was encouraged to get going. Especially by Mr Kevin Sadler. Without him, there would be no Halespuzzles. With my own small workshop at home, I was soon busy figuring out something. Then realised how much I had missed ‘working on the tools’ so this now becomes my get away from the sometimes stress of work and running a business (ironically) and I enjoy it very much.
MG: What would you say are your main influences when conceiving a piece of work?
SH: I have to say, Robert Yarger couldn’t have put it better. I have a little MacGyver in me, I look at day to day things all the time and wonder if I could conceive something from them? Most of my puzzles contain things that I come across all the time, I just think of a way to adapt them in someway. For instance, ‘The Pentagon’ contains a child lock from kitchen cupboards. As soon as I came across it, I knew I could fit that in some puzzle somewhere to fool you.
MG: How long have you been into puzzles and what got you into designing and making puzzles, specifically puzzle locks and your sequential discovery puzzles?
I also believe inspiration from all the other designers helps! Shane Hales
It was well received by everyone and this encouragement only spurred me on. I really enjoy sequential discovery puzzles and of course, I love lock puzzles! So it made sense for me to try and build something that I enjoy solving, this gives me the incentive to try and make a good puzzle. My understanding of how locks work is an obvious choice for me to include within a puzzle.
MG: What comes first – the materials or your initial design idea?
SH: Again it’s the MacGyver in me. I see or get an idea from something and then I will sketch it up roughly in my little note book. I have plenty in my little note book that I carry around with me all the time. When it’s time to make a new design, I’ll have a look through my stock of material to see what I have. But this will not necessarily dictate what I make. If I need materials I will go out and pick up what I need, however, usually it’s a little of both. Using what I have and also buying something I need.
Read the rest of the interview in the pages of TheMetagrobologist Magazine Issue 4.