Interviews

Stephane Chomine discusses Making Puzzles

Story Highlights

  • The number of burrtools files: around 2500 files, 800 of which were fully made by himself.
  • SITORO was the first of the 497 puzzles
  • Maurice was the first puzzle crafter and enthusiast I ever met.
TheMetagrobologist consistently presents exclusive interviews articles and features every month. TheMetagrobologist is excited to present an interview with Stephane Chomine by Jean-Baptiste Jacquin, a French puzzle collector, and blogger from the suburbs of Lyon, in the south-east of France. He organises a puzzle meeting every spring in Lyon, France, bringing together those that have a love of Metagrobology and documents the events and his interests on his puzzle blog: Rencontre Casse-tête Lyon. In 2010, Jean-Baptiste founded the Arteludes online shop, a fantastic destination for those interested in beautiful, unique hand-crafted mechanical puzzles with the craftsman Maurice Vigouroux. Arteludes produces a wide range of mechanical puzzles hand-crafted from exotic hardwoods.

We are a huge fan of Stéphane CHOMINE and are delighted to be able to share an interview with him.

Biography!

Stéphane CHOMINE is a married man who lives in Chambéry with his wife and son, and also has a wooden chalet in the Alps where he still has repairings ongoing, which explains why he spends less time creating new wooden puzzles than before.

His interest in puzzles started when he retired from his job, in which he was a TV installer and engineer, and thus got plenty of time to get interested in making puzzles. He also gives a lot of time to his friends, his activities and his travels.

JBJ > By the way, it was extremely hard to find time to take photos or make an interview with this incredible puzzle designer, and required months of preparation 😉

Puzzling Facts!

The number of wooden puzzles made: 1600 puzzles created. 80% by Stéphane himself, and a few hundred still in his workshop.
The number of burrtools files: around 2500 files, 800 of which were fully made by himself. The others are variations of those files.
The number of wooden puzzles posted on the Internet: 497 puzzles posted on http://www.puzzlewillbeplayed.com/index.html.en.
Facebook: 400 friends only talking about puzzles.
Publishers: Arteludes, Eric Fuller, Pelican, etc.

The Interview!

MB: While you were working in the electronics, you got interested into puzzles lately. What triggered this change?

SC: It is quite complicated. When I retired, I went to my uncle’s place, and he challenged me with solving his 6 pieces burr. I spent two hours to take apart and then back up the puzzle, which made me willing to challenge him too with a new puzzle.

Maurice was the first puzzle crafter and enthusiast I ever met. Stephane Chomine

This is when my passion for puzzles started.

I spent the first year, in 2006, to search in shops about what was already on the market, and I quickly noticed that to get far in this business one has to conceive, even create them on one’s own. So I made myself a little workshop and started creating new puzzles.

JBJ > In 2006 in France, one could find the latest puzzles from ARJEU and DALOZ, as well as cheap Indonesian puzzles. The offer was further low as Chambéry is not a big city, and one could only find around 15 puzzles in toy shops if one was lucky.

MB: You are or was the best puzzle contributor on Ishino’s website: http://www.puzzlewillbeplayed.com/index.html.en. What can you tell us about it?

SC: I found this site thanks to Guy BRETTE. The first one I posted at Ishino’s in 2010 is SITORO (the name being a pun in French because the puzzle seems to show the heads of six bulls, ‘six taureaux’ standing for “six bulls”). At the time I was corresponding with David ROUSSEAU who explained to me how to post puzzles on the site.

Thus I was the third French to contribute, and SITORO was the first of the 497 puzzles!
Until last year, I was posting all the puzzles I found the most interesting.

JBJ > Guy BRETTE and his son run since many years the blog http://www.cassetete.org
MB: You are a good friend of Maurice VIGOUROUX, Guillaume LARGOUNEZ and Jean-Baptiste JACQUIN. Can you tell us more about the first time you met them?

SC: Maurice was the first puzzle crafter and enthusiast I ever met. I met him at the 2007 Game Fair of Ugine (Isère, France), where he got a stand. I brought to him many puzzles while he offered me some too, and thus we befriended. We meet each and every year since then and stay in touch.

JBJ > That fair that the last one Maurice went to.

SC: Around 2009-2010, Guillaume LARGOUNEZ sent me a letter because he wanted to create high-level burrs, in this case, the TIROS.

I sent him to Maurice who was more skilled in crafting such a puzzle. Then I met Guillaume and Jean-Baptiste when they came to meet Maurice and the result of his work. Since then we meet all together every year at the Puzzle Party of Lyon, even though I meet Jean-Baptiste more often than the others as we live in the same city.

Stephane Chomine interview

Read the rest of the interview in the pages of TheMetagrobologist Magazine Issue 4.

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