Bits 'n' Pieces: Puzzle fiends flip for Flipzles

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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Inspiration struck Vicki Lewis one evening when she watched her children play with a hand-crafted puzzle made by her mother-in-law.

The Woodland artist, 38, loved the thick wooden pieces and the design, but she found herself wondering if she couldn't add another dimension to the experience.

And so, her concept of Flipzles, double-sided puzzle play sets, was born.

"When I saw the puzzles were just one-sided I thought, 'You know, I'm going to make one. But I'm going to use both sides,' " Lewis said.

The puzzle sets — which come in designs based on a house, pirate ship, rescue station, castle, farm and pet mansion — on one side are typical wood jigsaw pieces that make up a setting.

When the child dumps the pieces out of the puzzle holder, the holder reveals an inside view of each setting. The castle Flipzle, for instance, reveals the interior of the castle when the pieces showing the castle exterior are removed.

But that's not all.

The jigsaw pieces, when flipped over, represent play figures that children can use in the interior scene. The castle pieces, for instance, include a dragon, a unicorn and a wizard that children can use to create stories.

"I call them story-telling play sets," Lewis said.

Lewis won an award in June for her Flipzles Farm design, which was selected as Creative Child Magazine's Puzzle of the Year.

"It's great to get that sort of recognition," she said.

Business expanding

Her four children, ages 12, 9, 7 and 3 — all play with the designs, although the general range for the toy is 10 and under, Lewis said.

She started the company with four designs in October 2012, and introduced two more designs in 2013. Lewis still hasn't made enough money to pay herself, but more and more people are buying them and she hopes she can hire an employee to ramp up production in the next year or so.

"We're in about 130 boutique stores across the country," Lewis said. "And people can buy them right here in Clark County at Kazoodles."

Her next project will be a puzzle that children can customize even further.

"I want kids to be able to personalize and paint the pieces themselves," Lewis said. "They'll still be double sided, but they'll be even more opportunity for creativity."

For more information about the puzzles, check out the company's website at www.flipzles.com.


Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.