Some of you regular readers may remember that back in May I wrote about a puzzle called The Ball Puzzle by the late sculptor, designer and architect Charles O. Perry, and very recently (largely through both luck and generosity) I managed to obtain another of his rare and brilliant puzzle sculptures.
This puzzle is called 'Zen', which was designed and made in 1987, and like several of Perry's other designs it is made from very high quality materials. In this case the five pieces are made from machined solid brass and the casing from Delron (Delrin) which is a form of high quality engineering plastic that is ideal for machining. The diameter of the whole puzzle is 2 and a half inches.
Despite the fact that I had seen pictures of Zen several times I had never actually seen any images of it disassembled, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect once it was apart. In fact I didn't even know how it came apart!
Now as a puzzle: Zen consists of five brass pieces which have been machined in such a way as to fit around each other in the form of a spiral. And as you can see the Delron casing has also been machined to snugly hold the pieces in their spiral configuration.
When I took it apart it turned out that three of the pieces are in fact identical. One other piece is solid with no cut grooves and a built-in sprung ball bearing, this is the final locking piece. The exact same technique was used in Perry's Ball Puzzle to hold the final piece in place.
If you pay a bit of attention to the pieces and apply a little logic then the order of insertion should become pretty obvious, and for that reason I won't class it as a difficult puzzle. It took me no time at all but it could take a non-puzzler perhaps a few minutes to work it out properly.
Even though Zen is not a very difficult puzzle it has easily become one of my favourites because of it's sheer quality and design. It is a very rare puzzle to come across, so I'm incredibly happy and privileged to actually have one in my collection.
For anyone interested in owning some of Charles O. Perry's puzzles then it may be worth checking over on Puzzle Master as it seems that they still have some stock of his Ball Puzzle in both Brass and Plexi Glass.