Apr 4, 2022 - News

Calvin Smyre, the jigsaw puzzler

Puzzle half complete of GA Capitol
Smyre's latest puzzle: the Georgia State Capitol. Photo courtesy of Calvin Smyre

There's something many might not know about Calvin Smyre: He's a serious jigsaw puzzler.

The big hobby: “Jigsaw puzzles clear my mind. I’m so consumed with public policy and the political arena that I have to bring some normalcy to my life,” he tells Axios.

  • “It’s the only thing that gets my mind off of politics. It's hard for me to say, but it's a truism. When I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle, I’m totally consumed.”

Details: The biggest puzzle he’s done is 2,500 pieces, which took him several months.

  • Smyre frames all his completed puzzles. He says he has 10 hanging in his house and 30 in storage.
  • His nieces and nephews gave him a custom puzzle table, which tilts up and down for optimal puzzling posture.

Fun fact: Once, he started a puzzle at 9pm and worked straight through until 5am.

Jigsaw best practices: Smyre does the outer border first. Then, he sorts pieces into boxes by color.

  • “You have to have an assembly line. You can’t just put all the pieces out. It’s too much…you do it segment by segment.”

In the car: When he's not puzzling these days, Smyre tries to decompress in the car with old school R&B, “sometimes a little Marley, a little shag,” and gospel music when he has a lot on his mind.

  • Sometimes he just prefers quiet: “I can remember days in my political career where I talked from Columbus to Atlanta on the phone, and you don't really actually know it, but it's wear and tear on you.”

Book review: Smyre is reading "Saving the Georgia Coast: A Political History of the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act."

  • “I like books that tell me about things I’ve been involved in. This is like a flashback for me,” Smyre said.
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