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Stonington lobster trap tree is now a puzzle

Stonington — Two weeks ago, Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Konicki asked people on Facebook if they would be interested in buying a 1,000-piece puzzle that depicts the wildly popular lobster trap tree at the Town Dock.

Konicki floated the idea because she wanted to make sure she could sell the 352 puzzles she would need to cover the cost of making them.

"It was clear within two hours we should do a puzzle," she said.

Within three days of announcing the sale of 1,000 limited-edition puzzles, they were sold out as she and her staff worked over the weekend to process the orders.

"I never thought we'd sell 1,000 in three days. But so much about this project has shocked me," she said.

The 25-foot-tall tree, which is made from 378 lobster traps and decorated with lights and 360 hand-painted buoys, has attracted more than 20,000 visitors since it was unveiled on Nov. 27. The tree, which will remain up until Jan. 31, recently was recognized by BBC News as "one of the 18 most Amazing trees in the world."

The puzzle is actually an original watercolor painting of the tree by Stonington artist Susan Scala who painted more than 35 of the buoys on the tree. It shows about 140 of the buoys.

The quick sellout left Konicki with a good problem, there was more demand for puzzles but she promised the initial buyers that it was a limited edition of 1,000.

So she had Scala paint 70 different buoys on the tree and orders began to pour in again. There is also a puzzle featuring a digital photo of the tree at night taken by Konicki. 

The chamber is taking puzzle orders through Wednesday. The cost is $25. Information about buying puzzles can be found at www.lobstertraptree.com. The first puzzles can be picked up Feb. 4 when an auction of 113 of the buoys takes place at St. Mary Church. Online bidding is occurring now. 

Konicki said she and her staff are shipping puzzles around the world as the tree's reputation grows. She attributes the interest in the puzzles to the fact the colorful images transfer well to a puzzle and putting one together is good indoor activity for the winter.

j.wojtas@theday.com 

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