the mind Boggles

People often ask me what is my greatest crafting feat. Here’s how it came about.

A few years ago, I lived very near to my friend Josie and we were both underemployed. As a result, we watched a lot of ANTM, and we played a LOT of Boggle.

At the height of our obsession, we decided we had to share the joy and play boggle onstage with the audience at comedy gigs. We used to draw the grid on a flipchart, which was neither large enough for most of the audience to be able to read, nor showy enough for a gig. Bigger, we had to think bigger!

My mind was tickled by the engineering puzzle of how to expand the Boggle set, but make it easily portable so we could take it to gigs. Plus, I had to keep costs to a minimum.

So having expended about £25 on Primark bedsheets, iron-on fabric stiffener and acrylic paint, followed by a very tedious afternoon or two of construction, I became the proud inventor of the World’s First* Fully Collapsible Giant Inflatable Boggle Set.

*I haven’t confirmed this, but nobody has told me otherwise.

I’ve made some improvements to it since, so that all the blocks tie together at each corner and it lies flat; but my favourite picture of it in action is this one, from its first ever outing:

That was taken at the inaugural Latitude Festival in 2006. Martin White and Matthew Crosby are sportingly holding it up so the audience could see.

The pieces are each about 14 inches cubed, and I replicated the distribution of letters from my real, normal-sized Boggle set, for maximum accuracy. Inside each cube is one of those toy punch-bag balloons from the Pound Shop, and when those are deflated the whole set packs into a shopping bag.

Despite having cracked the issue of the Boggle set, the audience participation Boggle never really worked very well. However, the giant Boggle set still comes in handy sometimes, eg for leaving subtle messages around the place.

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