HARRISON — ELMS Puzzles Inc., a 23-year-old company that produces intricate and elegant custom wooden jigsaw puzzles from a shop on Hobbs Hill Lane, will make an appearance on the “Martha Stewart Show” Tuesday.

Log on to the show’s website, marthastewart.com, click on “TV, Coming Soon,” and “The Puzzle Show” pops up, with the teaser, “Sharpen your mind with a show full of clever, creative puzzles …”

ELMS owner and President Fred Stuart and Artistic Director Rose Guay are driving to New York City on Monday to appear on the show, which airs live at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the Hallmark Channel. The show will be rebroadcast at 2 p.m.

Others who will appear on the puzzle-themed show include New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz and mechanical puzzle collector Richard Garriott.

ELMS General Manager Lisa von Hasseln of Bridgton said the invitation to be a guest on the show came about through one of the company’s longtime customers whose daughter, Annie Fisher Peters, works on the show.

Several years ago, Annie’s husband, Justin Peters, proposed marriage to her by having ELMS create a puzzle made from tickets, photos and other memorabilia of their courtship.

A photo of the puzzle in the company’s current catalogue is dubbed, “ELMS Creates a Fairy Tale.”

ELMS makes puzzles from collages already made by customers, or customers can send a box full of items that Guay arranges into a collage, then scans it into a computer to begin the process of turning it into a puzzle.

“We usually do several proposal puzzles a year,” von Hasseln said.

Guay, who began work at the company 18 years ago cutting out puzzles, will bring a saw with her to show the television audience how the unique puzzles are cut out from quarter-inch plywood. Because the pieces interlock so solidly, the entire puzzle can be picked up by one edge and none of the pieces will fall out.

She will also show TV viewers several puzzles ELMS has created from works by well-known artists, whose paintings are pictured on the company’s website, elmspuzzles.com. Each member of the studio audience will take home a souvenir gift from the company.

ELMS was founded in 1987 by Stuart’s wife, Betsy, who started the company in Baltimore, then brought it north to Maine after her husband sold his company to his employees. She named it ELMS, after the initials of her name, Elizabeth Lee McShane Stuart. Fred Stuart credits her with the vision, enthusiasm and perseverance that has won the company national recognition.

Betsy died after a seven-year battle with ovarian cancer in 2007, and her husband has carried on her work, with the help of von Hasseln, Guay and five other employees whom he credits with the growing success of the company.

The company is located on the lower level of a huge, contemporary home designed by Betsy, on a country road with a view of the western hills. One of the attractions of working for the Stuarts, employees say, has been their willingness to work around family schedules, as well as a love of family pets, who are welcome to come to work every day with their owners.

An engineer by profession, Fred takes care of the financial part of the business, relying on others for the creative work.

“The girls are the talented ones. I give them all the credit.”


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