The “Eye Fill Burr” was the IPP37 Exchange Puzzle of Steve Nicholls from the UK. Quite a cool name I might add for a burr puzzle that does not look like a burr; it not only describes the operation of the puzzle but the name is also a play on the words “Eiffel”, that famous landmark in Paris where IPP37 was held this year. If you didn’t catch this right away, well, you are not the only one. I didn’t either until I started playing with it.
Now back to the puzzle; the Eye Fill Burr is shaped oval like an eye and the instructions come as followings: “Swap out one piece of the iris and fill the eye with the pupil”. The entire puzzle is 3D printed as Steve usually does with his Exchange and other puzzles, such as his Vapors, Helical Burr and Pole Dancers. It is around 11.5cm x 5.5cm x 4.5cm in size. As you can see from the photos, the puzzle comes assembled with three pieces of the blue iris and separately there is another iris-piece and the pupil. When I first took out the puzzle, I thought that the separate blue piece was a spare, just in case someone broke one of the other pieces during play. But I realised during play that actually the 4th piece was to substitute one of the three inside the eye. And you need to add the black pupil piece in as well.
Well, what resembles a free-form looking puzzle is really an interlocking burr using the triangular format on the inside, with the frame and pieces shaped appropriately to resemble an eye. While only three pieces in the frame during the start position, removal is not a simple as it seems. I did have to manipulate the pieces around a bit to figure out how best to remove one of the three identical pieces. Rotations appear to be necessary but once you have figured out the orientation of the pieces relative to the frame, removal of the pieces is not as difficult as one would imagine, but nonetheless the execution can be rather tricky. It did take me a while to get it right. Now for the re-assembly with the pupil, it is harder since now four (instead of three) pieces need to be inside the frame. Again, some thinking through how the pieces should go and it becomes fairly manageable. I am not sure about this but I think a slight bit of force may be necessary to insert the black pupil since the puzzle is 3D printed and the tolerances are not as tight and precise as wooden burrs finely cut and crafted in a jig. I hope I wasn’t doing it wrong tho’. All in, I think Steve came up with a great (and unique) concept for the design and nicely executed.