From ELMS to Waterford

The history of The Waterford Puzzle Company, formerly ELMS Puzzles


1987 - 2018

Betsy Stuart (whose initials are E.L.M.S.) had a lifelong fascination with wooden jigsaw puzzles thanks to an uncle who cut puzzles when she was younger. She began cutting her own puzzles and slowly built up a business around it, formally starting ELMS Puzzles in 1987. Soon she was hiring and training others to help her. After her husband, Fred, sold his previous company in 1990, Fred and Betsy retired to Maine. Betsy designed their large log home to contain the puzzle company in the lower level and their living space on the upper level.

After a courageous fight with ovarian cancer, Betsy passed away in 2007. Her husband, Fred, along with artisans Lisa, Rose, Debby, Chris, and Kristin, continued the business and worked tirelessly to continue Betsy’s vision of beautifully handcrafted puzzles that will someday become, as Betsy called them, “future antiques.” Now that he’s retired, Fred is spending more time with family and friends.

A Made in Maine segment featuring ELMS Puzzles, 1997

Courtesy of our friends at Maine Public

Betsy Stuart, Founder of ELMS Puzzles, in 1997
Fred Stuart, 2018
The ELMS Puzzles team, 2018
ELMS Advertisement, 1997
ELMS Signature Piece, 1997
(Some of) The Waterford Puzzles Team, 2021
Spencer and Lizzy Bean, 2021

The Waterford Puzzle Company

2018 - Present

In 2018, Fred retired at the age of 90 and passed the torch to puzzle cutter Debby’s niece, Lizzy Bean, and her husband, Spencer.

Like Betsy, Lizzy grew up with a family member (her aunt Debby) cutting puzzles and wanted to keep the tradition alive. ELMS Puzzles continues on as The Waterford Puzzle Company, in honor of the nearby town in Maine—Waterford—where Debby lived and Lizzy spent her childhood summers doing puzzles.

Today, we’re the same group of artisans hand-cutting the same beautiful puzzles.  We’ve expanded our team in recent years to include a new generation of puzzle artisans who continue to learn and refine their skills as wooden puzzle makers— doing everything from printing the artwork and mounting it to wood, to cutting the puzzle free-hand, to finishing and packaging it for arrival in your home.

With our established artisans helping to train and mentor the newer ones, we hope to help contribute to the continuation of puzzle-cutting as an art and craft form. While our name may have changed, but our love of puzzles (and our commitment to Betsy’s visionwill always be the same.

Happy puzzling!

WPC Marketing Video, 2020
Filmed and edited by cutter Debby's son, Joe Rolfe. Features puzzle cutter Chris.