Your Friends at ELMS
I am the proud husband of Betsy Stuart who founded ELMS Puzzles in 1987. I sold my previous company in Baltimore, Md. to the employees in 1990 and retired to Maine. Betsy designed our large log home to contain the puzzle company in the lower level and our living space on the upper level.
As an engineer, my talent at ELMS was restricted to working with numbers, such as entering and paying bills, estimating sales, calculating costs of goods sold, and purchasing and picking up required items for manufacturing the puzzles. My most valuable work is in the assembly and taking apart of the different rental puzzles that were returned by our Puzzler Club members that have a damaged or missing piece.
Since Betsy's untimely death, I have become the Owner/President and have strived to help the really talented people who create the beautiful puzzles that Betsy used to refer to as future antiques. They are the heart and hands of the Company.
Born, raised, and still living in the neighboring town of Bridgton, I have great appreciation for the beauty of Maine's natural surroundings. My husband and I became empty nesters when our two sons completed college, and we are looking forward to this next stage of life.
I am passionate about many things: family, friends, gardening, music, good food and good books, volunteering in my community, camping, and much more. My golden retriever, Emmett, is my constant companion in all travels, even here at work! Emmett's cat, Izzy, keeps the home front in line.
Loving crafts and needing a flexible job while raising kids and caretaking family members led me into this job in 1995. I became a cutter and enjoyed it for many years. Being interested in all aspects of puzzle production eventually led me into working more closely with Betsy. As her cancer progressed and she delegated more of the running of ELMS onto her employees, I eventually moved from cutting into the managing of ELMS Puzzles daily life.
I really enjoy the creative process of a puzzle from start to finish. I love talking with customers, learning about their lives and how our puzzles fit into their daily world…it's always interesting!
Cutting puzzles was the beginning of my career at ELMS many years ago. I now also design Special Custom Borders and both of which were Betsy creations. As Artistic Director, I license artists for their images, help maintain our website and also computer generate our annual catalog and requested special items such as photo collages and replacement pieces.
I have two grown children who continue to be the light in my life and I have been recently blessed with my second grandchild. In my "quiet time", I keep busy with my own ART business, RED ROSE FINE ART, which has led me to the create my own website.
Living in Maine and being in kinship with its natural surroundings, helps to sustain my art and continues to delight and amaze me.
I feel fortunate to have personally known Betsy Stuart, ELMS founder. Not only was she a good friend, she was also instrumental in changing the course my life has taken.
ELMS is unusual in many respects. Aside from schedule flexibility, the ability to home school our children and bring your pets to work, ELMS' creative and able talents seem to be as diverse as each individual. Betsy not only created an amazing and unique business, she founded a creative expression for many local talents. She made us family.
It was by chance that I began working at ELMS Puzzles, right here in Harrison, the town in which I live.
As a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, I have been a professional cellist for most of my life. In the fall of 1974, having spent a season playing in the Syracuse Symphony, and then in the Calgary Philharmonic, I fulfilled a lifetime dream to live and work in Maine. At that time, I began playing in the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and continue to do so today. I also have a full private studio of cello students, conduct a youth orchestra at the University of Southern Maine, and play in various other performing groups, such as the Portland Opera, the Portland Chamber Orchestra, and the White Mountain Musical Arts Festival in North Conway, NH. All the while, I have used crafts, such as rug hooking and punch needle as a respite from the world of performance and teaching.
One day in the spring of 2003, I happened to visit ELMS Puzzles, (just up the hill from where I live,) and was totally enthralled by the creative works of art that were being made. An off-the-cuff comment to Betsy, that I would LOVE to cut puzzles, led me to becoming an apprentice, and then a true puzzle cutter. This opportunity came at a time when I was ending a ten year tenure as the host of the Portland Symphony's Kinderkonzerts. I was able to commit to being a part-time cutter for ELMS, and continue as such.
I have lived in Harrison since 1976, where I raised my three children, and now continue to raise my dog.
I have been happily married to Jeff for 30 years and we have a 28 year old son, Saben, who manages a snowboard shop in Portland and a 24 year old daughter, Zakia, who is a preschool teacher is Boston. Our two long-haired cats are Dahlia and Duncan. We live in an old farmhouse that was built in the 1850's and is located in the western foothills of Harrison. My state-licensed nursery school is in my home. This fall I will begin my 28th year of teaching. During the past 12 summers, I have worked at the Harrison Recreation Department as the assistant director and the art teacher where I offer a variety of craft classes.
I am an ELMS cutter and I am always amazed at the quality and creativity of the work of my fellow cutters. Every day these hard-working women exhibit so much imagination! It is one of those places which fosters and thrives on creative energy, whether it be in the choice of special pieces, the innovative way they are placed in the puzzle or just the cutting itself. I welcome the challenge to perfect my skill in cutting these fascinating puzzles. My signature piece is a sweater with a heart design in the center. This piece is indicative of my LOVE for working with natural fibers. I dye, spin, weave and knit clothing. Last winter I made about 20 pairs of sox and mailed them to a Russian orphanage. My hands are never idle. In my free time I also enjoy canoeing, swimming, walking, and reading books about spirituality.
I live in the beautiful town of Harrison, Maine and have two lovely children, Riley and Keegan. Our household also includes one Golden Retriever. One might say I have been "living the dream"! Prior to working for ELMS Puzzles, I was very fortunate to be able to be a stay at home mom before my son, Keegan, started school. Just when I thought that life could not get any better, I started working for ELMS Puzzles. I must say that I have enjoyed every minute spent with this wonderful, talented group. I have always been a fan of putting together challenging puzzles and to be able to work at a premier jigsaw puzzle company just adds to my dream.
When I was invited to join the crew at ELMS, I was very excited that I would be able to work in a creative, fun environment which mandates that I use POWER TOOLS! In the spare time that I have I enjoy gardening and spending quality time with my family and friends.