The first time I saw a clutch ball or "puzzle" ball was in Pondicherry, India. Surya and I were admiring the fabrics and handicrafts in a local shop when we came across this interesting item. The geometric shape and patchwork is what caught our eyes. If you’ve never seen one in person, they’re delightful; like a little Escher drawing that you can explore with your hands. Little did we know that puzzle balls would go on to become one of our best sellers.
They originated as traditional pincushions for the Amish and Mennonite communities. Usually, they’re referred to as “Amish puzzle balls,” “Montessori balls,” or just even “clutch balls”. They gained popularity through the help of Montessori educators and now people all over the world know that Puzzle Balls make great developmental toys. However, they aren’t easy to come by. Many people end up making their own. Sure, there’s instructions and tutorials online, but this process is complicated and time consuming.
When we decided to make our Clutch Ball we made some changes. A traditional puzzle ball is stitched together as three different segments that can be taken apart and put together again — hence the name “puzzle ball”. For the sake of safety, we decided to opt out of this feature. In keeping with the traditional aesthetic however, we designed the Wee Gallery Puzzle Ball with a variety of patterns. These patterns are in black and white to reinforce visual stimulation and they’re in a variety of textures. This makes it a toy that’s great for visual and tactile stimulation, as well as developing motor skills. As an added bonus, the fabric used is made from organic materials.
Like many of our products, the Puzzle Ball can be used through different stages of development. If you hang the sensory Clutch Ball above a child at 3 months, they will start kicking at it. At around 5 months, they’ll begin grasping at the ball. The segments of the ball not only make it easy for an infant to pick up, but they keep it from rolling too far away when dropped.
Our Puzzle Ball is popular for many reasons. The design makes it an ideal baby toy. And infants love them. There’s nothing puzzling about that.