Mr. John Hennessey might be one of the most romantic husbands I know. I’ve known John for, well, decades really. We go back to my earlier life when I was Sharon the Signpainter and I lettered many a panel for John in his bustling real estate enterprise. We’ve crossed paths over the years, so I was not surprised when John called for my help in creating a surprise for the lovely Marianne for their upcoming 38th anniversary.
John delivered a chest to my studio. Funny thing about it; I had monogrammed it some thirtysomething years ago and it was going to be redone as a surprise anniversary gift. He was leaving everything in my hands. The metal straps could stay, or not. It could remain cedar, or perhaps not. The subject matter was Venice, and John emailed me some great photos from a recent trip there. Beyond that, all he said was “surprise me, Sharon.” He didn’t want to see sketches, concepts, progress pics. He’d be as surprised as his wife at the unveiling.
I’ve got to do this in order. Here’s how it started out.
My husband took off the straps and brass tacks and sanded it smooth. I primed it and the fun began. Dear reader, I don’t want to lose you, so here is the finished chest.
I’ve got to tell you, I had a ball designing and painting this. Here are some progress pics.
First, a shot of the scrolls being painted on the side and the trompe l’oeil handles.
Next, I blocked in the front panel.
Here is the front finished.
This photo was the inspiration for the top of the chest.
Here is my incorporation of that photo into some fantasy scrolled framework.
One more picture of the completed chest.
The best part of this project, truly, was that I got to be there when John presented his wife with his gift. She knew nothing about what was going on except that a visitor was expected on a recent evening a few weeks ago. Hans and I carried the wrapped chest into the living room. John called his wife into the room, and that’s when I got one of those supernova moments as we unwrapped the chest and with a go ahead nod from the speechless John, Hans and I revealed it to Marianne. My heart cannot put into words the emotion in the room, but let’s just say it was all good tears.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating now. I absolutely love what I do and I’m a truly fortunate to make my living as I do.