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A puzzle for the Honorary Doctor

America was special. Born to newly immigrated Italian parents, Louis Tagliatella grew up to love and to serve our land . During World War II, he served in the Army and later worked hard to build up his business in the construction industry. The years passed, and in May of 2001, that young boy, now a man of 80, was the CEO of his company and was receiving an honorary doctorate degree. His employees wanted to give him a memorable gift, something of value but with craftsmanship he would appreciate. One of his employees contacted me, and we began working on a very special puzzle. We started with an old black and white photograph taken in 1943.

As you can see, it was faded, had creases, some telephone poles, and lights and wires that really didn't add to the picture. The first step was to clean up the photo and add some appropriate color while still preserving the vintage feel of the print. Because the American flag was an important symbol, I also added color to the three flags to make them stand out.

I asked about his hobbies, his work, and what people thought he would most like to see as figural pieces in his puzzle. I received suggestions of his company logo, construction items, his boat and even pictures of a waterfront development project his company had recently finished. The image on the left was a postcard that I realized could become part of the puzzle. I faded it into the upper right of the original picture to represent what was to come for the young horseman. The pictures on the right all became the basis for custom-designed figural pieces.

I added his name, gave the puzzle an antique patterned border, and created and placed the figurals. Here are the results.

The puzzle has the following figurals (which you can see more clearly in back view of the puzzle below).

- An equestrian jumping in the upper left to show the past
- The tower and whale weathervane, and the company logo placed on the right, near or in the super-imposed image of the development, to show the future
- A boat with people fishing and catching a big one. (This is a multi-piece figural with a cut line to connect the boat and the fish)
- A graduation cap just over the rider's head
- And a hammer, saw, and bulldozer in the lower center and left - Our signature piece, a stylized iris

After the puzzle was cut, the back was hand-finished with oil and shellac, as are all our puzzles, so that the puzzle pieces are nice to touch and the back is as nice to look at as the front.

Congratulations Dr. Tagliatella, it was a pleasure to create your puzzle and thank you for letting me share your story.

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