CORAL SPRINGS, FL - John Parilla had the idea for a long time.
The Coral Springs woodworker wanted to make a mosaic portrait of his 1-year-old daughter Nora – using wood, of course – as a gift to his wife.
And so, the 30-year-old spent more than 18 hours in his garage workshop collecting, cutting away, and placing each piece on a wood canvas.
In all, it took close to 7,680 pieces to assemble the colorful portrait.
Parilla presented it last Sunday, on Mother’s Day, to his wife, Stephanie.
“I was completely surprised,” she said. “John typically makes me amazing, thoughtful gifts, but this was in a league of its own.”
Stephanie Parilla knew he was working on something for Mother’s Day, but she could not have expected a 7,680 piece mosaic of their daughter’s face.
“I couldn't even imagine how he got the idea for such a creative piece of art, let alone the patience to put it together,” she said. “I could immediately tell it was a true labor of love.”
He initially considered making the portrait out of something different.
“I originally thought one made of Legos would be really cool. Once the idea of using wood popped into my head, I knew I had to do it,” he said.
John Parilla first picked up the woodworking craft in 2014 while living in Virginia.
The federal government worker started small, selling projects made with just a few tools in his one-bedroom apartment. From there, he did a Kickstarter campaign to sell more of his custom work, and when he moved to South Florida, he decided to go all in and make a career out of it.
His dream career was launched forward following a second Kickstarter in 2016 and the creation of his YouTube channel in 2017.
From there, Parillaworks took off.
Today, his YouTube channel has more than 75,500 subscribers. His most popular video, showing the creation of a Lego mini-figure shadowbox, has reached 2.5 million views. His Instagram page has gained more than 2,200 followers.
He’s even got shirts and a hat for fans to purchase and diagrams available for them to create projects he posts tutorials for.
Last year, his booth at the Coral Springs Art Festival got a lot of attention for its unique craft pieces, including revived vintage post office doors.
He’s created hundreds of pieces for clients across the county as well as for his friends and his own home. But among his favorites is, obviously, the wooden portrait of his daughter. He said he chose to create the image of his daughter because he liked the contrast in her smile and the way her hair flowed across her forehead.
It’s now a centerpiece in their home, sitting on a handmade apothecary chest near the front entrance.
Stephanie Parilla said she’s still looking for the perfect spot for the piece in their home, but until she finds it, she likes seeing her daughter’s face each time she walks through the front door.
“When I (first) saw it, I couldn't help but tear up. This is a gift I'll cherish forever,” she said.
So what’s he going to make for the next Mother’s Day?
John Parilla isn’t sure, but at some point inspiration will strike, just like it did for his fast-growing business. For now, he’s mapping out his future path which includes selling more custom pieces on his website and growing his online presence.
“I never thought I would be designing and building custom pieces of furniture, along with filming the process for others to see,” he said. “It’s my favorite thing to do and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”