Doreen Jordan thrives on big challenges. So when the Auburn mother of two and self-professed “crafter” decided to create a life-size, three-dimensional stained-glass man, no one doubted her resolve.

“Doreen attempted something very courageous; it’s the sort of project that’s a leap of faith,” says Maine Art Glass Studio co-owner and instructor Nel Bernard. “None of us had ever attempted anything of that size before, and Doreen thought it out extremely well. We are all very proud of her and think that she did an absolutely amazing job on this.”

The lighted 6-foot-3 piece dubbed “Farmer Jim” took Doreen 4½ years to complete. Weighing 70 pounds, it stands behind a small wooden wagon. It was that wagon that first gave her the idea to construct such a grandiose sculpture. For years she looked out her front window and, seeing the wagon in her yard, thought something needed to be pushing it; she just had to figure out what.

She conceptualized the design and construction materials. Convincing her brother to be wrapped in a form-fitting cast to create the mold and basic structure for “Farmer Jim,” Doreen promised she’d name the sculpture after him, a part of the bargain. “I even gave him my brother’s green eyes,” she said with a smile.

Hours of painstakingly cutting and rearranging pieces of cut, ground, foiled and soldered glass to fit “just right” took patience.

“A lot of times I’d come into the studio to work, and I’d work six hours and only get six pieces done,” she said, “but you do what you have to do. It’s one piece at a time, one piece closer, and that’s how you have to look at it.”

She finished the head, feet, arms and legs first, and began the process of putting the pieces together. She credits her husband for helping to figure out the framing and support system of “Farmer Jim,” an internal construction of copper tubing ½ to ¾ of an inch thick as well as copper wire used to hold pieces in place. After that, it was a little like putting a puzzle together.

“When he was lying down, all the pieces matched up really well,” Doreen recalled, “but then when I attached pieces on the frame, they didn’t align and I had to take big pieces off. It was just guesswork and putting it up, wiring it, taking pieces out and putting new pieces in.” Hardest of all was attaching the arms at the armpit, which she struggled to get at the correct angle.

When only “Farmer Jim’s” back was left to be finished, Doreen installed nine lights, all selected for their differing gradients, into the hollow body to illuminate her art.

“I’d like to see him in a museum,” she says while admiring her work. “But the plan is to put him in my front lawn. He’s really cool and I’d just like him to be able to be seen.”

Next on the agenda? A stained glass wife, dog and horse to accompany Farmer Jim, a regular farmyard menagerie.

It took Doreen Jordan 4½ years to complete her stained-glass sculpture named “Farmer Jim.” There will be an open house from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at the Maine Art Glass Studio in Lisbon Falls.


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