March 21 viewing party of sphere before it is transported to Portland Jetport

Sculptor Jay Sawyer honors David McLaughlin legacy

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 9:15pm

    WARREN — After Penobscot Bay Pilot launched in 2012, one of our first stories focused on Warren scrap metal sculptor Jay Sawyer and his quirky metal spheres in a piece titled Why does everyone want to get their hands on Jay Sawyer’s balls?  One giant sphere, in particular, A Spirit Of Its Own, was inspired by Sawyer’s close friend and mentor, David McLaughlin, also a welder/sculptor. When McLaughlin passed away in 2010, he’d bequeathed to Sawyer his coveted collection of steel shear rings, used in the construction of the trusses that went over a hangar at the Brunswick Naval Air Station. His final wish was that Sawyer would use the shear rings in other pieces. With that in mind, Sawyer created A Spirit Of Its Own using some of McLaughlin’s remaining shear rings. 

    Creating the sculpture and securing a prominent location for its display has taken well over two years. A grant from The 1916 Foundation made it possible for the sculpture to be included in the permanent collection of the Davistown Museum of Liberty, and on loan indefinitely to the Portland International Jetport.

    Paul Bradbury, director of The Portland Jetport, thought A Spirit Of Its Own would make a perfect addition to the airport’s grounds, not only for its unique look and the shear rings’ aviation connection, but also because its spherical shape represented the globe, a common imagery of the airline industry.

    Sawyer helped choose an outdoor location on the airport grounds, alongside the Jetport Boulevard, the primary access road to the terminal.

    “I have always had a special feeling about that strip of road by the runway,” he said. “It takes me back to my first flight out of Maine when I was in the Merchant Marines. I couldn’t help but remember all of those strange feelings about this particular spot when we were driving the stake in the ground where the sculpture would go.”

    Given the sculpture’s grand scale, Sawyer thought it needed to be elevated. 

    “I think spheres are beautiful to start with. Some of them look good just sitting on the ground, but some of them deserve a better presentation and this is certainly one of them,” he said.

    Thus, he set to work building a stately stand for the sphere out of flat bar steel, which stands nearly 10 feet tall and cradles the sculpture. Additionally, Sawyer and Davistown Museum are collaborating on writing a book about this sculpture, which will provide, in part, an account of how A Spirit Of Its Own was created.

    On Friday, March 21, Sawyer is inviting the public to see the sculpture. After, it will be transported from Sawyer’s property in Warren to the Jetport for installation. A dedication will take place later on June 6 at the Portland International Jetport and plans are for the publication to coincide with the event.

    Art enthusiasts and friends of McLaughlins are encouraged to attend the March 21 event at Sawyer’s sculpture gallery, 131 Camden Road (Rt 90), one-quarter mile from Route 1 in Warren.  Look for the patriotic pick up truck at the entrance. Visitors can arrive as early as 3 p.m. and there will be a group photo taken at 5:30 p.m., which will be provided to the Warren Historical Society and other interested organizations. It’ll be muddy so take appropriate footwear.

     Sawyer can be reached at or by calling 273-3948.  More info on Sawyers art can be found at

    Kay Stephens can be reached at