40,000-piece puzzle: Beavercreek woman nearly finished with pandemic project

Kids gifted her 40,000-piece Disney puzzle for Mother’s Day.

During the quarantine phase of the pandemic, many people had to find a new hobby to occupy their time. Popular quarantine activities include coloring, painting, reading and cooking. For Heather Bridgman, it was puzzles.

Bridgman, who lives in Beavercreek, was already working from home with the pandemic began in 2020. She began doing puzzles with a friend and it was fun. For Mother’s Day 2020, Bridgman’s kids gifted her the ultimate undertaking.

“They got me a 40,000-piece Disney puzzle. It became my pandemic project,” she said.

The puzzle has 10 panels that show iconic scenes from Disney movies. Some scenes include Dumbo taking a bath, Cinderella with her carriage and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” about to be kissed. Currently, Bridgman is working on panel No. 9, and said that it takes at least four to five hours just to turn over all the pieces for a panel.

“Hours? Oh, my goodness. I have no idea. I work on it in the evenings during my available time. I’d say eight to 10 hours a week, since 2020,″ she said.

Before this giant puzzle project, Bridgman said that she never really did puzzles. However, the hobby made her closer to members of her family. Bridgman convinced her mom in Florida to do puzzles and she was hooked.

“She became a puzzle-crazed maniac. She became way more obsessed than I was,” Bridgman said.

Bridgman’s mom moved into her home in fall of 2021 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her mom died shortly thereafter, leaving Bridgman with around 20 puzzles that still need to be put together.

Bridgman bonded with her daughter through the project, and they even have a puzzle tradition that they do with each one.

“We always put the last piece aside and then put it in the puzzle together. If she isn’t here, then we Facetime to do it,” she said.

When Bridgman’s Disney puzzle is finished, it will be 25 feet long and 6.67 feet wide. She has been putting the puzzles together over pieces of plywood her husband got for her. After a panel is finished, it is stored under the bed. Bridgman said her husband doesn’t mind all the mayhem.

“He couldn’t care less. He’s just happy that it’s kept me out of his hair during the pandemic. He has his-only little hobbies too,” she said.

Bridgman said that she hopes to be done with the entire project by this summer. Once she is finished, she wants to have a “puzzle party” where the panels are all put together, but it’s going to have to be somewhere other than her home.

“It’s just too big! But after it is put together, I’d like to donate it to somewhere it could be appreciated more like a library or hospital,” she said.

Bridgman said she’s not sure if she learned any life lessons doing the project over the last two years, but the project did help in some ways.

“It certainly helped to pass the time. Perseverance perhaps? Sticking to doing something. It’s been a time to be introspective and just zone out a little bit,” she said.

After she’s done with the Disney puzzle, Bridgman said she’s not sure what projects she will take on in the future. She does know that the next puzzle she takes on won’t be 25 feet long.

“Oh goodness! I just want to get through the ones from my mom. I’m looking forward to doing much smaller puzzles with much more gratification,” she said.

If a local library, hospital or business would like to help with the puzzle party or would like the finished product for display, contact Jessica Graue at jessica.graue@gmail.com.

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