Match Sphere: part science experiment, part sculpture, part performance art

Artist Ben Ahles, who grew up in Vermont and currently lives in New York City, had an interesting idea for a project: take some wood stick matches, and glue them together. And then glue some more. And some more. He realized that since the heads of the matches were bigger than the stick body of the match, if he glued enough of them together, it would eventually become a rounded shape … and as he continued to do it, he realized it would become a sphere.

Match sphere set on fire by artist Ben Ahles

However, this was no simple DIY craft project … there was a very focused approach to it. He utilized modeling software called “Rhino” to determine that the space created by the size of the match heads was an angle of 0.82° and that gluing singular matches side-by-side would create a circle comprised of 439 matches that would be 17.643″ in diameter. So this was the starting point for a project that would eventually take ten months of evenings and weekends to put together a final sphere consisting of approximately 42,000 matches.

So what do you do with this thing at the end of the day? You light it on fire, naturally … check out this amazing video. It runs a little long, because the total video includes the singular burn process from 3 separate angles, and the last viewpoint includes slow-mo footage, so it takes some patience to get through the whole thing, but it’s still pretty amazing:

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