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Guy Spends Almost A Year Gluing 42,000 Matches To Make A Giant Sphere, Sets It On Fire

13 May 2019

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

Les Brown

This is one of the most beautiful quotes about life. There are so many things we all wish to have or do, but never get and never do. Sometimes, no matter how crazy the idea sounds to you, you should materialize it. One Reddit user, “Wallacemk” pursued his idea which he got while playing with matches.

A whole year since he got that idea, the finished project is “burning” all over the Internet. He said that it took him just over 5 months to finish the project and that he spent $500. The project is a 42,000 match sphere. How did he do it, and why? You will see…

Wallace, from Upstate New York, spent a year in this “hot” project

He was playing with some matches when he noticed that heads of matches are slightly larger than the bodies. That made him think what would happen if he started gluing matches together…

He had to do a little bit of math to see how many matches he would need to finish the project. “I was buying them in boxes of 300 from my grocery store (I am sure they thought I was crazy) and needed to know if I was about to break the bank. I started playing around with the modeling software Rhino to get a sense of what this match sphere would ultimately become.”

He used an approximate angle of 0.82° to determine the circle that the matches would create based on the shape they have. According to the software he used, if all matches were created equal (and they are not) then he would need 439 matches to make a circle that is 17.643″ in diameter. The surface area of a sphere can be found with the equation 4πr2 and since r=8.8215″ we get 977.405 square inches. Our matches each take up approximately 0.0156 square inches of that surface so 977.405 square inches / 0.0156 square inches = 62,654 matches in a perfect world.”

That is a quarter of the model he got. His computer was too weak to render the entire model

The First Steps

That is when he started gluing the matches together. He was doing the same thing for hours and hours. The photo above this one was made in the state of excitement and optimism.

Then this photo happened. It was the end of his euphoria and the moment when he realized just how much time, energy, and matches he would need to finish the sphere. It was taking too much of his time!

“Early on I realized that aligning matches so that the heads were all sitting in the same direction helped me glue them up much much faster. I could grab about 7 matches at a time and hot glue them to the globe.”

The middle of the sphere was a depressing time. One whole box was not enough to cover a single layer of growth! There was no joy in that…

No Surrender!!

He kept on going. And the sphere was growing (duh). It started to look like a sphere, but not a perfect sphere because the matches were all of different size and shape. That is why he gave up the idea of creating a perfect sphere. “I guess I could have templated the curvature and really tried to nail it but I was so far past the point of caring that I just wanted to get it done.”

To make the things even harder, he was doing all this in the metal shop. It was really hard for him to do that, and to keep all the sparks away from his little project. “Huge thanks go out to my bosses and coworkers who put up with me making this in their space!”

This photo shows the strange shape of the sphere and the imperfection of those matches. However, the “sphere” came out to be a really cool work of art.

He kept all the used boxes, and the initial numbers were not good. He finished the project with 140 boxes of matches and every box had 300 matches. That is 42,000 matches and his initial calculations were 62,654 matches. “Maybe there aren’t exactly 300 matches in each box. Maybe I didn’t make a perfect sphere (I didn’t). Maybe matches are different sizes (they are). Still, 20,000 matches is a significant margin of error. So much for accuracy.”

This is his finish project. The green was not the same green on every match, and he doesn’t have a clue why they shifted the way they did. It took him ten months to finish the project.

The Final Touch

“Here we are doing what needs to be done.”

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Guy Spends Almost A Year Gluing 42,000 Matches To Make A Giant Sphere, Sets It On Fire
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