The American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore

American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.

I’ve glued four matches together and already had a few revelations. One, it’s not as easy as it sounds, and two, I should have considered how I planned to hold them in place while they dry before I glued them together. Then there is the obvious “what am I actually going to build?” question, but I am just sticking things together at this point and hoping something comes out at the end. At this point I’m thinking “some kind of bug… or maybe a tower of some kind”.

A couple of days ago I wandered into Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum for a quick look around. Four hours later I emerged with a piece of scratch paper covered in notes, a head full of ideas, and an original work of art that the gift shop manager/artist gave to me. (He is, like me, apparently better at making things than he is at accepting money for them).

One of the ideas was to shamelessly copy one of the artists and try building things out of matches. This appealed to me for several reasons: they are cheap (unless you buy the 160,000+ he used to make a replica of the Lusitania ship), readily available, and when I feel like it I can burn whatever the awful thing I create happens to be.


Now that I’m back in Ohio, with 750 matches and a bottle of glue, I’ve come to the tricky part. Also to be taken into consideration: how to orient the match heads so as to maintain a steady burn when it comes time to torch the piece. Or do I want a steady burn? Maybe it should go in fits and starts? One thing is sure, there needs to be a spectacular fireball at the end. Now I realize my assumption that the fire should start at the base has problems: by the time things spread to the top of the creature/structure, it will have all collapsed. This is complicated stuff!

Then there was the memory of getting in glue fights with a classmate Mike, back in third grade. We’d point the Elmer’s glue bottles at each other and squeeze quickly to get a jet of glue all over… well, pretty much everything. Sure was more fun than learning multiplication tables.

As always happens when I see the work of really talented people and then try to do it myself, the instant I start I realize the vast scope of how much I can’t do it… but I’m going to give it a whirl and see what happens anyhow, see what I learn in the process. Right now my bug and/or tower has four legs – it’s a start!