20-year old Djordje Balac spends weeks, sometimes months at a time working from sunrise to midnight creating realistic models of industrial vehicles like trucks, excavators and cranes exclusively from matchsticks and glue.
Djordje’s passion for making wooden models dates back to general school. At first he cut all the necessary parts from pieces of wood, but soon he discovered matchsticks were a much better building material and, as he puts it. “the rest is history”. He started using hundreds of boxes of matches to create small-size models of his favorite trucks and industrial equipment, and spent weeks trying to get all the details just right. As his skills improved, the young man from Gospic, Croatia, decided to take his matchstick art to the next level by making the wooden replicas operational. So in 2006, he started building larger matchstick models, concentrating not only on replicating every design feature, but also on functionality. Despite working with a rigid material like matchsticks, he managed to make the arms of his excavator and crane models extend and turn like they do on real ones, and the cabins of his trucks detachable. After posting photos of his creations on forums and social media sites, Djordje Balac got the recognition he deserved, and was even invited to display his models at fairs and exhibitions around his home country.
The first complex matchstick model Djordje built was the Russian truck GAZ 63 A. It took him six months to complete it and he spent 576 boxes of matches and 6 kilograms of glue. He has since then pieced together an impressive collection of wooden industrial vehicles, but he is most proud of his Liebherr LTM 11200 – the world’s largest crane. His replica is made from 175,518 matchsticks, 20 kg of glue and 8 kg of varnish. It’s also fully functional. Balac told reporters he worked on it every day for three months straight, from eight in the morning until midnight. He often forgot to eat and only saw his friends if they came to visit him in his garage. The modeler admits it was a really strenuous time, but thinks it was all worth it in the end.
These days, the unemployed programmer is looking for work to finance his next project. His Liebherr LTM 11200 model cost him a total of 8,000 kuna ($1,360), and while he’d love to build more matchstick wonders, he’s low on funds. “I can not find a job,” Djordje told 24Hours News. “I’d like to do something that has to do with matches. It would be nice if I could make a living doing what I love.”
Photos: Djordje Balac/Facebook