The Awe-Inspiring Matchstick Architecture of Patrick Acton

Patrick Acton is known as the world’s best matchstick artist for a reason. His extensive collection features scale wooden models of iconic film locations like Lord of the Rings’ Minas Tirith and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Wizardry, made from hundreds of thousands of matchsticks.

Acton was one of the first artist I wrote about, when I started Oddity Central, almost five years ago. He was working on one of his masterpieces, a detailed model of the famous fortress city Minas Tirith, as seen in the Lord of the Rings 3: The Return of the King, from 420,000 matchsticks. Since then, he’s built lots of other astonishing matchstick sculptures and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The 59-year-old American artist, who works as a career counselor in Gladbrook, Iowa, started his career as a matchstick modeler back in 1977, when he pieced together a small-scale replica of a local church from 500 matches. He did it all with only Ohio Blue Tip matches purchased at the grocery store, a bottle of school glue, a utility knife, and a piece of sandpaper. He had always enjoyed working with wood and tinkering with things around his parent’s home, and after graduating from college, matchstick modelling became an enjoyable hobby. Although he has achieved worldwide notoriety for his mind-blowing creations, Patrick Acton continued to work as a counselor and dedicated only a few hours a night working on his fragile models. He recently accepted Ripley’s offer to build models for their Odditoriums, full time.

But he has started taking matchstick architecture a bit more seriously, and nowadays, instead of buying his supplies at the local craft shop and cutting off the sulphur tip, he bulk buys specialist non-sulphur tipped matches and gallons of glue. This allowed him to work much faster and increase the size of his models from inches to feet. Throughout the years, Acton also managed to develop his own technique, which allows him to curb the matchsticks using pliers, and create exact replicas, down to the finest details. So far, the Iowa native has created around 60 highly-detailed matchstick models, numbering up to 600,000 matchsticks, and which took between two and three years to build. His most famous creations include a matchstick replica of the US Capitol, made with 500,000 tiny pieces of wood, a model of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, from 175,000 matchsticks, and a scale wooden version of Hogwarts from over 600,000 matches. Scheduled for 2013 is a detailed model of the new World Trade Center in New York, a project that might see him reach the 1 million matchstick mark.

To see more of his fantastic wooden masterpieces, just visit Patrick Acton’s Matchstick Museum.