A flaming passion: ex-miner creates everyday replicas with matches

Images: A chessboard made from matchsticks by Janusz Urbanski is pictured at his flat in Ruda Slaska, Poland May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

By Janusz Chmielewski and Kacper Pempel

RUDA SLASKA, Poland (Reuters) – Janusz Urbanski has a one of a kind chessboard he never plays, a personalised guitar he does not strum and a boat he cannot sail. Why? They are all made from tens of thousands of matches.

For the last 40 years, the former Polish miner and ironworker has harboured a passion to build replicas of objects, buildings and famous sites with just match sticks and glue.

The 60-year old’s home in Ruda Slaska, a small town in Poland’s southern Silesia region, is filled with such sculptures as well as plastic bags full of matchboxes.

“It takes me 10, 12 hours everyday. Once you begin, it pulls you in, you want to finish fast and see the end product,” Urbanski told Reuters. “You already have the next idea brewing in your head.”

Urbanski believes he has used around 11 million matches since he first started making the sculptures, a hobby which began from a model making workshop.

He burns the heads before painstakingly gluing the matches together. His sculptures fill his flat and vary in size. The boat, named “Stefania” after his late mother-in-law, is 2.4 metres (7.9 ft) long.

“I wanted to make a big boat to commemorate her,” he said. “Maybe this is the biggest ship made from match sticks.”

Urbanski has also made a replica of part of the Great Wall of China, which took him several months and around 150,000 matches. He also has replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, a soccer stadium, truck and small house.

A local celebrity, he likes to make the sculptures as gifts and rarely sells them.

But some of his works are displayed at a local museum and a replica of his local church was donated to the parish.

“I’m proud of every one of my works,” Urbanski said.

“When I make something, it’s big. Of course it takes time, but I put my heart into it.”

(Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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