Saturday 23 June 2018

Watch a 42,000-match sphere that took 10 months to build burn in this jaw-dropping video

It took artist Ben Ahles 10 months to create the structure, and he waited two years to burn it.

The sphere met its fire-y end (@benahlesahles/PA)
The sphere met its fire-y end (@benahlesahles/PA)

By Grace Rahman, Press Association

This was the moment an artist finally set alight the 42,000-match globe he had taken 10 months to hand make.

It cost Ben Ahles around 500 US dollars (£360) to buy all those matches after he came up with the idea.

“I was playing with some matches and realised they would make a sphere if I began gluing them together,” he told the Press Association.

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Taking into account the different sizes of each match’s head and stalk, Ben calculated how many he’d need before he started, because he “needed to know if I was about to break the bank”.

Using some nifty maths, he rustled up a 3D model of the structure.

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A chunk of the 3D render of the match globe Ben made

Then he got to work sticking the matches together with a hot glue gun, and slowly the curvature of the globe began to take shape.

As the number of matches grew, Ben said his feeling of “excitement and optimism” and “euphoria” made way to a “strong understanding of just how much time, energy, and matches were going to go into this sphere”.

He got into the habit of lining up the matches with their heads in one direction and sticking them onto the globe seven at a time.

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Thousands of matches lying head up next to the semi-assembled globe

He described getting to the middle of the globe as “a depressing time”.

As the hole at the top started to close, he said it got harder to place the matches correctly.

“Also it should be noted that I was doing all this work in a metal shop so it was a lot of fun to keep sparks away from this,” he said.

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Half a globe of matches

He kept all the match boxes to calculate how many he’d used, and on finishing he realised his initial estimate was off by a large margin – he had expected to use around 62,000 matches, a whole 20,000 more than he did.

Ben says this was down to not making a “perfect sphere”, but he also suspected there weren’t exactly 300 matches in a box, which was the number he used to calculate the total.

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The globe's hole closes

And after chipping away at the project on evenings and weekends for just under a year, it was finally finished.

Then after a couple more years with the potential fireball just lying around, Ben finally decided to set fire to it.

The stage is set

A post shared by Ben Ahles (@benahlesahles) on

It took a couple of goes to light it up, but once he did there was no stopping it.

And even after it burnt to a crisp, the hollow sphere stayed pretty intact.

“Green has turned to black, potential has turned to spent,” Ben said of the project online, adding, “I am never doing this again.”

Press Association

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