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MATCHSTICK ART: Mixing charred matchsticks and Grandma’s quilt patterns


With simple supplies and respect for her past, Bessie Johnson is offering another exciting art revival.  It is called Burnt Matchstick Art.  It is a wonderful art for all ages!


The beauty of the art is in its simplicity.  All you need to get started is a box of charred matchsticks, glue, toe nail clippers and some imagination.  Unfinished items, like unfinished picture frames and tissues boxes, can be inexpensively purchased at craft stores.


Bessie teaches matchstick art workshops to adults, high school students and children. Bessie's workshops vary with the needs of each group she teaches. She does short classes and demonstrations (one hour or more), as well as longer workshops (from one day to two weeks). She focuses the content on topics that relate to the group.  Bessie has presented workshops at major art festivals, book clubs, civic organizations, school systems and museums.



Workshop participants learn to express their creativity with matchstick projects that are charming and useful, due to its endless versatility and variety. Bessie provides step-by-step instruction and the imaginative touches that transform burnt matchsticks into stunning art pieces.  Workshop participants also discover techniques that ignite their desire to experiment with projects that will open their eyes to a world of possibilities.


With fun and finesse, Bessie demonstrates how to create texture and beauty using materials they have around their own homes for gorgeous effects. She uses tools such as a knife, straight-razor, glue and a file.  For in-school programs, students use only toe nail clippers as a tool for cutting matchsticks as a safety precaution.​

The matchstick art workshops teach students how to create beautiful wood objects that are decorative and practical.  For example, workshop students could serve tea on a tray that they decorated themselves using burnt matchsticks. They could embellish a frame that complements a decor. The students could also turn a plain wood shelf into a space for hanging special things or create a sign for a child's room.





Matchstick Art can also be used as a unique brain exercise program. These simple art exercises help stimulate the uses of the five senses in unexpected ways. The art exercises are offbeat, fun and can be done anywhere and at anytime.


Matchstick Art is recreational and a valuable activity in occupational therapy in cases where the muscles in the hand and arm need rehabilitation.  It is an inexpensive hobby that can easily be turned into a home business. Some senior citizens have found it to be a source of extra income.


Burnt Matchstick Art is recreational and encourages creativity and fellowship. Its possibilities are endless!


How to safely burn matchsticks


Burning matches requires some care.


  1. Stand the matchsticks closely packed in a small votive candle holder.

  2. Place them in a small boiler, light the matches.

  3. After a brief burn cover the boiler with a tight lid to shut off the oxygen and stop the matches from burning.

  4. The matches should be burned at least two weeks before they are used and placed in a well-ventilated place until the pronounced burn smell is gone.

  5. The blackened tips of the matches should be carefully cleaned with a paper towel or tissue to remove grainy ashes and soot.


For a special effect and texture, carburize the burned matchsticks by scorching the other end and the center using a candle.


Hold the matchsticks  over the burning candle flame until it reaches the desired scorched effect.  By simply manipulating the burned end of wooden matches, a variety of designs can be created.

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