Iowa artist Patrick Acton has glued over 6.5 million ordinary wooden matchsticks into 70 incredibly detailed scale models of life-like sculptures, complex machines, and world renown architecture. Acton uses the tiny two-inch long sticks to build huge models like his 13-foot long true-to-scale model of the battleship USS Iowa, and a 12-foot lighted model of the United States Capitol. The Matchstick Marvels display has drawn visitors from all over the world.
Matchstick Marvels models have been seen on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Home and Garden TV, PBS, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and RFD’s Small Town, Big Deal. Additionally, the models have been featured in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Reminisce, AAA Travel, Wood, The Iowan, Country America , Farm Bureau, and Workbench.
For the past 40 years Acton has used matchsticks by the millions to build these unique models that can be seen in museums around the world. Many are featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums in North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. You can see many of Acton’s most intricate creations at the Matchstick Marvels Tourist Center, 319 2nd Street, Gladbrook, Iowa.
Matchstick Marvels version of the International Space Station on display at NASA’s Houston Space Center, courtesy of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, 2015.
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