Pei-San Ng’s Flammable Matchstick Art


When Pei-San Ng made her first work from matches, Dollar, she noted how tempted she was to burn it. With every piece that she finished, the same urge surfaced. Eventually, perhaps taking Oscar Wilde’s advice (“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”), she gave in. Ng is well-trained in the arts, holding an AA in Interior Design from Harrington College, a Masters of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and even a BA in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology from UCLA. She makes art out of matches when she can find the time. Click through to see more of her work, including what happens when you light ’em up.

Matches: Dollar

Ng says: “This is the first match stick piece I made and it was made for the Chicago Art Department $200 exhibition. This was a collaboration between Nathan and I. I wanted to make art with balsa sticks, specifically a skeletal framed apple. This idea came from my architecture model making days in school. I love making models out of sticks. With limited resources, Nathan suggested using matches instead of balsa. Thus began my matches series. With every piece finished, came an urge to burn it. This 7″ x 9.25” piece before it was burned, it was called Temptation. Eventually, I lit it and now it’s called Burned.”

Matches: Transformation

Ng says: “This hawk piece is partially burned from claws to head to body. I am intrigued and mesmerized by the in-between state and by the fragility of the burned matches. The in-between is where the excitement happens, the point where the red heads turns to white before turning to ash, it’s the tipping point. It’s also about the control of the burn. The utilization of the act of burning to create my variance in color.”

Matches: Mookie’s Sneakers

Ng says: “This pair of sneakers were made for my dear friend and roommate, Chris Hales, AKA DJ Tapedek, AKA Mookie. He passed away early Spring 2010. In Chinese culture, we burn paper money so the spirit can take these notes with them to the afterlife. These papers are called joss paper. In contemporary culture, they have included paper cell phone, paper credit cards and paper boats. I made a pair of sneakers for Chris to take with. He loves his sneakers and he always have the perfect pair to go with his outfit. He was fashionable. These sneakers were in his Tribute show entitled ‘Tapedek: The Afters Cool Show’ at CAD on April 9th, 2010. One of the pair was burned at the end of the show with a gathering of his friends.”

Matches: Heart of Gold

Ng says: “This burning man has a heart of gold. The wood canvas has a light wash of diluted black acrylic ink. The white match sticks form continuous lines that all terminate at the gold heart. I created this piece by imagining if one were to burn it, what pattern would I want them to see…”

Matches: Passion

Ng says: “This piece is made up of approximately 2,500 match sticks and a total of 24 hours. The board is a reclaimed art board / plywood. It was previously used as a glueing surface. The type is hand drawn. Love on fire represents romance and passion or destructions and jealousy. It is raw and gritty.”

Matches: Crush

Ng says: “This 11′ x 6′ piece is composed of vintage matches that were given to me by my friend, Tanya. These matches are much shorter and their colors varied creating this dynamic piece. Crushes are small, cute, beautiful and there came many in our lives.”

Photograph taken by Marta Sasinowska.

[via Illusion Scene360]