Michael deMeng – Matchbox Vignettes

Michael deMeng
Matchbox Vignettes
Thursday 20 April
One Day Workshop

matchbook shrines

Gather ’round and let me tell you a little tale….a very little tale. I remember when I was in third grade rummaging through my grandfather’s dresser drawer (which I was not supposed to be doing). Inside that drawer I found a small matchbox with a solitary match inside. On the exterior was a printed image of a robot, along with the words “Robot Brand” and “Made in Japan”.

It seemed like something of little consequence and being big a science fiction buff it seemed like something that was more appropriate for me than an adult. After my visit, I stuffed it in my pocket and brought it home with me. I kept it secret for a while, worried that my parents might recognize it and bust me. After a few weeks passed I decided to do something with it.


I removed the match and tied bits of wire around it, creating arms and legs. I then took some toothpicks and created strange people out of them. I glued some paper inside the interior and drew some crumbling buildings; probably a byproduct of my Godzilla obsession at the time. At the time this was my favourite toy, where I spent hours creating small cinematic tales of epic proportions.

I have no idea what became of that matchbox but what I find amazing is how such a small thing can be so profound to ones memory. So in honour of this moment in time I thought it would be fun create a workshop that creates stories in minute spaces…in particular matchboxes. In this class we will transform these everyday items into little vignettes and stories. The characters could be model train figures, made out of clay or, like my early creations…made form tiny objects and imagination.


Kit fee $10 includes glues, clay, mica sheets, paint.

Student supply list:

A few matchboxes. Nothing larger than 3″ x 4″
Small figurines or something that will be featured inside the box. Ideally small characters like model train figurines.
Small bits of paper, photos and ephemera. This could be images or scenes that will be in the background of your characters.
Random tiny doodads. Interesting buttons or gears or typewriter parts etc.
Bits of ribbon or fabric.
Paint Brushes (a couple small detail brushes, and some cheap brushes (1/2 inch to 1 inch in size)

Optional Supplies:
Tools: Heat gun, Dremel with cut off wheel