Dudley artist's miniature matchstick models are a marvel

It comes complete with moving shovel arms and doors and a removable engine with fully working parts – but this mechanical digger is made entirely of matchsticks.

Dudley artist's miniature matchstick models are a marvel

The digger is the latest creation from Dudley artist John Hurley and is the result of more than a year's work.

The talented 70-year-old former lorry driver and machine operator created the mini masterpiece from 250,000 matches and adding to the accuracy of the piece the wheels turn and even the operator's seat swivels around like in a real machine.

Mr Hurley, who lives in Dixons Green Road, said he had not counted the number of hours he had spent working on the model but estimated it to be in the hundreds.

"It is hard to keep track as sometimes I will work on a piece all day and then not touch it again for a week," he said.

"All-in-all the digger has taken me just over a year to complete."

The digger is the latest in a long line of models Mr Hurley has created using only matches since he first took up the hobby at the age of 11. He started by creating tobacco tins for people in the area – covering tins in matches of varied shapes and sizes.

"I created a lot of the tins for people. When I was growing up a lot of people used to smoke so the used matches were certainly not in short supply," he said. "After that it became an interest of mine and I started to look at what else I could create using matches."

He said his mother Florence had been supportive of his talent, spending hours sorting out matches of different sizes for him.

Among the other models created by Mr Hurley include a number of gipsy caravans of various sizes and designs. All of them have working lights and movable wheels and Mr Hurley has even created small tools, such as shovels and pick-axes.

Mr Hurley sells the items – except for one gipsy caravan which he made for his wife Catherine. People interested in the digger can call Mr Hurley on 01384 825894.

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