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    Flaming passion

    KOCHI: To get in touch with his creative side and make something interesting was Anil Sundar's aim when he took to making matchstick models eight years ago. And that lark has led to him making several attractive portraits and framed art pieces out of something as common as matchsticks.Anil is no professional artist nor has be learnt the craft from a teacher, but his works demonstrate the hours of hard work he's put into it. We see his collection, comprising bullock carts, guitars, houses, table stands all made from matchsticks. Anil's inspiration for this unique hobby came from watching a film. “Couple of years ago in an English film I saw a boy creating something out of various household stuff. Seeing it I too thought of coming up with something,” says Anil who is the Kerala collection head of Reliance Communications. After that the next thought was what to make and how? “First I thought of making something artistic using ice cream sticks but then I felt it would be quite easy and not very challenging. That's when I hit upon the idea of doing something with matchsticks.” Matchsticks are very delicate objects and often break easily.“I have wasted so many matchsticks in the process of learning,” says Anil. Many a times his hands too have got bruised while using the surgical knife to chip the matchsticks. But his passion has been such, that Anil stays awake late at nights working away. To complete a piece takes him 16-19 hours, as the process starts from him having to remove the gunpowder from the matchsticks and then cut and shape them. “After that, piece by piece the sticks are glued together. Each glued piece is then again glued to another piece.” A majority of models that Anil has made so far, he has gifted to his friends and colleagues. As we step into his office in Kochi, you see the entire place adorned with artifacts made by him. His friends eagerly await their own birthdays, as they know a special gift awaits them“I am making a book out of matchsticks for my colleague whose birthday is this month,” he saysHis most ambitious creation that he put together recently is the portrait of an Egyptian Princess Lamarr Kramer which he has put on sale at $410 (Indian ` 20040.8). He says the money he gets out of it will go towards charity. His enthusiasm to perfect his art is such, that Anil is on the constant look out for different matchsticks of various colours and make. “To complete the hair of the Egyptian princess, I was in search of matchsticks with red gunpowder,” Four days of hunting ended at a small shop in Kalamassery. “I got the perfect ones, " he says. He even goes to factories to collect matchsticks without gunpowder. “There was a factory in Kollam but now it has closed down.” Yet, for him, scraping out the gunpowder and then starting his work is what satisfies him most. “It requires lot more patience and hard work.” Anil has a regular corporate job, so the obvious question is, how does he manage to pursue his hobby so passionately? “Daily after office I spend atleast four hours for this as it's my favourite pass time,” he saysWhile here in Kochi, Anil works away in his bachelor pad, he has a proper work station for his matchstick art at his native place in Thiruvanathapuram. Right now, he is busy creating 25 exclusive pieces, for an exhibition that he is planning to hold in the city soon.aswathy.k@newindianexpress.com