Last year around this time, I wrote about how I’d thrown out my ratty matchbooks in lieu of a mason jar and sandpaper rig. I do love the mason jar set up as it is such a simple fix to an annoying problem, but over the last year I did notice that I was experiencing a couple problems. The first was that every time I needed to grab a match, I had to unscrew the jar top. I had to be a bit careful about this because of all the layers of sandpaper I’d nestled in the top. If I opened everything too quickly or turned the lid the wrong way, I’d be spending a few seconds cleaning up rounds of sandpaper. The other issue I noticed was that I would have to frequently use 2-3 matches to get one to light. Granted, this may be because I used a very fine grit of sandpaper and could have changed out to a larger grit pretty easily, but cutting out sandpaper rounds gives me a similar reaction as some people have to “nails on a chalkboard,” and I procrastinated horribly on that task.
Well, during a shopping trip at an artist’s co-op the other day, I discovered an iteration on this theme that I think is brilliant. Hoosier bead and jewelry artist Carol Watson has taken small glass bottles and Dremel-engraved a rough crosshatch pattern on the bottom. All you do is tip a match out of the bottle, strike it on the bottom, and go about your business. I’ve yet to have a match fail on this crosshatch, which is engraved pretty deeply–it’s no light frosting! The engraved lines are just deep and wide enough enough for the match to catch and light, but spaced enough to clean any residue easily with just a damp cloth. Carol also dresses her bottles up with a bit of raffia and one of her own lampwork bead creations.
Carol’s bottles are about $20 each, but provided one has a Dremel tool and an appropriate bit (this one should do fine with a standard Dremel and eliminate the need for engraving bits) as well as appropriately-sized bottles and patience, this could be a ridiculously simple, cheap, and effective gift option for coven mates and friends. Perhaps an appropriate one for Candlemas?
NOTE: These containers only work with “Strike Anywhere” Matches.
UPDATE: I decided to try my hand at this, and used the Dremel bit linked above on the bottom of a mason jar. It worked beautifully. I popped a pretty cap on the jar and considered my job done. Later on, though, an opportunity arose where I wanted to give a lot of candle-related gifts and thought a match bottle would be a great addition. The bottle is way cuter than my mason jar, so I did some research. It turns out that the bottles Carol uses are 100ml serum vials. They are usually ridiculously expensive to buy as they’re almost always sterile. You can sometimes get empty used ones for free from hospitals and veterinarians, though I’m not sure they’re supposed to do that. Ultimately, I did find a supplier that sold unsterile clean bottles for about $1.90 each. After I etched them, I washed them well with soap and water. I used distilled water for a final rinse and baked them in the oven for a few minutes to get the insides to dry out. With that narrow neck, they can air dry for weeks and still have moisture inside.