Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 25, 2013

He sticks to his art

Athens man to enter his work in the East Texas State Fair

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

Athens — When it comes to his art, to say Jimmy Wright is unmatched would be inaccurate. In fact, for just one piece of art in Wright’s collection, there are thousands of matches.

Wright, an Athenian, will soon enter his work in the East Texas State Fair’s crafts and models competition, which begins Sept. 22, a week-long event at the fairgrounds in Tyler.

In Wright’s art, pieces are created entirely from matchsticks and glue to resemble man made items.

For instance, his Tower of London Bridge that is currently displayed at the Dottie Pirkle Bridge Studio, took 350 hours to assemble about 5,000 matchsticks.

Another displayed is a riverboat that took 4,000 pieces, and 400 hours of art labor.

“The reason the fewer pieces than the Tower of London Bridge took longer to assemble is that there are so many tiny pieces that had to be made for the handrails around it.”

Wright is currently working on the Taj Mahal, a 7,500 piece work of art that he expects to take about 500 hours “at least.”

“I’ve done eight different things since I started about two years ago,” he said.

Wright said one of the things that must be done in this type of art is to hide the glue.

“Elmer’s wood glue works just fine to glue the sticks together,” he said. “The key is to complete the model without seeing glue.  You have to cut those little pieces of glue off.  Much better when you cut those little pieces away, so it all  looks magically stuck together.”

Wright is a Lubbock native who attended classes at Texas Tech for two years, and later at a college in Vancover, Canada.  He lived in that city for 10 years, and has lived in numerous other cities, finally making it back to Athens, the city where his sister, Sharon Sanders lives.  His mother, Ann Wright, lives in Chandler.

“I had been without family for about 40 years, and I was ready to come home and be with them,” he said.

Wright has three adult children that live in other states.

He has spent most of his working life, first in the waste water business, and later as a finance manager in the automobile business in Florida. At the age of 65, he is still injured from a car accident he suffered from when he was 17, forcing him to walk with a cane, and spend a lot of time on a motorized wheelchair.

“Over the years, it has been hard to walk,” he said. “I always wanted to build models.  It was just a nice little thing to do.  I saw these matchstick models in a hobby store.  I put one of the smaller ones together, and it was kind of fun.

“It still takes patience to cut the sticks properly,” he said. “They must be glued within 1/100 of an inch, or it won’t fit right.”

Wright also builds model airplanes, ships and boats, cars and trucks. His display of matchstick models will be at the Dottie Pirkle Bridge Studio through July 15.  It is located on East Tyler Street next door to the old Texan Theatre.  The doors will be open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from noon until about 5 p.m.

If that’s not enough, one of Wright’s successful loves is bridge.  In the American Contract Bridge League, Grand National Teams Flight B state championships held in Richardson from May 31 to June 2, he won the contest with his teamates.  The team, also consisting of Charles Ford of Kemp, Shirley Shelton of Longview and Jimmy Hubbard of Wills Point, will be playing in Atlanta, Ga. on July 31 in the national competition against 24 other teams from the U.S. and Canada.

Wright invites people to visit his website: