This installation was made possible in part by a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and in part thanks to funding from the

 Rochester Art Center.


(Visit the RAC’s page on the Burnt Matchstick exhibition here.)



Karl Unnasch -- Public Art, Stained Glass and Sculpture

RCTC Installations








Special thanks go out to:


· Minnesota State Arts Board

· Rochester Art Center

· Sam Spiczka, Mandy Spiczka, Zoe Spiczka

· Paul Spiczka

· Roberto Visani

· ALL PRO Powder Coating

· Knutson Construction

· Kris Douglas

· Phil Ahnen

· Cat Thisius and CATS Photography

· Mary Bruno and Bruno Press

· Richard Unnasch

· Andy Heimdahl and the Pilot Mound Flipping Crew

· Steve and Deb Erickson

· Michael Cimino

· Eric Walton

· Nicole Huss


“Karl Unnasch is a

mid-west whisperer and national treasure.”


Chris Pennington,

Twin Cities Public Arts Facilitator



Q:  Burnt Matchstick looks like it’s made of stained glass — but you call it “opalescent” glass.  Can you explain?


A:  For colored glass types such as “opalescent” or “cathedral” glass, the pigment is added during its initial manufacture. Finished pieces of colored glass are then used in the making of “stained” glass, which is when grisaille or “paint” is applied by an artisan to the surface of individual pieces prior to firing them in a kiln to permanently fuse the paint onto the material.


Although Karl Unnasch also does a great deal of actual stained glass work, Burnt Matchstick is made of “opalescent glass” that cannot technically be called “stained”, because no designs or patterns have been painted upon its surface. 


Burnt Matchstick consists of about 90% Kokomo Opalescent Glass from Kokomo, Indiana — one of the oldest and largest, most reputable opalescent glass producers in the country if not the world. 



Q:  So if that’s really glass, isn’t it terribly fragile?


A:  Not at all!


People tend to think that glass is fragile, but look at how it outlasts plastics, fiberglass, and lesser materials. Why would stained glass be a lasting standard for architectural windows if it were not resilient to the elements?

It doesn’t cloud up. It doesn’t fade. It is less damaging to the environment in its manufacture than similar materials. It actually flexes with changing pressures. Even acid rain does substantially less damage to glass than to stone, brick or concrete.


To be doubly sure that Burnt Matchstick could safely exist in the Midwest’s daunting weather, a protective clear acrylic layer was additionally installed on the entire piece.



Q:  What will happen to Burnt Matchstick when its exhibition outside the Rochester Art Center draws to a close?


A:  Burnt Matchstick’s ultimate fate is still up in the air.


If you are interested in either purchasing Burnt Matchstick or exhibiting it at your institution, please contact Karl directly.

Click here to link to the

Burnt Matchstick brochure.


You can download this PDF file to print out a condensed version of information about Burnt Matchstick.

PDF Brochure:

A Groundbreaking Sculpture of Fabricated Steel and Backlit Opalescent Glass

created by Sculptor and Stained Glass Artist Karl Unnasch

and brought to you by the Minnesota State Arts Board

and the Rochester Art Center


Installed Spring 2015





Burnt Matchstick is a creation by Artist Karl Unnasch, whose work has evolved into three-dimensional stained glass and art glass sculptural installations of various forms. 


This installation was made possible in part by a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and in part by funding from the Rochester Art Center. It is a colorful incorporation — albeit temporary — into a city with few established large public works.









This artwork captures a fleeting moment in time:  the split-second after which a burning wooden matchstick has been extinguished by a gust of air.


The vast play on scale for so trivial an object incites reflection: the transformative power of an impactful event; the fragility and ephemerality of life and things; the role of fire in preserving and eradicating; the anthropomorphic metaphor inherent in our every human perception. .


Since Spring of 2015, visitors to the Rochester Art Center in Rochester, Minnesota have been greeted by a 40-foot-tall, steel-framed opalescent glass sculpture created by Public Artist Karl Unnasch.


Impactful and monumental by day, this revolutionary outdoor piece turns into a glowing beacon of rich color by night.










“It is enthralling to relaunch our sculpture garden with such an awe-inspiring piece ...”


Shannon Fitzgerald,

Executive Director

of the Rochester Art Center




Following its inaugural stint at RAC, Burnt Matchstick will become available for permanent acquisition or for interim exhibition at other venues.


Parties interested in either hosting or acquiring Burnt Matchstick may contact the Artist directly.








Articles & Press:


Local artist lights a match outside Rochester Art Center, Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy, Bluff Country Reader, Oct. 15, 2015





Burnt Matchstick

photos by Cat Thisius

“... it will inspire generations to come!”


Kokomo Opalescent Glass


Karl Unnasch Public Art, Stained Glass and Sculpture


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Burnt Matchstick

Burnt Matchstick