Amazing Microscopic Masterpieces

By Taylor Rice

This sculptor’s hands are steadier than a surgeon’s. Willard Wigan, a sculptor from Burmingham, England, is famous for his recreations of famous artworks such as the Mona Lisa, and depictions of famous people such as William Shakespeare. The only catch is: they can’t be seen by the naked eye. 

The new art show, “Miniature Masterpieces”, containing Wigan’s pieces is currently being displayed at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, England. The free exhibition contains 20 tiny sculptures displayed in the eyes of needles. 

The pieces can’t be seen by the naked eye, averaging in size at about 0.0002 inches (or 0.005 mm) tall. In order to view his marvelous works guests have to look through a microscope that zooms in at least 400 times. That’s close enough to see a split hair. 

To make his microscopic art, Wigan first needs tiny tools. His tools consist of sharpened acupuncture needles and slivers of diamond broken into microscopic shards, along with an eyelash in order to paint the works afterwards. The sculpture’s materials usually consist of glass or fabrics molded into shapes; along with a microscope in order to properly see the medium. The ropes and strings seen in his works are made from spider webs.  

Before working on his art pieces, Wigan partakes in breathing exercises. He only works in between heartbeats. A single heartbeat can make the fingers move, and a single mistake could take a while to correct or completely ruin the work. 

Wigan calls the process “painstaking”, saying he needs to watch his diet, drink a lot of water, and keep his body in good condition because “you have to train your dexterity. You’re training your mind, body and your soul to keep still.”

“I don’t actually enjoy making them. I just enjoy when I finish them because they stress me out,” Wigan tells CNN. “But once they’re made, the glory is when other people see it. When you see people with disbelief on their face, not being able to kind of explain what they’re seeing, that gives me so much pleasure.” 

Wigan has both autism and dyslexia. He’s been both “underestimated” and “looked down upon” by people around him. Wigan’s tiny sculptures became a refuge. His mother encouraged him before her death, stating, “The smaller you make things, the bigger your name will become.”

Wigan is capable of working on 4 to 5 works at a time, working 16 hours a day for up to 5 weeks. According to the Guinness World Records, Wigan holds the record for the smallest hand-made sculpture ever made: a human embryo made from a fiber of Wigan’s carpet. The piece fit inside a hollowed out strand of the artist’s hair. Wigan has also personally gifted a tiny recreation of the British Crown to Elizabeth ll. 

We look forward to Wigan creating more of his fantastic works. 

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