Fact Check

Willard Wigen - Microscopic Art

Willard Wigan's amazing micro-sculptures, on the head of a pin, a grain of sand, and in the eye of a needle.

Published Sep 14, 2006

Claim:   Photographs show amazing micro-sculptures created by Willard Wigan.

Status:   True.

Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

Look at this feat of engineering genius!!


Willard Wigen - Microscopic Art
Willard is a resident of Birmingham, England. The show is in Manchester. He has a learning disability (Dyslexia), but has talented hands. He makes the sculptures out of dust particles, sugar crystals, etc. Works only around midnight, and can only do some of the work between heartbeats.

The Statue of Liberty in the eye of a needle
Elvis on a pin head
Boxing ring next to a match head
Girl with balloon is standing on an eyelash glued to the top of a needle.
Snow White & The 7 Dwarfs in the eye of a needle
(Note the wicked witch on top)
Visitors view exhibits through a microscope
The Thinker on the head of a pin
Peter Pan & Tinkerbell etc. on a small fishhook
The royal court in the eye of a needle

Origins:   Willard Wigan is a "micro-miniaturist," an artist known for creating some of the world's smallest sculptures. As he and his work are described on his web site:

Willard Wigan was born in Birmingham, England in 1957 and is the creator of the smallest works of art on earth. From being a traumatised and unrecognised dyslexic child, he is now emerging as the most globally celebrated micro-miniaturist of all time and is literally capable of turning a spec of dust into a vision of true beauty.

Willard can create a masterpiece within the eye of a tiny sewing needle, on the head of a pin, the tip of an eyelash or a grain of sand. Some are many times smaller than the fullstop at the end of this sentence.

Many are even smaller still, with some being completely invisible to the naked eye yet, when viewed through high power magnification, the effect

on the viewer is truly mesmerising. Willard, who is completely self-taught has baffled medical science and been the subject of discussions among micro-surgeons, nano-technologists and at universities worldwide. His work is ground-breaking — partly because of the astounding beauty of vision which challenges the belief system of the mind and partly because it demonstrates that if one person can create the impossible, we all have the potential to transcend our own limiting beliefs about what we are capable of.

He works in total solitude at a quiet retreat in Jersey mainly at night when there is a greater sense of peace in the world and less static electricity to interfere with the immeasurable precision and tolerances required to create the pieces.

The smallest sculptures can only be measured in thousandths of an inch which is why they can sit, very delicately, on a human hair three thousandths of an inch thick. When working on this scale he slows his heartbeat and his breathing dramatically through meditation and attempts to harmonise his mind, body and soul with the Creator. He then sculpts or paints at the centrepoint between heartbeats for total stillness of hand. He likens this process to "trying to pass a pin through a bubble without bursting it." His concentration is intense when working like this and he feels mentally and physically drained at the end of it.

Willard Wigan works with materials such as toothpicks, sugar crystals, and grains of rice and sand, spending months meticulously carving his materials into micro-figures like the ones displayed above.

The video clip linked below, from the 1993 film An Eye on X, shows Willard discussing his art as he begins work on a sculpture of Malcolm X.

Additional information:

  Small Is Beautiful   An Eye on X
  Small Is Beautiful   Small Is Beautiful   (BBC)

Last updated:   20 February 2008

  Sources Sources:

    Jacob, Jonathan.   "Small Is Beautiful."

    bbc.co.uk.   20 June 2003.

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