Willard Wigan, Micro-Sculptor. The World in the Eye of a Needle…

Born 1957 Willard Wigan is a master of the miniature, his studio viewed through the eye pieces of a microscope, his artwork invisible to the naked eye.

Starting at the tender age of five Willard has worked at perfecting the art of the micro-sculpture, artworks that can fit in the eye of a needle. The features and details of his art works now measure in the thousands of millimeters.

Laboring for hours on end, hovering over his microscope, making barely perceptible movements with his hands he is the master of the miniature.

Willard the Microscopic Wizard is able to sculpt miniature masterpieces with incredible detail. Sculptures so small that a microscope is required to see them in all of their detailed glory.

Born in Birmingham England Willard struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia as a young boy. He learned early on how cruel people can be, with fellow students and teachers ridiculing his difficulties learning to read and write. Escaping from the cruel taunts Willard built a fantasy world around himself, at the age of five he started to replicate this world in miniature.

Starting his mastery of the miniature as a child, with houses and shoes for his ant armies, working within an infinitesimally small world seemed to come naturally to Willard.

“It began when I was five years old,” says Willard. “I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live. Then I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.”

Now his is a famous artist, his more famous pieces include Buzz Aldrin in the eye of a needle, Betty Boop and the incredible tiny Alice In Wonderland that sees the entire scene of the mad hatters tea party within the eye of a needle. His nano sculpture the Elephant carved from a grain of sand recently sold for $300,000 and in 2009 he sold his entire personal collection for $20 million.

At the height of his career in 2007 he was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. As his fame and popularity spread the number of celebrity collectors grew, now HRH Prince Charles, Mike Tyson and Simon Cowell all have a tiny piece of Willard’s work in their homes.

For Willard the canvas of his works is also responsible for portraying a sense of scale, hence many of his works appear in the eye of a needle, an amazingly universal measurement of scale.

The subjects of his sculptures often draw heavily on fantasy worlds, though his portfolio shows a varied range, from the classically inspired Michelangelo’s David to Alice in Wonderland in the eye of a needle.

Sculptures typically take 8 weeks to complete, according to Willard the process of creation is painstakingly grueling, an exercise in frustration. For him the positives come from completing the projects, pushing the limits of the impossible, and the amazement of public who look on in wonder.

Working at seemingly impossible scales Willard has had to develop a special set of tools and techniques that allow him to operate in the realm of the impossibly small. Not only can a single breath destroy weeks of work, but static electricity can move objects without his control, even a single twitch is disaster.

Using hand made tools of his own design and construction, tools especially designed to work on sub millimeter scale Willard spends hours creating another miniature masterpiece. Surgical blades are sharpened and shaped, hand made diamond and tungsten chisels grind away excess material. Using the hair from a housefly as a paintbrush Willard painstakingly colors and paints his the micro masterpieces, once construction is completed.

Inhale at the wrong time let alone sneeze or cough and weeks worth of work can be destroyed in an instant. Meditating for hours prior to starting work, usually starting after midnight Willard reduces his heart rate and blood pressure in order work on his sculptures for up to 8 hours at a time. Working between heart beats helps to ensure a superhuman steady hand.

Willard is not a sculptor of steel or stone, his raw materials start small, then he chops them in half. A grain of sand is whittled away or spiders web is trimmed and stretched. Nylon, gold and dust fibers all put to use in Willard’s workshop under the microscope.

Appearing on the Conan O’Brien show in 2009 Willard described using the tremor caused by his heartbeat to jack hammer a grain of sand.

An exceptional artist with superhuman abilities, Willard has indeed proven that super-humans can come from unexpected places, saluting that something special in each of us.

Reference: Willard Wigan
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