Willard Wigan, born in 1957, is a sculptor from Birmingham, UK , whose sculptures are created in the eye of a needle or placed on the head of a pin. One work can be as small as 0.0002 in and some of his most recent works do not exceed the size of a human blood cell. In July 2007 Willard Wigan was honoured by HRH the Prince of Wales with an MBE for his services to art.
Willard struggled a great dealat school., as he suffered from learning difficulties and dyslexia. He realized that creating art so tiny it could not be seen with the naked eye, would allow him to avoid being critisized. Ever since those early years he has strived to create ever smaller artworks, and his celebrated sculptures have recently become so minuscule that they are only visible through a microscope.
His topic subjects come from all walks of life, the sculptor often refers in his work to other artists and historical events. Amongst his most famous works are a minute reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, carved out of a single grain of sand and a miniature version of the Lloyd’s Building in London. Wigan has recently carved a statue of astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the eye of a needle, in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the lunar landing. Other works include a microscopic Betty Boop.
On average it takes Wigan about eight weeks to complete one sculpture, at the cost of enormous personal sacrifice. Because the works are so tiny and delicate, even the pulse of the artist’s finger could easily destroy them. Wigan has had to learn to control his nervous system, and ensure he does not make even the tiniest movement. When working, he often enters a meditative state in which his heartbeat is slowed, allowing him to reduce any hand tremors and work steadily.
To carve his figures, he uses surgical blades or hand-made tools. Some are custom made out of a sharpened microscopic sliver of tungsten which he makes by attaching a shard of diamond to a pin. The sculptures themselves are made of a wide range of materials, including nylon, grains of sand, dust fibres, gold and spider’s cobweb, depending on the demands of the piece he is working on. To paint his creations, Wigan often uses a hair from a dead housefly, whilst making sure no flies are killed during the artistic process.
“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 where my dyslexia didn’t hold me back and my teachers couldn’t criticize me. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.”
Willard’s micro-sculptures have become so minute that they are only visible through a microscope. Each piece commonly sits within the eye of a needle, or on a pin head. Even the reverberation caused by traffic outside can affect Willard’s work. He often works through the night when there is minimal disruption. You only need to look at the results of his efforts to appreciate what a talented and skilful artist this man is. You may need a magnifying glass to see his work, but every single sculpture only confirms what an awesome talent this man has, and what a genius he is.