Worlds Smallest Sculpture by Willard Wigan

I saw this guy on the news yesterday, working on sculpture that fits inside the eye of a needle. The English artist Willard Wigan works in-between heartbeats so that he doesn’t destroy the piece he is creating. He uses rice or grains of sand and a surgical blade to create his “micro sculpture”.

Artists are usually trying to get attention by going MASSIVE, so it’s good to see some small art getting attention too, even if it is ridiculously small art. They’re so small that he uses the hair from flies as a paint brush to decorate them!

micro sculptor willard wigan

There has been smaller sculptures created, but they were made with lasers. In 2001 Japanese scientists made a tiny sculpture of a bull that measured 10 micrometers by seven (a micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter). Wigan’s works is created by hand though.

Here’s some quotes from the micro sculptor..

Though my sculptures are quite small, it’s important for people to realize that I am life-size. Of course, at times, when I’m working on a piece, I might come to believe that I myself am microscopic. That’s how involved in my work I become. My tiny world becomes everything to me.
Willard Wigan

Let me tell you, it’s very difficult. Every movement I make is so small. I have to control my breathing and heartbeat – it’s not easy! I usually work at night and have to make sure the dog isn’t around.
Willard Wigan

Be original! Be creative! Be individual and make your mark
Willard Wigan

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. I would like to know the reason why he makes them so small. Why the statue of liberty? is there a socialcritisism involved or is it just to take something monumental and shrink it? It feels more disney then art.

  2. Didn’t Chinese artists way back when also do images the size of a grain of rice? I vaguely remember reading about it years ago.

    It makes my mind boggle how they do it. As for the reason or why. Hum maybe because its a challenge, because it takes great skill, because they can!

  3. Ok did I read correctly? “Willard Wigan works in-between heartbeats so that he doesn’t destroy the piece” (Insert shocking face here).

    WOW now that is serious! Amazing is an understatement!

    Jafabrit, there are still quite a few people who paint on rice grains. I think the practice has spread very far as there are a few artist here in Bermuda that also sell rice grain paintings. Quite interesting aren’t they!

  4. Vanessa, I don’t like to be conscious of my breathing or my heartbeat, then I start to getting in a tizzy lol!
    I thought there must be more people doing this. I think I will stick to sizeable pieces that doesn’t require awareness of bodily functions or surrounds ;)

  5. I think that this is sooo inspirational! Art means sooo much, add the size and work that it takes to it..and you’ve got a masterpiece! WOW! Wonderful wonderful work!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  6. I certainly appreciate the skill and concentration that would be involved in such a creation but it would have been good to see an original sculpture

  7. Hi, Dion
    This post has been bugging me since I saw it. I’m sure one of us or both published a blog on a modern Chinese artist doing the same kind of work, but I can’t remember his name. (Ying Yang Pong or some such.) Any ideas?

  8. Umm.. I can’t think of it Ian. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me that published anything about the Chinese artist.. but I have been wrong before.

    Jafabrit mentioned (above) Chinese artists doing the same thing with rice too..

  9. I finally tracked down that Chinese micro-artist. I published a blog on him in March 2006:
    His name is Jin Yin Hua (I was close!) and he got in the news by painting a giant panda on a human hair. If you click the title link on my blog, it takes you to the BBC News story with a piccie of the panda. It also mentions Willard Wigan and his Statue of Liberty in the eye of a needle.

  10. Dear friends!
    I am collector of micro (1-10 mm) and miniature books (10-100 mm).
    I know about 200 (!) micro books made by micro miniaturist from different countries. And I know else 13 masters of micro-sculpture, as Willard Wigan, who can make micro and ULTRA-micro sculptures!! They are from Poland, Ukraine, Armenia, Russia, China, and Taiwan!!!
    There are some museums of micro-miniature: in Ukraine, Russia, France, Taiwan!!!

  11. Come and see the famous micro-sculpture at the Eyestorm Gallery in London, England from 6th September until 5th October 2007.

  12. I heard you talk on ABC National radio on Thursday night, sitting in my Cab waiting for a fare. Your story has inspired me to no end. Once I was told about your Web Site and jot it down after my shift I went straight home to have a look. It is absolutely incredible a beautiful gift you have been given. I am wondering when you might be coming to Australia to show it as my boy would be as fascinated as I. Mind boggling. It has made me think. I had to also get a needle from my wifes sewing box to appreciate the photos on various sites. Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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  3. […] There’s also an interview with Don Eigler over at the American Scientist website, where he explains the process of making an image “We used a scanning tunneling microscope, in which a metal needle under computer control is made to move along the contours of the surface being imaged. The height of the needle at each location on a square grid of points is recorded as a number in the computer. This sequence of numbers representing the height of the surface at each point on the grid is then rendered by the computer to look like a three-dimensional solid.” >> Art Exhibitions, Willard Wigan Sculpture Post […]

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