Seen through a microscope, artist Willard Wigan's Betty Boop sculpture is so small that it fits inside the eye of a needle.
Wigan's art requires intense concentration to perform such detailed work on an almost unbelievably small scale. Entering a trance-like meditative state, Wigan says he is able to slow his heartbeat, reducing hand tremors and allowing him to sculpt between pulse beats. The tiniest movements, even traffic on the streets outside, can affect the details of his art.
Wigan's work is currently on a gallery tour around the United States, and will be in Chicago in September and Houston in October. You can also see his work at the My Little Eye Gallery in London, and online.
Working in such a tiny environment requires specialty tools and unique materials. Using instruments like brushes consisting only of a single hair from a dead house fly and a single shard of diamond attached to the head of a pin, Wigan paints and sculpts with materials including nylon, grains of sand, dust fibers, cobwebs, and human hair.
Working on such a small scale brings a unique set of problems to Wigan's art. Noise vibrations and dust particles in the air can interfere with the work. Static electricity is a major problem, and occasionally Wigan has accidents--like inhaling the entire sculpture!
Wigan, now 51 years old, has been creating these miniature works since his teens. Depending on the complexity of the design, a typical piece takes about two months to complete.