It takes alot to wow me these days. When my husband and I stumbled on the work of Willard Wigan, I was completely doubtful that this self-taught artist could create work that fits in the eye of a needle. But after further investigation, that’s exactly what this artist does, create the tiniest sculptures in the world that are sometimes as small as the period that you see on this page – cut in half. Not even visible to the naked eye. So I knew I had to share it with you all.
If you are a skeptic like I was, you might be interested in watching his TED talk, in which he goes into his homemade tools (like a hair off a fly for a paintbrush), and methods (like slowing down his breathing so he can work in between heartbeats).
While his work is incredible, his story is equally as impacting. He struggled in school with dyslexia and is still barely able to read and write. His teachers made him feel worthless and a failure. In fact, one of his teachers told him that the word “failure” was invented just for him. At age 5, he started creating tiny apartments and furniture for ants, as a way of escape from his troubles. His mother encouraged him in his God given ability, and when he was very little told him, “The smaller your work, the bigger your name will become.” He didn’t fully understand this as a boy, but certainly gets it now that he’s grown, where recently his life’s work recently sold for 20 million dollars.
Little things can be the biggest things. The teachers at my school made me feel small. Like nothing. I’m trying to prove that nothing doesn’t exist. – Willard Wigan
Wigan explained that, while working on a grain of sand, he would sometimes use the tremor caused by his own heartbeat as a jack hammer to chisel the tiny particle. When asked if he enjoys his work, he answers, “I enjoy it when I finish it. Not working on it, no. It’s misery. It’s painstaking.” Fashioned from gold, specs of dust, precious gems, droplets of glue and paint along with numerous other materials including eyelashes and spiders webbing, each artwork is living proof of the power of belief.
I work between my heartbeat. I have one-and-a-half seconds to actually move. And at the same time I have to watch I don’t inhale my own work.
The personal sacrifices involved in creating such wondrous, yet scarcely believable pieces are inconceivable to most. He’s not married, and he’s not into the glitzy life. What motivates him I guess is his own internal drive to prove his critics wrong, and to use the gift he says God gave him.
People haven’t seen the best of me yet. I’m going to take it even smaller.