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Willard Wigan's Amazing Micro Sculpture

Updated on April 3, 2015

The Littlest Things can be the Biggest Things

Several years ago, I remember a friend telling me about an interview she had had at her younger son's school. The teacher told her that her son would never amount to much. The boy in question was 6 years old, and was finding reading a little more difficult than others in his class. My friend was in despair, her son was demotivated and depressed. How often have you heard stories like this? Too often, I would guess!

This page is about such a child, who struggled to cope with dyslexia, and was made to feel like nothing, but who grew into a talented and inspirational man. His skill and his art works are truly amazing, so much so that people can barely believe what they see.

That man is Willard Wigan, a self-taught micro-sculptor, whose mother saw his budding talent and encouraged it to grow. She told him "you can't read, you can't write well, but the smaller your work, the bigger your name will come".

This photo shows Willlard Wigan's sculpture of the Earth, which is set inside the eye of a needle. All photographs on this page are copyright, and used with the knowledge and permission of Willard Wigan Limited.

Making Houses for Ants

At the age of 5, Willard began making houses for ants. He thought they needed homes, and decided to help out. Later, as his fantasy micro world developed, he began making them hats and shoes.

This was a place he could escape to, away from the criticism and ridicule he suffered at school. He had been made to feel like he was nothing, but this was something that he could do, and do very well. His miniature artworks were so small they couldn't be seen without a magnifier, and so he surmised they couldn't be criticised!

He wasn't "nothing" - he set out to prove to the world that nothing did not exist.

Interview on the Conan Show, November 2012

A fun interview on the Conan show, featuring several impressive sculptures by Willard Wigan

The Eighth Wonder of the World

Over the years Willard has challenged himself, using different materials, to make smaller and smaller micro-sculptures. His works are now so tiny that they can only be viewed with a microscope.

He usually presents his pieces sitting on the head of a pin or within the eye of a needle. He has trained himself to meditate and slow his own heartbeat. To avoid even the slightest hand tremor, he has to work between the contractions of his heart. One of the hazards he has to avid is inhaling his own work!

He works in the quiet of the night to minimise disruption and the vibrations caused by traffic. Working in this way is a great strain, but he still strives to improve: Willard says "As small as what you've seen, it's not the best of me yet"

Art in Miniature

The anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss once said "all miniatures seem to have an intrinsic aesthetic quality." I can't help but agree!

The Art of Small Things
The Art of Small Things

A celebration of the art of the miniature, packed with beautiful color photos. John Mack explores the concepts and properties of the miniature - Aztec jade figures, Mughal miniature paintings, ancient Egyptian amulets, English prints, maps, models, mosaics, and much more.


Materials, Tools and Methods

Working at such a tiny scale, Willard Wigan has had to develop his own techniques, tools and materials. He has carved masterpieces from grains of sand, rice and sugar, using tiny surgical blades and shards of diamond. He has used carbon fibre, nylon, spider's web and gold, and even painted with his own eyelashes.

To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.

— William Blake

Motivational Speaking

and TV Interviews

Willard Wigan's life story does attract attention; he is a formidable talent. He has been interviewed on several TV shows, and now undertakes speaking engagements for various organisations, including large corporations and charities.

Technology, Entertainment, Design institute - TED

Willard Wigan was invited as guest speaker at the Technology, Entertainment, Design Institute in July 2009. He talked about how he was used as an example of failure by teachers at his school, and how this led him into the world of micro sculpture. His self-developed methods are of interest to nano-technology organisations and micro-surgeons, around the world.

To see Willard Wigan's presentation to TED, click here.

The talk is very interesting and amusing, and includes several of his impressive creations.

Diverse Interests and Collections

Willard Wigan’s sculptures can be as small as 0.0002 inches (0.005 mm) in height. His sculptures include the Moon Landing, the Olympic Torch, the Statue of Liberty, Elvis, Snow White, Bart Simpson and The Last Supper. Each piece takes a considerable amount of work – up to 18 hours a day for several weeks.

Exhibitions and Collectors

These incredible micro-sculptures have been exhibited around the world and attract fans of all ages. Collectors of these rare pieces include Mike Tyson, Simon Cowell, Lord Bath, Prince Charles, and even the Queen.

David Lloyd, a former tennis star, bought much of Willard Wigan’s collection in July 2007, and has since insured the pieces for over £11 million!

HRH Queen Elizabeth II requested a very special piece – the Coronation Crown - in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee. In fact, Willard Wigan was honoured with the award of an MBE for his services to art. This was presented by HRH. Prince Charles in July 2007.

At the Palace, receiving the MBE

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Support for Charities

Willard is a supporter of charities working with children in difficult circumstances. He was commissioned to make a replica of Siegfried & Roy to mark the launch of the MagiCares charity which works to alleviate the suffering of people and animals around the world.

Willard Wigan was also asked by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Charity Fund to make a sculpture. The iconic stateman was presented with a tiny version of himself during his birthday celebrations in 2009. The charity was established in 1994, at which point Mandela made a five year commitment of one third of his Presidential salary as his charitable legacy to protect and enrich the lives of children.

Tiny Tools

If you are inspired to try your own (steady) hand at micro sculpture, you'll need to develop your skills. Here's some cool kit that will help you begin

HTS 101H0 6Pc 5.5" / 140mm Needle File Sets
HTS 101H0 6Pc 5.5" / 140mm Needle File Sets

Set of 6 assorted needle files with rubber handles. Can be used for filing wood, plastic, silver, gold, and other hard to file materials. Approximately 5 1/2" inches long.


Can you share an inspiring story?

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    • savateuse profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thanks for visiting - I have to say I'm impressed by his sculptures and his story!

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Awesome page. I have never even heard of this man, Willard Wigan, but those micro-sculptures are amazing.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      He has to be careful not to inhale his work!!!

    • DeeDeeGee LM profile image

      DeeDeeGee LM 

      5 years ago

      This is amazing! Although I am from across the pond too I had never heard of Willard Wigan. What patience he has. And the results are fantastic.

      I agree that teachers should not label kids especially young ones as this must stifle them in so many ways. How many parents might give up on their kids because of this. So hats off to his mom for her encouragement. She must be so proud of him.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow,wonderful mindblowing and inspiring,thanks for sharing!!

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a pretty inspiring story I was glad to read.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow, this is very cool, I can't believe how tiny the sculptures are, it's amazing!

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas

      I have seen well heard of his work and it's mind blowing.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Amazing talent. I think my favorite is the hummingbird!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for making me aware of this talented man and his art and inspirational story.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      What a great story and beautiful work.

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 

      5 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      Wow, for me, anything that fits in the eye of a needle is a miracle. It's the first time I hear about Willard Wigan.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Don't have a story, but I did like this one! Well done.

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      Wow! He is inspiring.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 

      5 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Amazing. I have never heard of Mr Wigan and his micro art. Pretty incredible!

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image


      5 years ago

      Wonderfully inspiring! I'd seen his amazing sculptures before but didn't know much about the man himself, until now! Everyone has their own unique gifts and talents, you don't have to be academic to be a success in life and Willard proves this :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Wow, this is my first time to hear of Willard Wigan's sculptures. These are amazing. I sure enjoyed watching the Interview on the Conan Show. Thanks.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Amazing - so glad you chose to shine a spotlight on him :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love stories like this. When will teachers stop labeling students and help them find their gifts? Thank you for letting us know about this amazing artist.

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Willard is truly amazing. I've heard about him before but learned so much more about him through your lens. Teachers should be forbidden to tell anyone they are not going to do well.

      I really enjoyed your lens.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This story shows that each human being is a uniquely talented individual. It doesn't matter if they are not like others around them, but their own talent is what counts. It's a lovely story about someone who triumphed over odds that were against him and came out on top! Thanks for sharing!

    • adragast24 profile image


      5 years ago

      This guy is incredible and yes this is an inspiring story. I hate it when teachers think they can decide who will do great and who won't, especially when they limit their judgment on the results only without taking into account how hard a pupil/student works.

    • oddobjective profile image


      5 years ago

      How inspiring and how wonderful to see that not only did he succeed but he found a unique way to express himself. Great story!


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