Nikon Metrology

Micro sculptures within the eye of a needle

Microscopes, Nikon Metrology

Displayed below is a dragon you do not see every day. Willard Wigan MBE from Birmingham, UK, created this hand-sculpted dragon that is small enough to fit inside the eye of a needle. These remarkable micro-sculptures are typically far less than 1 millimetre in size.  To closely watch his micro-scale movements, the artist uses a stereo microscope, a Nikon SMZ745T. Willard’s sculpted figures represent well-known people who are completely recognizable and buildings that are true replicas – treasures that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Willard Wigan, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) began sculpting at the age of five, and has since been on a quest to make ever more minute artworks, now only visible through a microscope. The artist made a name for himself by sculpting tiny recreations of everything from Barack Obama and his family to Neil Armstrong on the moon’s surface. On average it takes Willard at least eight weeks to complete a sculpture in a process that is extremely physically challenging.

Because the works are so small (they can have deliberate features as minute as 0.005 mm / 0.0002 in), the sculptor has learned to control his nervous system, heart rate and breathing to ensure he does not make even the tiniest movement. Using the Nikon SMZ745T microscope, Willard enters a meditative state in which his heartbeat is slowed, allowing him to reduce any hand tremors and work between these slowed down heartbeats.

DragonDragon – The National symbol of Wales

To carve his figures, Willard uses surgical blades and microscopic hand-made tools. The sculptures themselves are made of a wide range of materials such as nylon, grains of sand, dust fibers, gold and spider’s cobwebs. To paint his creations, Willard has used hairs from dead houseflies, although he does not kill for his artistic processes.
As an example, the pupil of the Dragon’s eye is near 8 microns, the size of a single blood cell.

In the ongoing partnership, Nikon supported Willard Wigan with a SMZ 745T stereo microscope that provides critical visual feedback as Willard crafts his tiny masterpieces. The microscope’s enhanced working distance offers sufficient space to manipulate the artworks. The bright, high-contrast imaging with magnification up to 300x helps the artist create his widely renowned microscopic pieces of art.


Interesting links:

More examples available when searching google for Willard Wigan
Willard wigan receiving his MBE