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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 16:53 GMT
Father Christmas cut down to size
By James Clarke
BBC News

Willard Wigan's tiny Father Christmas
Willard Wigan slows his "nervous system" to sculpt the tiny figures
The age-old debate about how Santa Claus fits down the chimney would be fairly brief if he were only a third the size of a full stop.

But that is roughly the size of the Father Christmas created by Birmingham artist Willard Wigan.

He sculpted the figure out of carbon fibre, gold and nylon, painting it with an eyelash cut into a sixth of its normal width using shards of diamond.

Mr Wigan, 48, mounts his sculptures in the eye of a needle or on pinheads.

He began creating the tiny sculptures, which are about 0.0002in (0.005mm) tall, when he was a child - making his first when he was about five.

Houses for ants

As he grew up they became good enough to exhibit and sell, and his works can now go for as much as 20,000 and take about two or three months to complete.

He has produced about 180 of the tiny sculptures so far, with others including a football World Cup trophy at the time of the 2002 tournament.

Snow White and the seven dwarves appeared inside the eye of one needle, Elvis Presley was mounted on a pinhead and a boxing ring featuring Muhammad Ali in action was smaller than the head of a match.

Willard Wigan's tiny sculpture of a girl and a Christmas tree
A tiny girl and Christmas tree are among Willard's other festive works

Mr Wigan has learning difficulties and cannot read or write, and says that as a child he used his art to express himself.

He told BBC News: "Being a child I used to start making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live.

"I lived in a fantasy world and I thought they needed shoes and hats."

He has to work during the night so that his delicate work is not disrupted by vibrations from passing traffic and also has to work around his breathing and pulse to avoid any disastrous wobbles.

He said: "The whole process works by slowing your nervous system down, it's like you have to be a dead man working and stop all parts of your body causing any tremors.

"I work all night but I can't do too many because what happens is your mind just slips off into a trance."

Artist Willard Wigan
Willard Wigan has an exhibition of his works on show in Manchester

Mr Wigan has also produced some larger sculptures, including one of Mike Tyson, which the boxer bought, but he prefers the smaller works.

"I realised it's little things that are the biggest things," he said.

"Every human being was once small, it's only man that's made things big.

He added: "I can go smaller but if I get too small you need over 1,000 times magnification to see it, so I'll stick to one third of a full stop."

Mr Wigan has just completed a Harley Davison motorbike on a pinhead, and is now working on David and Goliath on a grain of sand.

'Terrifying' Santa advice dropped
12 Dec 05 |  Education
Festive learning plan for Santas
22 Nov 05 |  Somerset
Looking for art in a needle
25 Oct 01 |  England

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