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Last Updated: Wednesday December 17 2008 13:02 GMT

Maddy checks out Pin Art!

A model of Jonny Wilkinson

Check out this model of England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson! If you look closely you'll see it's so tiny it's stuck on top of a pinhead.

And the ball is in the eye of a needle! You can't even spot the art unless you put it under a magnifying glass.

Maddy's been to an exhibition in Nottingham in central England to take a much closer look...


"Before I turned up at the gallery I checked out some photos of this art on the internet. I thought it looked really cool and knew I the models would be tiny.

But it's difficult to grasp just how tiny they are until you see them. When I arrived at the exhibition I was completely amazed!

The man who made all this Pin Art, Willard Wigan, was sat at a table surrounded by little white boxes, each containing a single pin or a needle.

He showed me some of them and I looked really closely to try and see the art. But no matter how hard I stared, I couldn't see it!

Newsround's Maddy
Maddy had to use a microscope to spot the Pin Art
Then Willard put a needle under the microscope. In case you've never used one, it's a really strong magnifying class that makes things appear bigger.

Suddenly I could see a model of Father Christmas, painted bright red and carrying a sack of presents! He even had rosy cheeks and a fluffy white beard.

I had so many questions about how it was possible to make something so small and so detailed, and I'm sure you do to. So here's my quick guide to Pin Art!

What is it made of?

The artist Willard Wigan uses fragments of grains of sand, bits of fluff from old jumpers and even coloured dust.

He paints the models using a hair plucked from a dead fly (he makes sure any animals he uses have died naturally).

Willard Wigan
Willard Wigan at work on one of his models

How is it made?

Willard uses a tiny bit of metal to carve the models from the sand or dust. It's all done under a microscope so that it's easier to see what he is working on.

The trick is to be able to keep really still, so you can make only very slight, careful movements with your hands. Willard has taught himself to down his heartbeat by controlling his breathing and using ancient relaxation techniques! That helps him stay really still.

He works on the model between each heartbeat!

How long does it take?

It can take a couple of weeks or even a few months to make each tiny model. Willard often works during the night in a really quiet room, to make sure he doesn't get distracted by things like his TV, mobile, or the sound of traffic.

He needs everything around him to be still and peaceful so he can focus.

Newsround cameraman Darryl
Even Newsround's cameraman Darryl had to use the microscope

Where did the artist get the idea?

Willard didn't do very well at school. He is dyslexic and he says his teachers didn't give him as much help as he would have liked. Some of them made him feel really small.

He decided to make small models to make himself feel big instead! Over the years his work has just got smaller and smaller!

Where can people go and see it?

The exhibition is been touring the UK. It's in Nottingham in central England until the end of January and it costs 2 for kids. In March the collection is moving to London.

Can you buy the models?

Only if you're really, really, really rich! Each one costs around 20,000. That's more money than many adults earn in an entire year!

Maddy