Renowned micro-sculptor Willard Wigan was left with a headache and a sore throat after he inhaled part of his new masterpiece.
Alice, of Lewis Carroll’s seminal children’s tale ‘Alice In Wonderland’, found herself tumbling down a different sort of rabbit hole as the miniature figure was inhaled by her creator.
Willard had been working on the scene, a representation of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party placed in the eye of a needle, when an intake of breath sent the guest of honour from the table and down his throat.
Willard said: “I have lost months of work through accidents in my workspace. While working on a sculpture of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from Alice In Wonderland, for example, I accidentally inhaled Alice.
“In order to handle my pieces I have to create my own tools. I was holding the sculpture with a pair of tweezers made from my own eyelashes when I gave a sigh and dislodged Alice from the scene.”
Wigan, who is currently displaying a collection of his work in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London, has famously tackled such scenes as the Last Supper, the Statue of Liberty and a representation of Queen Elizabeth II’s Crown, which he presented to the monarch on her Diamond Jubilee.
“Each of my sculptures takes weeks of concentration and graft. The process drives me mad, quite frankly! To destroy a piece in its final moments before completion is a heart-breaking experience.
“I took Alice’s unexpected exit from the party as a sign that maybe my first attempt wasn’t up to scratch so I set about making another. I was far more pleased with the second rendition. Alice was meant to be inhaled, I suppose.”
Microscopic mishaps are an ever-present risk for the Birmingham-based sculptor, who creates the world’s smallest works of art.
At Willard’s scale, even his own heartbeat is a risk to his creations, which lead the artist to develop a meditative technique to reduce his heart rate, sculpting between beats.
He works his sculptures into shape using custom tools which he crafts himself, such as sharpened pins with razor edges for cutting and a set of micro-tweezers made from a pair of his own eyelashes.
He then mounts and displays each piece in the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin. A selection of Willard Wigan’s micro-sculptures are currently featuring at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, London, from 1st July.