Highest Black Achiever Dr. Willard Wigan: The Master of Micro Miniature Art

The world of micro miniatures – intricate, tiny handmade works of art which cannot be seen with the natural eye – was revolutionized by the British artist Willard Wigan- who stands out in his own right, even among the Highest Black Achievers. Over his decades-long career, Wigan elevated micro art from a novelty to a serious art form requiring immense patience, steadiness, and technical innovation. Through his over 200 microscopic masterpieces, Wigan proved the potential of micro art and paved the way for future generations of miniature artists.

Early Interest in Miniatures

Born in June 1957 in Wednesfield, England, Willard Wigan discovered his passion for tiny art early on in life. At age 5 he started making houses for ants out of concern that they had nowhere to live. He then moved on to making shoes and hats for said species. Being dyslexic allowed him to move through spheres that would seem abnormal to more “balanced” human beings. His concentration precision and attention for detail foreshadowed the miniature master he would become.

This Outstanding Black man continued honing his miniature-making skills by crafting miniature sculptures of everyday objects such as thimbles, scissors, mice, and various other intricate creations. His sculptures are so small that they are often displayed within the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin. Working as a metallurgist allowed Wigan access to the micro tools and advanced optics he needed to craft miniscule sculptures.

In the early 1960s, Wigan pushed his artwork even further by transitioning to micro miniatures – sculptures ranging from a speck of dust to a breadth that could be displayed a pinheads. Most pieces measured between 0.5 to 1.0mm. He was one of the first artists to apply fine jewelry techniques to micro art. Wigan proved micro art wasn’t just a scientific curiosity – it was a medium for creative expression.

Revolutionary Works

Wigan’s first major micro miniature sculpture was a 0.05 inch brass padlock he crafted in 1960. The entire lock was smaller than a grain of rice but included working keys, intricate internal mechanisms, and engraving. This sculpture demonstrated the potential for both realism and artistry in micro art.

Over his career, Wigan would create over 200 micro miniatures depicting everyday objects. He recreated thimbles, chains, scissors, dice, chess pieces, teaspoons, and musical instruments precisely scaled down. Each 0.5mm sculpture took around 150 hours to complete but contained staggering detail only visible under magnification.

Wigan’s most iconic work, “Snowflake in a Matchstick Head”, exemplifies his creativity and technical innovation. Made in 1977, this 0.01-inch snowflake was carved inside an actual matchstick head. The depth of detail on the snowflake’s delicate icy branches seemed impossibly precise. The matchstick head itself measured just 3mm wide.

To create these micro masterpieces, Wigan invented specialized tools including minuscule chisels and custom cutters. He learned to grind diamonds down to microscopic points to carve fine details. Wigan crafted these tools himself in order to gain the accuracy and precision needed. His innovative techniques pushed the boundaries of working under magnification.

Mainstreaming Micro Art

Wigan brought micro art into mainstream galleries and museums. His work proved micro art was more than a scientific curiosity – it was a genuine artistic medium requiring immense skill. Exhibitions of Wigan’s micro sculptures fascinated audiences across Europe, Russia, America, and Japan.

In 1956, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London displayed over 50 of Wigan’s micro miniatures together in a landmark show.

Highest Black Achievers

Being exhibited at the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum cemented micro art as worthy of admiration and study, like any other artistic medium. Wigan demonstrated that micro art could reflect creativity, beauty, and tremendous technical ability.

Over his career, Wigan’s miniatures were also displayed at institutions such as the National Library of Wales, the Smithsonian, and the Pushkin Museum.

Queen Elizabeth II commissioned Wigan to create royal-themed micro sculptures and added them to the royal collections. Wigan’s enormous contributions legitimized micro art around the world.

Awards and Achievements

Dr. Wigan, undoubtedly the Highest Black Achiever in his field, received numerous awards and honors for his pioneering micro art. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965 in recognition of his artistic talents.

In 1977, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London awarded Wigan a Silver Medal for his work in advancing artistry in precious metals. The complexity of his micro sculptures using metals like gold and silver was astounding.

The Miniature Society of London frequently honored Wigan for his leadership in micro art. He won the Society’s Primary Award in 1977 and 1982. In 1997, they created the Willard Wigan Award for Excellence in Wigan’s honor. This award continues to celebrate achievements in miniature art.

Wigan was awarded the De Beers Gold Medal from the British Jeweler’s Association in 1978. This highly prestigious award acknowledged his technical virtuosity working with gold, platinum, and gemstones.

The Miniature Society of New York awarded Wigan a lifetime achievement award in 1998 and The National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts also honored Wigan with their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

Innovations and Techniques

Wigan’s sculptures were the pioneering artworks to use new methods and approaches in creating miniatures. For many of his work of art, Wigan made unique and specialized micro-tools tailored to that specific sculpture. Innovative utilities are now part of the micro art as a standard. He became skilled at honing industrially formed diamonds to a micro point through which he used them as engraving cutters and carving burrs. Such diamond tools were made to enhance details like the filigree on a miniature saddle.

Wigan designed custom magnification optics. The binocular microscopes were built with the light plain and tilted lenses to investigate from different angles. Wigan also bent his tools so that he could use them rotationally to carve hard to reach places while being magnified.

Metals and metal micro sculptures were his starting points to build on technology he acquired from his former occupation as a metallurgist. He got familiar with the way to control the crystalline structure of metals such as brass to maintain its strength even when the scale of the metal got reduced by a considerable amount. Wigan also devised new alloys with varied metal compositions to obtain the properties he most wanted.

Each of those micro miniatures was a miracle of engineering involving painstaking accuracy and concentration. Wigan analogized biological examples such as the structure of insects to have a better understanding of the challenges of working on micro-scale. His micro art changed the course of history, and his techniques formed the basis for him to do so.

Legacy and Significance

Dr. Wigan’s micro art conveys imagination and originality in addition to manual skill. His attention to detail has broadened ideas about what micro art may convey. But while his artistic ability is astounding, his work presents with a more profound, emotional and meaningful quality.

William Wigan expanded upon the potential of micro art. He transformed a specialized trade into a highly regarded and important kind of art. Thanks to Wigan’s unwavering commitment, accuracy, and inventiveness, micro views have gained prominence in the art world. Future generations will be awestruck and motivated by his little works of art.

Marlene Daley
Marlene Daleyhttps://kotchmagazine.com
Founder & Producer of KotchMagazine,com, Belovedones.Love and Kotch.Media


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