8 Amazing Works of Art You Need a Microscope to Appreciate

For as long as there have been people making art, there have been people who are really good at it. People like Thomas Kinkade and the painter of Space Jesus, just to name two. But it's one thing to paint the weeping, planet-sized face of Jesus Christ hovering in space; it's another to intentionally make the job more difficult on yourself by picking the hardest possible medium to create your work. Like, for instance, if the thing you were sculpting or drawing on was microscopic.

At that point, you're really just showing off. At the risk of rewarding that kind of showboating, here is ...

#8. Pencil Tip Art, by Dalton Ghetti

Dalton M. Ghetti
Does this count as a No. 2?

That's not a huge novelty pencil tip right there. That's a tiny little saw carved into the end of a regular ol' pencil (in this case, a flat carpenter-style pencil) with microscopic precision.

The same pencils we throw away when they're too stubby, Dalton M. Ghetti makes into art. Intricate art. And that's not the work of a laser and a computer -- this was done with his own two hands, using a razor blade, sewing needle and magnifying glass to carve his intricate sculptures out of graphite and pencil wood.

Are you noticing how he planned it so that the handle of the saw would be wood, but the blade would be graphite? Are you letting that sink in? Now notice the four little screws or rivets on the handle at the base of the blade. Yeah, this man is insane.

Dalton M. Ghetti
We bet he carved tiny postcards inside there.

Are you imagining how easy it would be to snap that right off if your hand slipped or, heck, if you just touched it the wrong way? Or how many hours of work you would lose every time somebody accidentally grabbed one of the pencils and started making a grocery list with it?

Dalton M. Ghetti
Anyone feel like Monopoly?

If the pencils look used, that's because Ghetti purposely uses discarded objects for his medium. So each of his pencils was once somebody's trash. And since his art isn't for sale, the only way you're going to get a Ghetti original is to drop a pencil on the ground and wait in hopes that he picks it up, then break into his studio after he turns it into a beautiful horse head or whatever.

#7. Sculptures in the Eye of a Needle, by Willard Wigan

Joe Biden is trapped inside a nearby thimble.

It's easy to be unimpressed by this Willard Wigan sculpture of the Obama family if you're not grasping the scale. Let's put it this way: That little dark thing protruding into the picture from the bottom? That's an eyelash. And that oval frame where the first family is standing is the eye of a needle.

For perspective, here's a picture of a pair of disembodied hands holding a regular-sized needle:


Yeah. If you've ever attempted sewing, you know how hard it is just to fit a thread through that little hole at the end of the needle -- imagine squeezing a whole tableau in there. Note the details, like the president's tie. And that's just the beginning:

Amazing Planet
Above: How Lilliputians immigrate.

To make sculptures so small, Wigan has to use surgical blades. After all, he's working with materials like grains of sand, dust fibers, spider cobwebs and the hair from a dead fly. A half empty dustbin is like his Costco. The process is exhausting:

Because the works are so minute, the sculptor has learned to control his nervous system and breathing to ensure he does not make even the tiniest movement. Wigan, when working, enters a meditative state in which his heartbeat is slowed, allowing him to reduce any hand tremors and work between heartbeats.

You know your work is intense when you have to put yourself into a coma to do it.

Wigan spends a chunk of each workday clinically dead.

#6. Sagaki Keita Draws Classic Masterpieces Composed of Tiny Doodles

Colossal Art & Design

That drawing of the Mona Lisa is good, but not mind-blowing. Like you wouldn't Facebook "Like" it or anything. But take a closer look:

Colossal Art & Design
She must have fallen asleep at a party.

The whole thing is made of tiny little interlocking doodles.

Sagaki Keita recreates classic works of art composed of little goofball characters that any of us could have drawn during seventh grade math. Look carefully and you'll probably find a dong.

Here's another reproduction you might recognize:

Sagaki Keita

Look closer:

Look closer still and you'll find:

CMD+SHIFT Design Blog

Ha ha. Gotcha.

#5. Akinobu's Itty Bitty Models in Itty Bitty Bottles

Free York
The tiny vikings are out raiding a village in a bottle.

If you're anything like us, you have no idea how people get ships into bottles, but you vaguely suspect voodoo, time travel or Criss Angel. If there's a perfectly logical technique to it, we don't want to know, because we thrive on fantasy. Maybe they make the ship first and build the bottle around it?

But Japanese artist Akinobu doesn't just put ships in bottles -- he puts ships in ridiculously tiny little vials smaller than your thumb. And not just ships -- he puts whole landscapes in them, and dinosaur skeletons and mini-universes.

Akinobu Izumi, Etsy
Pssh. Everyone knows little velociraptors are where it's at.

Akinobu Izumi, Etsy
Tiny sea turtles hatched on the beach!

Now, if you look at those bottlets, you'll notice that the openings aren't as proportionately small as the opening of a wine jug or Budweiser bottle or whatever. Yet carving those little worlds, then getting them into anything without crushing their metaphorical guts, is a major triumph in itself.

And unlike most of the works of art on this list, Akinobu's work is available on Etsy. They're the perfect gift for everyone's favorite bottle-themed holiday, Tiny Model in a Bottle Day!

Akinobu Izumi, Etsy
It's a lot of fun until you realize there aren't air holes.

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