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Sculptor’s tiny art a big hit for Ripley’s

Little things mean a lot to sculptor Willard Wigan. He has created dozens of pieces of art that fit into the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin.

Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment purchased 97 of Wigan’s microsculptures, which have started appearing in its Believe It or Not museums.

Wigan, 55, started thinking small as a 5-year-old, making houses for ants that he feared were homeless.

“I got carried away and made a few more houses, then I made tables and chairs and little beds. …This is where the obsession kicked in,” Wigan said Monday.

Today he uses a microscope with tiny tools he handcrafted.

From his home in Birmingham, England, he creates scenes and characters, including Superman, Marilyn Monroe, the Statue of Liberty, the Obama family and Charlie Chaplin standing on an eyelash. Some Wigan works belong to big-name collectors including The X Factor’s Simon Cowell, singer Elton John and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who owns Wigan’s crown that fits on the head of a pin.

Each piece takes between three weeks and three months to complete, Wigan said. He has worked on one for 18 consecutive hours.

“I don’t actually enjoy doing it. But I enjoy finishing it,” he said.

Wigan’s work will be on display in Ripley’s Florida museums within six months, said Edward Meyer, Ripley vice president for exhibits and archives.

Ripley’s would not say specifically how much it paid for the micro-sculptures.

“You could buy a car for every one of them — and I’m talking a good car,” Meyer said.