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Master Micro-Engraver Uses Stethoscope to Monitor Heart Rhythm, Only Works Between Heartbeats

British micro-engraver Graham Short is famous for creating detailed carvings that are so unbelievably tiny that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. On a never-ending quest to push his limits and create the tiniest engraving possible, Short has engraved specks of gold small enough to fit in the eye of a needle and even the edge of a razor blade. His secret – working between heartbeats.

To produce his tiny masterpieces, Graham works in complete silence, because even the slightest sound could produce vibrations that might ruin his work. He steadies his right arm by securing it with a strap attached to a piece of heavy machinery. His mobile is switched off, and he mostly works at night to avoid the vibrations of vehicles passing in the street. Starting at midnight, he works through the night until five or six in the morning, and continues for three to four nights in a row, until he gets too tired and his body clock needs readjustment.

As much as he tries to eliminate distractions, there is one vibration that Graham cannot silence – his own heartbeat. But he’s come up with a ingenius technique to work around that as well. Graham tapes a stethoscope to his chest and places the earpieces in his ears, keenly listening to his own heartbeat. With his carving tool in hand, he waits motionless, for as long as 20 minutes, until his heart rate is at its lowest. Then, listening intently, he only makes a carving at his stillest moments – in between heartbeats.

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Microscopic Wonders – Incredibly Detailed Castles Etched onto Individual Grains of Sand

Artist Vik Muniz is almost a regular here at OC. We first wrote about his art made from domestic and industrial junk in 2010. Then, in 2012 he was back with his recreation of classic paintings using torn magazine scraps. Now, in collaboration with artist and MIT researcher Marcelo Coelho, Vik has taken then opposite approach to his previous art forms. While his older, gigantic art could only be admired from high above, his latest work is microscopic – a series of sandcastles etched onto individual grains of sand.

Vik said that earlier he had the opportunity to work on an environmental scale. Around that same time, he thought of “going the opposite way around and actually making things so small that it would create a similar impression. They would be so tiny that they could only be imagined, they could not be seen.” When Marcelo was first approached by Vik, he thought it was a joke. “He came to me and said, I want to draw a castle on to a grain of sand. I think the sheer impossibility of that is what excited me.”

Vik and Marcelo spent four long years on trial-and-error experiments before they could successfully create the tiny, magnificent drawings. Each piece of art is less than half a millimeter in size – an inconsequential fleck of sand to the naked eye. Together, they devised a process involving both antiquated technology and innovative visual tools. Vik first created the sketches using a camera Lucida – an optical superimposition device from the 1800s that uses a prism to turn images in front of the viewer into projections on paper. Using this technique, he was able to trace the tiny castles.

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Artist Creates Sculpture Smaller Than a Blood Cell on a Hair Stubble

Renowned microsculptor Willard Wigan MBE has created the world’s smallest ever work of art by carving a motorcycle on a hollowed-out hair stubble, by hand, in between his heartbeats. The tiny masterpiece measures just 3 microns and is only visible through a microscope.

55-year-old Willard Wigan MBE was already famous for his tiny pinhead sculptures, but he wanted “to go beyond human expectations” and “personally challenge himself” to create something even more amazing that the world hadn’t seen before. So one day, while brushing his face after a shave, he noticed a tiny hair stubble embedded in his fingerprint and decided that was going to be his new canvas. The Birmingham-based artist somehow managed to hollow out the hair fragment and armed with a special tool featuring microscopic diamond fragments he painstakingly sculpted a golden chopper motorcycle, working 16-hours a day for five weeks. Why would such a small work of art take so long to create, you ask? Willard explains that his microscopic chopper is smaller that a human blood cell and so fragile that even the pulse in his finger could have crushed it completely, so he was forced to work in between heartbeats.

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The Microscopic Marvels of Vladimir Aniskin

Vladimir Aniskin is one of the few people in the world who can create microscopic artworks so tiny they fit on half a poppy seed.

The 33-year-old scientist, who works at the Syberian branch of the Russian Academy of Science, in Tyumen, has been practicing microminiature art since 1998, and devotes several months to completing a single piece. Over the years, he has learned to work in between heartbeats, which gives him about half a second to do a controlled movement before his hand shakes. “While working I hold my creation in my fingers. Even one’s heartbeat disturbs such minute work, so particularly delicate work has to be done between heartbeats.” Vladimir says.

His miniature masterpieces are created using powerful microscopes and a set of tools he himself designed, and to fully appreciate the fine detail of his art, one also needs a microscope. That’s because some of his works are measured in microns. Aniskin’s amazing portfolio includes a grain of rice inscribed with 2,027 letters, which took three months to complete, a caravan of camels in the eye of a needle, and a Christmas scene on a thin horse hair.

The following photos don’t do Vladimir Aniskin’s work justice, but if you’re ever in St. Petersburg, you can admire 80 of his microscopic wonders at the first Russian museum of micro-miniatures – The Russian Lefty.

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