Micro-engraver, Graham Short – best known for having inscribed the entire Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin – has recently finished working on an unbelievable portrait of the Queen, to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday on 21st April.
The Lord’s Prayer garnered Graham international fame for his talent and craft and has elevated him to rock-star status, last seen in the 17th century when master engravers Dürer and Robert Nanteuil’s work rivalled that of painting and sculpture.
Graham, aged 69, is considered to be one of the world’s greatest micro-artists. His minuscule art sells around the globe to fine-art investors.
He considers himself to be an obsessive. In his efforts to push the limits of miniature engraving to levels never seen before, he punishes himself physically and mentally.
“I work at midnight to avoid vibration from passing traffic. If a lorry passes a few blocks away I can feel it through the microscope. I take potassium, magnesium and beta-blockers during the night in an effort to lower my heart to around 20 beats a minute, then whilst wearing a stethoscope, I engrave, using the finest needles possible, between heart beats. A regular course of Botox injections into my eyelids prevents any distraction while I’m working.”
The Lord’s Prayer, engraved on the head of a pin, took him 40 years and he ruined hundreds of pins before it was finished in 2010. Another remarkable feat was the engraving of Leonardo daVinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ along the sharp edge of a razor blade. This took four months of toil and torment in the dead of night.
“On a good night I can manage seven cuts into the metal. This gives me a letter E and a letter F completed. Because I am engraving at such fine tolerances I always slip and have to start again. It can be very frustrating at times, but well worth it when I get it right.”
The thickness of a human hair is measured at 100 microns. His work is often 5 microns high – smaller than a red human blood cell.
“Artists all over Britain will be producing portraits of the Queen to celebrate her 90th birthday. I wanted to do something really special, something that none of the 7 billion people on the planet could comprehend.”
For his canvas he has inserted a speck of gold inside the eye of a needle. After three months he had managed to engrave her exquisite portrait on this minuscule ‘canvas’. He ruined over 30 pieces until the final one was finished.
“I am very pleased with the finished result. I’ve been able to get lots of detail in the crown. This is certainly one of my best pieces. Many great artists are always very complimentary about my work but I think this one will blow their mind. Which is what I intended to do when I started it.”
This ordinary Brummie, as he refers to himself, attempts the impossible – then he produces the impossible. But this uniquely talented Brummie’s micro-art is certainly far from ordinary