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A Nativity scene in the eye of a needle



Daniel Esparza - published on 12/03/22

Engraved on a speck of gold in the eye of a needle, this Nativity scene might be the smallest (or the second smallest) in the world.

A literally microscopic image of a Nativity scene has recently gone on (microscopic) display. Considered by some the world’s smallest Nativity scene, it was engraved on a speck of gold in the eye of a needle by Birmingham (UK) micro-engraver Graham Short, who previously produced a picture of Queen Elizabeth II on a pinhead, which sold for £100,000, according to the note published by the BBC.

Another image competes for the title of smallest, though. It is the famed “Nano Holy Family” – a microscopic 3-D printed model produced by scientists at Vilnius University with funding from the Lithuanian government. The Lithuanian image (which is also microscopic, and fits in the eye of a needle as well) is a replica of the Nativity scene at Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, and was sent in 2017 to Pope Francis as a Christmas gift from the Lithuanian government.

Unlike the Lithuanian Nativity scene, however, Short’s is fully handmade, using only a powerful medical microscope besides his regular engraving tools.The artist told BBC that he uses some medications to lower his heart rate, though, so that he can produce this kind of work: “I actually engrave between heartbeats,” he said.

Visitors to a Nativity festival at St Laurence Church, Northfield, can admire the piece using a microscope.

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