Miniature portrait of Marilyn Monroe worth £20,000 created in Birmingham is on its way to Hollywood

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A talented micro-engraver has created a stunning miniature portrait of Marilyn Monroe by punching more than 2,300 tiny dotted holes through a £5 note

Graham Short spent 80 hours over two weeks painstakingly using an ultra-fine needle to craft the 1cm (0.5ins) image of the iconic American actress.

He dotted a total of 2,312 minute holes over the fiver’s silver foil patch, which contains a 3D image of the coronation crown, and finished his piece on Thursday (November 3).

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The world-renowed artist, aged 76, takes medication to reduce his heart rate to just 25bpm and works between heartbeats to ensure maximum accuracy.

He has now offered to donate the artwork, estimated to be worth around £20,000, to the Marilyn Monroe Museum exhibition in Hollywood. Graham, of Bournville, said: “It’s around 2,312 small dots in total using a very tiny needle and they are all different sizes.

“It’s such an iconic image of her that I just had to do it. It’s one of her most famous pictures. Randomly, I got the idea after seeing a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and it inspired me to do something a bit different.

“She once famously said in an interview that she wore five drops of Chanel No. 5 and nothing else in bed. The new £5 note came out and I really liked that image of Marilyn, it’s such an iconic shot of her.

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“This went well from start to finish, it is larger than the normal one’s but it’s still a slow process using a very fine needle. I’m so used to how tricky and detailed it is now, I’ve been engraving for over 62 years. It took me two weeks to do, working six hours a day over 14 days.”

Graham Short from Birmingham, a master micro engraverGraham Short from Birmingham, a master micro engraver
Graham Short from Birmingham, a master micro engraver

Graham takes potassium, magnesium and betablockers to lower his heart rate, then engraves between heart beats while staying perfectly still. He also works at night to avoid vibration from passing traffic and uses ultra-fine Victorian needles.

He added: “I can get my heart beat down to around 25bpm. It makes sure there’s no distraction in my muscles when I’m working. I go to great lengths to ensure it. I’m used to it now, it’s just how it is.

“I work between midnight to 5am to remove the vibrations that happen during the day, it can be like an earthquake for me with the passing traffic. I’ve sent it off to the Marilyn Monroe museum now to see if they want it for display so I’m just waiting to hear back.”

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