World’s smallest nativity scene carved on speck of gold by Birmingham micro-artist

76-year-old Graham Short went to extraordinary lengths to ensure his body remained as still as possible for the intricate carving

A micro-artist has created the world’s smallest nativity scene which is mounted in the eye of a needle – and is worth at least £20,000.

Graham Short spent 40 hours painstakingly etching the minuscule scene onto a speck of gold no wider than a human hair using an ultra-fine needle.

The 76-year-old engraver went to extraordinary lengths to ensure his body remained as still as possible for the intricate carving. He took beta blockers to reduce his heart rate and wore a monitor to time his hand movements between beats.

Graham also had Botox-style injections around his eyes to stop the nerves and muscles twitching while he worked. The gold speck measures just 100 microns wide – 30 more microns than the average human hair.

The pensioner, from Bournville, Birmingham, embarked on the festive project for his local church.

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

Graham Short's nativity scene engraved on a spec of gold inside the eye of a needle

What has Graham said?

Graham said: “This latest project is for the local church as they have a nativity display and they’ve had about 60 items on show and I thought I’d like to contribute to that.

“It took me eight days and five hours a day. It is a slow process. The needles always slip, then you have to polish and start again. Once I slip I have to start again.

“It doesn’t bother me, I just have to get on with it. I’m used to restarting after doing it for so long. I would imagine it’s the smallest nativity scene in the world, there can’t be many others like it.

“I use a very fine needle to get the detail and rub it down to get it as precise as possible. It’s probably the smallest that I’ve done, I know it’s a 100microns as I placed a hair across it.”

Graham worked in the early hours of the morning to avoid the vibrations caused by traffic going past his workshop in Birmingham.

He also took beta blockers to lower his heart beat so his body was as still as possible to create the work which is worth at least £20,000.

Micro-engraver Graham Short from Birmingham.

Graham added: “About 30 minutes after taking the pills my heartbeat drops to 25bpm.

“I do a lot of swimming so I can keep fit so I can keep on taking it. I also work late at night when most people are at home in bed and there isn’t much noise or vibrations from traffic outside.

“The traffic causes vibrations as they go past in the day time. The only problem is as I get older I get too tired. I have to work between midnight and 5am to get the best results, doing five hours of work a day.

“This piece is probably worth around £20,000 but I’m sure it’d earn a lot more than that.

Micro-engraver Graham Short from Birmingham.

“It’s not as impossible as it looks. It’s not that impossible under the microscope, it’s that powerful. It lets you get the detail needed.”

The talented micro-engraver previously created four banknotes featuring a 5mm image of Jane Austen which were each worth £50,000.

Graham also previously produced a picture of the Queen on a pinhead which sold for £100,000.