Feature,  News

Art under the Microscope

Toucans (2.5mm each)
The extraordinary world of Marie Coyhdon

In her earliest childhood, Marie was drawn to little things; tiny flowers especially, that she picked and kept like little jewels. she loved the porcelain dinettes & miniature furniture.

Marie always loved to draw & so moved towards an artistic career, becoming a designer for French furniture and lighting brand. Creating miniatures began about ten years ago, after the birth of her son. She taught herself to sculpt using the lost wax process to make contemporary jewellery, then the microscope arrived & she challenged herself to make things smaller and smaller. Skills have been acquired over years with lots of research on materials, resistance & tools. She also had to learn to accept the inevitable failure and tremors of her hand.

There were many artists who have inspired her work – jewellers, watchmakers & enamel painters, Italian micro-mosaicists from the 18/19th century; artists who paint on nails or on grains of rice such as Hasan Kale, or other artists such as Willard Wigan or Yuri Deulin, who, themselves defy the laws of the grain of dust.

What I try to do when creating a miniature is of course to amaze but also to lead the viewer to the following question “how did she do this thing, how is it possible?”

But Marie says the most important thing to capture in a miniature is its illusion of perfection. It shows we are human & is what differentiates us from the 3D printing machine, because we do imperfect things but we know what steps we went through to achieve them, so the viewer will also intuitively knows this.

Marie working in her studio

Marie works in her studio, mainly in the morning, with her most important tools, a microscope and scalpel & her mind of course. There are so many difficult steps to her work & the tremors in her hands when working in this scale are annoying.

The heartbeat echoes in your hand, so I work between the beats, sometimes I do this when I have to paint details such as eyes on my graphites.

The paint dries immediately, Marie only has 3 or 4 seconds to put it on, and sometimes if it is too runny, there is a great risk of drowning the sculpture. The proportions are also very difficult to do correctly because the object is often deformed under the microscope, the eye & therefore the brain must permanently rectify these defects. This skill took years of practice to acquire.

Art at the end of a pencil

But even if Marie finishes a piece, it only takes the graphite to break with a snap & the bird or the micro sculpture that she is about to stick on the support flies away and is lost forever in the workshop. In fact, it is the best school of “accepted” frustration and extreme concentration. Marie believes this active meditation allows her to be more resistant to the obstacles of real life.

Marie is currently working on Queen Elisabeth and her 3 dogs was probably her toughest challenge to date, but all her work is a challenge when you are working in such a small scale that you need a microscope to see your finished creation.

To see more of her incredible work, log onto her blog: :   https://mariecohydon.blogspot.com/