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May 23, 2017

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Beauty of 'Game of Thrones' in miniature

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Art does not only seek to entertain the senses of its audience, it also imposes a mental and physical test on the creators. Arguably, the process of creating or performing art is the true essence and spirit of art.

This is not any less true in the art of micro-sculpting, a style which demands its practitioners devote absolute concentration to creating sculptures the circumference of a regular pencil.

Of the few masters of the craft, Salavat Fidai of Russia is one of the most renowned among those who use pencils as their canvas of preference. Using only X-ACTO knives, a microscope and magnifiers, Fidai first started experimenting with sculpting on the solid pigment core of pencils in 2014. "I first did art on matches," Fidai said.

"After doing some research online, I found out that some artists were doing micro-sculptures on pencils. I then realized that it is a unique material to work with and few practice it, so I saw it as a challenge for me. I decided to try it myself in 2014 and the first two pieces I made were Darth Vader and Batman."

A Game of Patience and Discipline

According to the artist, the art of micro-sculpting is also an art of patience and discipline, as the amount of concentration required to put a knife on a material as fragile as graphite is not to be taken lightly.

"When I work on my sculptures, I go into a state on mediation, so that I can concentrate on a particular millimeter. I listen to music and everyone in my house must be in absolute silence," he said.

"I also prefer to work at night to get absolute silence and to guarantee that there's no motion in my surroundings. That is because even the slightest vibration from a car passing by my home could affect the piece," he went on. "While concentration is the most difficult part, there is also the matter of my health, specifically my eyes. I also have to make sure that my hands don't shake when I work. So, I have to take breaks between sculptures to care for my health."

Aside from taking on a lifestyle that safeguards his wellbeing for the sake of his work, Fidai has also carefully selected his preferred tools and pencils to provide an extra measure to guarantee the success and quality of his work.

Fidai said that he tends to create his sculptures on HB or 2H pencils, as they are slightly more durable compared to other graphite grades.

A Game of Micro-Sculptures

As a result of the acclaim his works have received, Fidai was recently commissioned by the Home Box Office (HBO) Company to recreate and translate 16 pieces of art from the famous "Game of Thrones" television series to celebrate the widely anticipated 7th season of the show, set to air around the globe on July 16.

"Working on 'Game of Thrones' was exciting for me because it is one of my favorite stories. The project pushed my limits because it was complicated and it would have to look like miniature replicas of the originals artworks. The fact that the show has such a large audience was also a worry for me, because I know many will see my work."

In total, Fidai made 16 different sculptures on pencils, including a sculpture of the show's terrifying "White Walkers," as well as the infamous crown of the Queen Regent Cersei Lannister.

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