TAIPEI (Reuters) - Some sculptors work in marble, others in cement or metal. But Taiwan's Chen Forng-shean uses things like rice, sand and dental floss to create tiny creatures no bigger than a thumbnail.
His latest creation, a dragon made out of gold foil and black resin, is a mere 1.2 cm long, not quite half an inch, and stands only 0.9 cm high. Complete with legs and claws, it is barely visible to the naked eye.
"The hardest part about making this dragon is the sculpting for the limbs and the claws. These are the most delicate parts, also its open jaw and its whiskers," said Chen of the dragon, which he maintains is the world's smallest.
"After the dragon was completed I had to pay attention to its body so it looks like the dragon is above the clouds, that's the dragon's spirit."
A recently retired plate designer for Taiwan's Central Engraving and Printing Plant, the 56-year-old Chen began creating miniature sculptures as a hobby three decades ago.
The dragon took Chen three months to complete, and he failed several times. It went on display at the weekend, part of a continuing tradition of sculpting animals from the twelve-animal Chinese zodiac.
Next year is the Lunar Year of the Dragon.
Visitors to the exhibit said they were astonished by the piece, one example of a high-end Chinese art thousands of years old.
"I admire the work very much. It's amazing," said 72-year-old Hsia Chun-chun.
Reporting by Christine Lu, writing by Jialu Chen, editing by Elaine Lies and Nick Macfie