Dalton Ghetti, an artist from Bridgeport, U.S., has spent a good 25 years of his life working with a razor blade, a sewing needle and a sculpting knife to carve unique miniature sculptures on the graphite of used pencils.
The 49 year old said: "At school I would carve a friend's name into the wood of a pencil and then give it to them as a present. Later, when I got into sculpture, I would make these huge pieces from things like wood, but decided I wanted to challenge myself by trying to make things as small as possible. I experimented sculpting with different materials, such as chalk, but one day I had an eureka moment and decided to carve into the graphite of a pencil"
Dalton uses three basic tools to make his incredible creations - a razor blade, sewing needle and sculpting knife. He even refuses to use a magnifying glass and has never sold any of his work, only given it away to friends. He said: "I use the sewing needle to make holes or dig into the graphite. I scratch and create lines and turn the graphite around slowly in my hand"
The longest Dalton has spent on one piece was two and half years on a pencil with interlinking chains. A standard figure will take several months. He said: "The interlinking chains took the most effort and I was really pleased with it because it's so intricate people think it must be two pencils"
When Dalton, from Connecticut, USA, first started he would become frustrated when a piece would break before being finished after he had spent months working on it. He said: "It would drive me mad when I would be just a bit too heavy handed and the pencil's tip would break. I would get very nervous sometimes, particularly when the piece was almost finished, and then I would make a mistake. I decided to change the way I thought about the work - when I started a new piece my attitude would be 'well this will break eventually but let's see how far I get. It helped me break fewer pencils, and although I still do break them, it's not as often"
Dalton, who is originally from Brazil, has a box full of more than 100 sculptures that have broken while working on them that he affectionately calls 'the cemetery collection'. He said: "I have quite a few broken pieces so I decided to glue them on pins and into styrofoam for a display case. People might think it's weird I keep them but they're still interesting. I worked on them for months so they might be dead now but at one point I gave them life"
Dalton has made about 100 carvings, and is currently working on an epic piece inspired by the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He said: "I decided to make a teardrop pencil carving for each of the people who died in the attack, about 3,000. Since 2002 I have carved one every day, it takes me under an hour. When I'm done they will form one big tear drop. It will take me about 10 years but it will be worth it"
"I don't make any money from it but that's not what it's about for me. However, I would love for a gallery owner in England to fly me over to put on a show," he said.
Subscribe to our Newsletter and get articles like this delieverd straight to your inbox