Many artists have used pencils to create works of art – but Dalton Ghetti creates miniature masterpieces on the tips of pencils.
Dalton, who works as a carpenter, has been making his tiny graphite works for about 25 years. A sculpture of Elvis Presley wearing shades, carved from a single pencil.
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”
A tiny saw, using both the wood and graphite of a single 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”
“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
Dalton hollowed out the centre of the wood, then carved the central column of graphite to create this hanging, linked heart
Carved from the graphite in a normal pencil: A tiny hammer
Carved from the graphite in a normal pencil: A tiny button
This carving shows a goblet being held by a hand, all carved from one pencil’s graphite
Carved from the graphite in a normal pencil: A highly detailed boot
A miniature graphite chair
Using the eraser end of a pencil, Dalton created a tiny cross sculpture from the internal graphite
A mini mailbox on a post
An intricately detailed screw, carved in one piece from a pencil’s graphite