The realm of the minaiture is often the result of extreme patience, obsession with small things as well as the astounding results of time based hand works. Dalton Ghetti creates sculptures made entirely from the graphite lead at the tip of a pencil. The works are carved without any magnifying lens using only a standard sewing needle, a razor blade, a sharp sculpting knife and a very steady hand.
"The pencil tip is great; it's like a pure, very homogenous material," Ghetti said. "It cuts in the same direction, not like wood, which has a grain. But when I tell people how long it takes, that's when they don't believe it. That's what amazes people more... the patience. Because everything nowadays has to be fast, fast, fast.
Dalton Ghetti grew up in Brazil where he shapened his pencils for school with a razor or a pocketknife. Later his sculptures were large scale and made from stone. Gradually, however, they became smaller works in soap, candles and broom handles before being reduced to the point of a pencil. He now lives in Bridgeport Connecticut where he makes a modest living as a carpenter and spending his free time carving pencils. He never sells his works but sometimes gives them to his friends as gifts.
"When I'm inspired, I can sit down and things just flow". he said. "You can't force yourself to do those things. I do it just for fun, it's pretty much like a hobby, a kind of meditation work that I do."
"I do it from my heart, I do it when I feel like... and I pretty much do it for myself", he said. "It's my own interest in the small things in life that drove me to call people's attention to them.
One work is a series of pencils each with a letter from the alphabet at the tip of each pencil. Each letter took a month to carve. Sometimes they break but are placed in his "graveyard collection" ... a group of works glued to pins and stuck into a piece of styrofoam.
"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 almonst 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 less pencils, although I still do break them, it's not as often.
"Normally I'll start a different piece, but there was a hammer I was sculpting and I broke it about five or six times and I couldn't rest until it was done.
"Also, I never buy the pencils, my friends are always giving me them to sculpt on. Sometimes I use ones I find in the street."
About his "graveyard collection" he said, "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."
Mr. Ghetti has made over 100 carvings, and is currently working on an epic piece inspired by the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
He said, "When September 11 happened I was in tears all day and couldn't do much for a while. I decided to make a teardrop pencil carving for each of the people who died in the attack.. about 3,000. I have carved one every day, it takes me about 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."
Also read the NY Times article about his works...