Dalton Ghetti does not put pencil to paper to create his works of art. He instead, focusses entirely on the tip, carving the cusp of lead whilst hand-crafting miniature sculptural masterpieces from this unassuming writing instrument. A carpenter by day, Ghetti’s practical handiwork skills haveliterally been sharpened to perfection in making these graphite monuments to precision for the past 25 years.For Ghetti, this unusual hobby is a means of meditation and satisfaction; he’s not in it for the money nor the notoriety.
Ghetti uses three basic tools to perfect these refined, miniscule sculptures- a razor blade, sewing needle and sculpting knife. He uses the needle to make holes or dig into the graphite, by turning the pencil slowly in his hand he can scratch and carve lines into the lead, prompting textures and delicate details barely visible to the naked eye. Ghetti refuses to use a magnifying glass when working, relying on his eagle-eye vision for absolute, undeniable precision.
The 49-year-old Brazilian born says: “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.”
Two and a half years is the longest Ghetti has worked on one of his masterpieces, displaying incredible accuracy with interlinking chains of lead between what seems to be two separate pencils. As a standard rule, his carvings can take several months from insight to completion and the meticulous detail is profound. These small, complex objects are a true exploration of scale and material, pushing the limits of his chosen medium and examining the physical properties of graphite and wood in the process. Interestingly, he doesn’t sell any of his works, preferring to give them away to friends and has exhibited them in galleries and museums nationally and internationally.
September 11 motivated Ghetti to produce a series of lead shaped hearts, each the size of a grain of rice and one for every victim as a memorial to the incident. The individual teardrops were carved from recycled pencils found on streets and sidewalks.Ghetti has a box of over 100 broken pencil projects, which he has kept as a sort of ‘cemetery collection’.
Fastidiously crafting 26 lead letters from the alphabet and a 10mm high graphite chapel are physical manifestations of patience as a virtue- inspiring reminders that we cannot underestimate the underlying properties and artful capabilities of the even the most ubiquitous everyday objects.