Dalton Ghetti Turns Pencils Into The Art

The intricate magic of pencil lead sculptor Dalton Ghetti. He’s been featured on a lot of blogs and website, and it is easy to found out with a quick Google search. It is certainly worth to share.

“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” – says about his work Dalton Ghetti.


A PENCIL is just an instrument, an effective tool for scratching measurements onto wood, updating checkbooks and filling in bubbles in tests.

Unless it’s in the hands of Dalton Ghetti. The 45-year-old Bridgeport resident has been carving sculptures into pencil lead, without the aid of a magnifying glass, for 25 years.

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There’s a boot. And a church. And a bust of Elvis. And “Chain,” in which the middle of a pencil has been transformed into a 23-link chain. He has about a dozen works that have been framed and almost as many waiting to be mounted for display. Last year, after two and half years, he finished a line of 26 pencils, with each letter of the alphabet carved into the tip. His current projects include a handsaw and a single rice-grain-sized teardrop for every victim of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


“The idea is, as you walk in, you’ll see a huge tear drop far away,” he said. “As you walk up close to it, you’ll see that it’s made up of tiny little ones. So I make one a day. I was watching the whole thing from Sherwood Island State Park, and I broke down and cried all day. I had a vision about doing something about it, and that’s what I came up with. It’ll probably take about 10 years to do it.”


Anyone who has seen a completed work won’t be surprised to hear that a project will take a decade. Mr. Ghetti often takes years to complete pieces, especially since pencil carving is only a hobby, along with camping and coaching volleyball at the Westport Y.M.C.A. He sells postcards and posters of his art (pieces are not for sale), but his main income comes from carpentry.


“You could see how he could do this — he’s Zen-like, very patient and quiet,” said Rick Torres, the owner of Harborview Market, in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport. “He’s a pretty stable person, no waves in his system at all. And I think you would need to be that way to do that kind of work.”


Mr. Ghetti, who owns about as many possessions as a monk, is aware how unusual his craft is. He started carving tree bark when he was a child and experimented with everything from soap to chalk before settling on graphite. It’s second nature now, and for 90 percent of his work, all he needs is a sewing needle, a razor blade and a carpenter’s or No. 2 pencil.

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“The pencil tip is great; it’s like a pure, very homogenous material,” he 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.”

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