Dalton Ghetti has never sharpened a pencil using a pencil sharpener. Even as a young boy, he used a razor blade to scrape the wood and graphite with great care. And he retained the skill: To this day, Ghetti uses a similar razor blade to whittle his pencils.
Ghetti, a native of Brazil who has lived in the U.S. for 27 years, makes pencil art. He has “sharpened” scores of pencils, crafting a giraffe, a wine glass and a bust of Elvis, among other sculptures, from the graphite tips of old pencil stubs. He would rather not use new pencils because he says he “loves recycling.” Along with razor blades, he uses needle points and, for special projects, dental instruments. He never uses a magnifying glass.
Ghetti spent two years on the alphabet shown here, putting in an hour or more each day. It was tough in the beginning: The letter A broke after he worked on it for a long time already. The letter I was the easiest and the letter S was the hardest, he says. Ghetti also made a memorial for the victims of 9/11; he spent nearly a decade carving some 3,000 tiny tears from graphite, one for each victim.
Ghetti has occasionally made wooden sculptures, but he prefers miniature art: “I appreciate the small things in life. I’m always careful when I walk on the street. I look out for ants and other small animals. I wouldn’t want to step on them.” Ghetti is a carpenter by trade but sells only photographs of his pencil art, not the sculptures themselves. It’s just a hobby, he says: “Some people come home and watch TV or read. This is what I do.”
By Elleke Bal
Find out more at daltonmghetti.com.