pencil sculptures by dalton ghetti
pencil sculptures by dalton ghetti pencil sculptures by dalton ghetti
may 24, 2012

pencil sculptures by dalton ghetti

‘chain’ image © sloan T howard photography

since the young age of 6, são paulo-born artist dalton ghetti learned how to handle tools, when he and fellow classmates would use razor blades or pocket knives to sharpen their pencils for drawing and writing. at the age of 8, ghetti learned how to sew in order to help his seamstress mother with hemming and attaching buttons, furthering his skill in detailed hand work. the next year, he received a set of metal tools for children for his 9th birthday with which he started carving and building toys; sculpting with knives, chisels and hammers. this hobby sparked his love for carpentry. at 24, he moved to the USA where he earned an associate of arts degree in architecture, while working as a cabinet maker. upon graduation he became employed as a home remodeler, a job which he continues doing today.

in his free time, ghetti first began to create large carved pieces, but 1986 was the year when he decided to challenge himself by conceiving the smallest possible carvings that he could. his first attempt was from a #2 pencil, and ever since he has developed a wide range of art works formed from the writing utensil. the small intricate objects are an exploration of scale and material. as lead is pushed to its structural limits, so are the strengths of human eyesight and dexterity since all the sculptures are made with the naked eye. to create the miniature artworks, ghetti holds the pencil in his hand under a strong light source, carving with either a sewing needle or sharp triangular metal blade gradually removing specks of graphite at a time. this process usually sees ghetti working for one or two hour intervals at a time, which results in the pieces taking months, or sometimes years to complete.  

‘most of the time, while I am walking around, I find pencils tossed on the streets and sidewalks, especially near schools. generally, the pencils that I find do not have information on them about the type of graphite, so as I carve,  I learn about the properties of that pencil’s graphite.‘ – dalton ghetti

the self-taught artist sharpens pencils in his spare time as a form of meditation. ghetti has exhibited his miniature sculptures both nationally and internationally in galleries and museums and his works are not for sale. for him, it’s not about the money, it’s for himself, and he wants to keep it that way.

‘boot’ image © sloan T howard photography

‘comb with broken tooth’ image © sloan T howard photography

(left to right) ‘hanging heart’ and ‘big hammer’ images © sloan T howard photography

(from left to right) ‘little house’, ‘mailbox’ and ‘church’  images © sloan T howard photography

‘dalton’ spelled out from the alphabet series  image © sloan T howard photography

dalton ghetti carving the lead of a pencil  image © sloan T howard photography

view of the process  image © sloan T howard photography

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
492,664 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample