The sculptures pictured above are not as big as they seem. In fact, they’re not much larger than the tip of a pencil. There’s a reason for that: they were carved from pencil tips.
Dalton Ghetti, a carpenter, created the masterpieces above and a slew of others — including this alphabet set, carved at the rate of one letter a month — in his free time. He’s been sculpting pencils for 25 years, as “a challenge to myself,” as he told the New York Daily News. “I can do anything really big, but the small stuff is really difficult, so I was like, let me see how small I can go.” Ghetti uses razor blades, sewing needles, and a sculpting knife to make his creations. What doesn’t he employ? A magnifying glass, amazingly.
Ghetti’s sculptures have a high failure rate, of course. But he takes them in stride. He’s put together a graveyard of unfinished sculptures and displays them on pins. His successes are on display as well: at the New Britain Museum of Art. (Can’t make it to central Connecticut? You can see more of Ghetti’s work online at Odd Stuff Magazine.)
Bonus fact: Joining Ghetti in micro-sculpture is Willard Wigan, a British fellow who, similarly does not use a magnifying glass — because for Wigan, it wouldn’t be strong enough. He needs a microscope for his sculptures — sculptures which fit within the eye of a sewing needle (a tool used by Ghetti!). Wigan discusses his work in this video, well worth the under 3 minutes it runs, explains more, including how he builds his microscopic “paintbrushes” and his theory as to where his Alice in Wonderland sculpture disappeared.
Related: A micro-sculpture tool set — which costs more than you’d think.