Pencil Tip Sculptures & “The Keys of Paris”

See on Scoop.itThe Art of Everyday

Connecticut carpenter Dalton Ghetti takes a new spin to sculpture, using his medium as his subject. He has been making intricate miniature sculptures from the graphite at the tip of a pencil for over 25 years now, though he has never sold his pieces, only giving them away to friends as gifts.

This process began for Ghetti as a child, when he would carve his friends’ names into the sides of pencils as presents. He then moved on to wooden sculptures of a larger scale, but liked the challenge of extremely small works. After experimenting with everything from chalk to soap to tree bark, Ghetti settled on graphite as his medium of choice. Without the assistance of a magnifying glass, Ghetti makes his pencil tip sculptures using just a razor blade, sculpting knife, and sewing needle. “I use the sewing needle to make holes or dig into the graphite. I scratch and create lines and turn the graphite around slowly in my hand. Also, I never buy the pencils, my friends are always giving me them to sculpt or sometimes I use ones I find in the street,” he explains.

As would be expected, Ghetti does face the inevitable problem of the pencil tips breaking. They are, after all, fragile materials to work with! Most of his sculptures take several months to complete, and some of the more intricate several years, but Ghetti keeps all of the pieces that break during that process, displaying them atop styrofoam blocks, a tribute to the patience and time devoted to each, and the life he once breathed into them.

To date Ghetti has carved about 100 sculptures, as well as maintaining a ten-year project he began in 2002 that was inspired by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center: “When September 11 happened I was in tears all day and couldn’t do much for a while. I decided to make a teardrop pencil carving for each of the people who died in the attack, about 3,000. Since 2002 I have carved one every day, it takes me under an hour. When I’m done they will form one big tear drop. It will take me about 10 years but it will be worth it.”

For your viewing pleasure, these pencil tip sculptures are paired with Michael Gessner‘s “The Keys of Paris,” an original poem published on

“The lovers write their names on locks

then fasten them to the black chain-link fence

on both sides of the Pont des Arts,

that wooden footbridge over the Seine.

There are rows & rows of lovers’ locks,

the chromium latches glint in the sun,

& the lovers, in a grand gesture of fidelity,

toss their keys into the river, & depart.

The keys lay on the bottom, sometimes turning

in the wreathes of the current, or they may remain

still for years, or they may roll,

crossing over one another.”

Poems of Michael Gessner have appeared in Amaranth ReviewAmerican Literary ReviewChiron ReviewThe Journal of the American Medical AssociationNimrodOxford MagazinePacific ReviewPatterson Literary ReviewSycamore Review,Wisconsin Review, and others.  Poems that appeared in his fourth title, Beast Book, (Blazevox, 2010) have been described as “lively and smart and musical,” (Robert Pinsky.)


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