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Bridgeport Artist Makes His Point With Pencils

Dalton Ghetti of Bridgeport creates unique art out of pencils. Photo Credit: Sloan T. Howard Photography/Facebook
Dalton Ghetti talks to people at the unveiling of his 9/11 exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Photo Credit: Sloan T. Howard Photography/Facebook
Dalton Ghetti displays his teardrop, made in remembrance of 9/11. Photo Credit: Sloan T. Howard Photography/Facebook
Guests peer in for a close view of Dalton Ghetti's work at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Photo Credit: Sloan T. Howard Photography/Facebook

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Dalton Ghetti’s career as a micro-artist did not start with aspirations to showcase his work at exhibits. While that’s the way it has evolved for the Bridgeport carpenter and home remodeler, his creativity was an extension of his upbringing in Brazil.

  • Who : Dalton Ghetti of Bridgeport
  • What : A micro-artist, he creates pieces by carving pencils with a razor blade and sewing needle
  • More info: On his website

What makes Ghetti's work unique is that he creates art pieces out of pencils. His most prominent piece is connected to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and is on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art. The piece includes 3,000 tiny teardrops — one for nearly every victim in the disaster — inset into one large teardrop. Ghetti worked on the project daily for 10 years, making one tear drop each day.

“That was a hard one,’’ Ghetti said. “I didn’t know if I could finish it.”

Using nothing more than pencils, a razor blade, and a sewing needle, Ghetti carves out pieces such as a church, giraffe, pumpkin, cafe and even a rose. Click here to visit Ghetti’s website to see a collection of his work.

Growing up in Sao Paulo, Ghetti learned to work with his hands from a young age. “Every student in Brazil had a razor blade or a small pocket knife,’’ he said. “I’ve never used a pencil sharpener in my life. I learned how to sharpen my crayons with a razor blade, how to push it so that you don’t cut yourself. Razor blades were a standard item in our school bag.”

Ghetti’s parents gradually gave him larger tools to use. He made boxes out of wood, go-carts and toy cars. He found a broom in his parent’s house and started carving it. “My mom would get upset,’’ Ghetti said. “If it was wood, I was making scratches on it.”

Ghetti soon focused on creating smaller objects. He liked the challenge, and he came across the phrase “nanotechnology.”

“I thought that’s a nice word,’’ Ghetti said. “Nano means extremely small, and at that time, television screens and computers were big. It inspired me to do really small things.”

A friend sponsored Ghetti’s move to the United States in 1985 when he was 24. He lived originally in lower Westchester County and didn’t know any English. He immersed himself in classes in New Rochelle and Pelham and earned a GED. He continued his education at Norwalk Community College to study graphic design and architecture.

“I was involved with the language the culture and kept wanting to do more,’’ Ghetti said.

He found jobs in construction in Stamford and spent much of his income visiting museums in New York. “Life in Brazil was not easy,’’ Ghetti said. “It would take me about 10 years to make the money I was making. Most of the money I made here I spent here, traveling every weekend into New York City.”

Ghetti can’t remember his first miniature artistic piece but does remember making “Cheers,” a hand holding a chalice, about 30 years ago. “It’s a hobby, but it’s also meditation,’’ Ghetti said. “It’s small stuff that requires a lot of focus and attention. It’s a difference state of mind. It’s almost like a trance. I get so focused on it, nothing else matters.”

Ghetti said the process starts with an idea he can find anywhere. “Sometimes when I’m walking around, hiking, whatever catches my attention,’’ he said. “I put a sketch on a piece of paper, or sometimes I’ll just write a word and then start with a draw. I try to visualize what I want to do on a large scale.”

Ghetti carves on pencils he finds or some that already has in his studio. He makes some rough cuts, removes the wood from the pencil and exposes the graphite. Then he’ll start carving.

“Most of my pieces take months, sometimes years,’’ Ghetti said. “It’s not something I’m inspired to do every day. Sometimes I have all the time in the world, and don’t even look at a pencil. Sometimes I’m working and get inspired, and I’ll work on a piece even though there are a lot of other things I’d like to. It’s an on and off process. The problem with small sculpture is you cannot work for more than an hour, or hour and a half, at a time. It requires a lot of concentration and focus.”

Ghetti’s 9/11 project came about while visiting Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. He watched the towers burn and crumble while visiting there on the day of the attacks. “I had my binoculars and watched the whole thing,’’ he said. “I broke down and cried. I didn’t know anybody. But the idea of a tear drop came to my mind. I wanted to create a tear drop for each person that died.”

He unveiled the work at the New Britain Museum and was touched by the outpouring from people who saw his work. “I thought oh my god, this is serious,’’ Ghetti said. “It touched them emotionally. They were giving me hugs the whole time.”

Ghetti’s artwork has been displayed at several other exhibits. He also sells prints off his website. Exhibits, attention, and money are not the reason, however, Ghetti creates his pieces. It’s his way of expressing himself, a way to find time in a meditative zone where he won’t be disturbed by outside influences.

“I don’t care about being famous,’’ Ghetti said. “What I care about is that I can create something, something I really like, and I’m not doing it for anybody else. Sometimes I’ll to go exhibits where people don’t know me and I’ll see people look at my work and smile. For me, that’s the best.”

For more information, click here to visit his website.

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