Dalton began learning how to handle tools at the young age of 6 when at school in Brazil, he and the other students used either a razor blade or a pocket knife to sharpen their pencils for drawing and writing.
Also, his mother was a seamstress. When Dalton was 8 years old, she taught him how to use a sewing needle to help her with simple projects like hemming and sewing buttons. At the age of 9, his parents gave him a set of metal tools for children, which he used to make his own boxes, toys and go-carts. This is also the age when he began sculpting with knives, chisels and a hammer. Ever since, he has created many objects out of all kinds of materials.
At first, he carved large objects; but in 1986, as a challenge to himself and because of his interest in small living things, like plants (moss) and insects (spiders and ants), he decided to create the smallest possible carvings that he could see with his naked eyes. One day, he picked up a working pencil and started carving it.
His idea is to bring people’s attention to small things. Small is beautiful. Most of the pencils he uses are found on the streets and sidewalks. Dalton’s work is a recycling process. He turns discarded objects into art.
To create his sculpture, he holds the pencil in his hand under a strong light source (table lamp or sunlight) and carves it mostly with a sewing needle and a very sharp, triangular, small, metal blade. He works at very small intervals: 1 to 2 hours maximum per day whenever he gets inspired. He works very slowly by removing specks of graphite at a time. It therefore takes months or sometimes years to complete a sculpture.
For Dalton, sculpting pencils is a hobby and a form of meditation, which requires a lot of patience. His pencil carvings are not for sale. He doesn’t do it for money. He sculpts pencils mostly for himself and his art comes from his heart. He wants to keep it that way.
Currently exhibiting at theVictoria and Albert Museum (until June 2nd, 2012) and at the New Britain Museum of American Art.