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Carving pencil lead into art

Don't judge a book by its cover. This 15-year-old might look like an ordinary school boy but his talents are far-fetched. Meet Apurba Dutta who carves words on a pencil lead and converts it into an amazing piece of art.

Setting an example: Artist Apurba Dutta (photo courtesy: Apurba Dutta)

At 15, when most children of his age were busy spending time in sharpening creative skills, Apurba Dutta spends hours in removing wood around the pencil. He uses the lead to carve words on the lead’s surface. From names to alphabets, this artist has enhanced the humble pencil lead into artworks.

He does not use any fancy materials to carve the lead. His solo companion is a surgical blade that he says, costs him Rs 5-6 and is easily available in the market. But he insists that using a surgical blade isn’t a cakewalk. Apurba insists that it should be carefully handled.

“Working with a surgical blade isn’t easy. It can lead to cuts on hands if not held properly. Beginners often use gloves to avoid getting injury marks on their hands,” he says.

Alphabets being carved on the pencil lead, one of Apurba's art.

Apurba spends 2-3 days to separate the wood from the lead. He works for an hour every day. He blames his school curriculum that does not allow him to dedicate time on art. After the wood separates from the pencil, he carves designs on the lead’s surface.

However, it not a day’s job to make this art. He insists, “One needs perseverance and precision while handling lead. When I started working on lead initially, I could not retain its length, as graphite breaks easily. It is the game of finesse. The more carefully the lead is handled, the better are the results.”

Apurba isn’t a trained artist. He used to previously work as a chalk artist. As a child, the only exposure he had in art was restricted to assignments that he made as part of his curriculum. But two years ago, he stumbled upon Sachin Singh’s videos on YouTube. It was Sachin, who he says, inspired Apurba to pursue this art.

He followed what Sachin was doing. “Initially, I broke lead several times while removing the wood. I also got cuts on my hands. I realised very early that handling lead won’t be easy, but that did not demoralise me,” he says.

His passion towards pencil lead art wasn’t taken so well at home. In fact, his parents and friends dissed his idea. “They thought that I had gone cuckoo. When the first time they saw me removing wood and retaining lead, they felt I was wasting my time. It was much later when I started duplicating my ideas on the lead, they recognised my artistic potential,” he shares.

Apurba aims to pursue pencil art when he grows up. He also aspires to try new art forms and expand his skills.

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