The Minute Pencil Lead Carvings of Diem Chau

On Fawn Review we’ve seen a lot of what great artists can do with their tools but it takes an altogether different kind of creative mind to make their mark through what they do to their tools.


For Diem Chau the tools of her trade are not merely a means to an end in her work but the very foundations of it. Take a lot at her series for an exhibition opening today in Chicago. Her drawing tool becomes her carving block, as she carves minute creatures out of the lead tip of a pencil. All the while remaining in tact, unsnapped, a top of the pencil.



She says of the work, “This series of pencil carvings focuses on the disappearance and extinction of life on earth…They might be as small as microbes or as big as whales and elephants, but I will be the last to see them.  It’s a melancholy thought.  I wanted to capture this feeling and the fragile balance that exists in nature”.


This idea is beautifully expressed through pencil lead. Whilst the pencil has the potential to create beauty, used too harshly is it only ever a finger tip’s pressure away from snapping; it has all the fragility of nature but also the same potential power to foster beauty, if only handled with care.

You can see Chau’s work on display at the Packer Schopf Gallery from today until 18th May.

What do you think of Chau’s mini sculptures and their message? Have you come across any other artists who use the tools of their so prominently in the final work? Add your comments below or click here to do so via the Facebook page.