Chinn one of 55 artists in book
“People don’t think it’s a pencil. They are in disbelief,” artist Cindy Chinn said about her intricate carvings that have sold worldwide with one of them in a Florida Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.
She is quoted in “Creative Extremes,” a German-English coffee table book that highlights 55 of the most extreme artists in the world.
Chinn explained the artists, herself included, work on extremely small, big or colorful pieces and while she has been published in a variety of magazines around the world, she is honored to be in the book.
“It’s a huge honor,” she said.
Chinn is one of three top pencil carvers around the globe. She and the other two from Russia and Brazil will showcase their work at an Arizona museum in February.
Pencil carving is like working with dust, Chinn said.
“It is a very slow process,” she said about carving the graphite of carpenter pencils. “Graphite is not dense. You can breathe on it and break it.”
She makes her own tools for carving.
“If you look at them, they look like a needle, but under a microscope, they have a flat edge, chiseled edge or hook,” she said.
Chinn uses a 90x diopter microscope to see the detail as she carves.
The legs on her carved elephants are as thin as a sewing needle.
Her pieces tell a story and Chinn has carved herself a niche in trains.
She said the trains are popular — she has sold about 30. In her animal collection is a chocolate bunny flanked by the actual foil from a chocolate Easter egg.
“Most of these are people’s pets,” she said about the pet portrait series of dogs.
In the book, Chinn said she has always been intrigued in miniatures and she is detail-oriented in her work, enough to “push the limits.”
“Carving a pencil lead is the perfect medium for that part of my creative mind,” she was quoted in the book.
Chinn became interested in pencil carving a couple of years ago and she is into repurposing items for her art, hence, the discarded carpenter pencils for carving.
“Most of my work is recycled,” she said. Around the studio, a cut snow shovel shows a winter scene, stained glass that lights up sits in a carved church pew and a coffee table made from a barrel ring, farming equipment disc, old wrenches and trowels, tells time.
“I added lights to it and used license plates for the numbers,” she said. “I wanted to make a clock coffee table.”
Outside the studio, another studio has shelves of rusty supplies for her repurposed artwork, and is the spot where Chinn does her sandblasting and polishing.
Currently, she is gearing up for the cut, decorative saws she will need completed for the Christmas season. Back to the disbelief in carving miniatures out of graphite, Chinn said people want to be convinced she carved something so small with her own hands. It is the way she sees art changing the world — like a pet portrait series carved from carpenter pencil lead can do, for example.
“They are able to see differently in a way they may have never imagined. You will never see a pencil again without thinking about what it could be.”