Mallikarjuna Reddy, who performed the complicated and challenging feat of carving out tiny chain links in Feb 2005, said receiving a certificate for âthe most chain links carved from a single toothpickâ was an overwhelming experience.
Reddy, who has carved nearly 60,000 carvings on pieces of chalk, said, âinitially, I approached the Guinness authority to set a record in chalk sculpting, but they said that there was no such category and suggested trying it on toothpickâ.
Having mastered the art of sculpting on a brittle matter-like chalk, trying it on wood toothpick was definitely a much more easier task, he said.
âWhile the earlier record holder performed it in 30hours, I just took six hours flat,â he said, adding he actually could carve out 42 such links, but the surrounding murmur of excited onlookers hampered his concentration.
Reddy had long set his eyes on the record, but it took him an entire year to scout for a 66mm long and 2 mm thick toothpick, required by the Guinness authority.
âIn India, the standard size of a toothpick is 66 mm long and 2 mm thick,â he said.
His treasure trove of nearly 2000 odd miniature chalk sculpture all carefully preserved in jewellery boxes, boast of some interesting pieces, including the bust of the President Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as chess pawns and miniature sculptures of gods and goddesses.
A mermaid, a piece dear to his heart and which took him 15 days to carve, however, no longer exist in the collection. âIt broke while someone tried to handle it,â he said.
Using a self-designed needle, which he personally sharpens to ensure that cutting edge, he said, âit is my patience, a deep concentration and of course excellent eyesight that has aided my artâ.
Interestingly, Reddy never uses a magnifying glass while carving, including carving a Ganesh on a single rice grain. His dream project is carving the Taj Mahal and leaning Tower of Pisa on a piece of chalk.
Reddy, hailing from a family of agriculturists, said the hobby developed while sitting on the back benches of a classroom way back in standard three. âToday I spend an entire night doing just this,â he added.
Despite the huge demand for his exquisite carvings, he said, âI will never sell my art for commercial gains, though I have gifted many to those seeking itâ.