GAZA, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Few would pay more than scant attention to a pencil lead. But for Firas Abu Zour, a 19-year-old Palestinian artist, it becomes a good way to demonstrate his artistic talent and craftsmanship.
Abu Zour, a law student at the Al-Azhar University in Gaza Strip, can carve breathtaking mini sculptures out of a pencil lead, including figures, logos, iconic buildings and even a map of Palestine.
"For the majority of people, a pencil is a writing tool, but for me it is a piece of art," Abu Zour told Xinhua in an interview.
Abu Zour has been practicing this unique kind of art for two years.
Without receiving any training, he was inspired by Russian artist Salavat Fidai, who is considered to the most famous artist in this field.
"I'm completely self-taught and I never had training anywhere," Abu Zour said.
He explained that he once saw Fidai's sculptures online and really liked the art. So he started to learn the techniques from the Russian artist's videos on Youtube.
Abu Zour said that he started with sculpting on chalk fingers because of their larger size, before gaining the ability to carve on a pencil lead.
The young man, who is considered the first Palestinian to practice this kind of art, said this art requires much patience and steady nerves.
With much concentration, Abu Zour can carve miniature figures out of pencil graphite, turning pencil leads into fine art works.
His micro-sculptures have featured items representing love, peace, homeland and many world famous iconic buildings, including the Big Ben clock tower in London.
One of his most loved works is a key for the return of the displaced Palestinian refugees due to the conflict with Israel.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in Palestinian territories in 1948, when the state of Israel was established. The Palestinians have desired for their return to homeland once a peace deal is reached with Israel.
Abu Zour's work is not easy, as it requires great precision and concentration. He also suffers from many difficulties, most notably the recurrent power outages in the Gaza Strip which has suffered from a blockade by Israel and the Palestinian Authority since the Hamas took over the enclave in 4007.
The young man complained of lacking a magnifying glass to facilitate his work, especially in making some sculptures, such as faces, require a magnifying glass to shape small details such as eyes, eyelashes and facial wrinkles.
It usually takes Abu Zour one to four hours to carve a single miniature piece. It sometimes takes longer, depending on the details of the work.
He said the most difficult part of his work is the that pencils can be often broken while carving.
"But even if it does, I can recreate another sculpture out of the broken pencil," he said.
Abu Zour has now about 40 carved pencil tips in collection. He uses charcoal pencils, wood pencils used by school students, as well as some colored wooden pencils.
He is always encouraged by his family and friends who help him promote his work through social networking platforms, where his art works are highly admired.
Abu Zour aspires to participate in international exhibitions to showcase his talent. He is striving to own the largest number of artistic sculptures on pencil leads in order to demonstrate the evolution of his mastery of this unique art.