In high school, Sachin Sanghe was often called to the front of class to write notes on the blackboard as a teacher dictated them. Other students would copy these notes off the blackboard. He also used to write headlines on the school notice board – an activity he quite enjoyed.
It was during this time that he formed an "attachment" with a material synonymous with Indian schools – the humble chalk. So much so, that it has now become his canvas for his art.
For nearly 15 years now, Sachin has been making micro-sculptures using pieces of chalk, an art form he has labelled 'Chalkruthi'. In the last few years, he's also made micro-figures of noted personalities and monuments using lead.
Based in Bengaluru, 28-year-old Sachin hails from Mudugere, around 80 km away from the capital city. By day, he is a software engineer and, at night, he transforms into an artist.
With no formal training in sculpting, Sachin's has been a self-taught journey, where he has had to learn through trial and error.
"In school, I always had dividers, a compass, a sharpener and also safety pins in my geometry box. I gradually started carving letters and then names, and would gift it to friends and relatives," he recollects.
"There was no Google at the time, nor had I seen anyone making micro-sculptures then. I had to start from scratch," he says.
From alphabets, the budding artist moved on to making faces on bits of chalk placed together. However, once he joined an engineering college, his academic commitments increased and his interests took a backseat for four long years.
Upon graduating, once he got a job, he decided to pursue his hobby again.
"I took up a job in Chennai and I had a lot of free time, especially on weekends. I had always wanted to do a face sculpture on a single piece of chalk, and I began by carving a miniature of Mahavira, the last Jain Tirthankara. It was in 2011. I have not looked back since," he says.
Around five years ago, Sachin also started sculpting lead to create miniature art forms.
"Both chalk and lead have their own pros and cons. Chalk is smooth, brittle and powdery. But there is room for some detailing. Lead, however, is the opposite. There is no room for detailing, but it is not as brittle as chalk. It is harder," Sachin explains.
He has made more than 200 miniature sculptures till now – the time he takes on each sculpture depends on how complex the design is. While the simpler ones could take anywhere between five and six hours, those requiring heavy detailing can take as long as 120 to 130 hours.
His craft has also given him the opportunity to meet the people he looks up to, apart from the appreciation he has received from people far and wide.
On January 3, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, a meeting he describes as a "dream come true".
"I gifted him eight chalk sculptures, including one where the PM is taking blessings from his mother. The sculptures also depicted several yoga poses. He was very impressed," he said.
A few days ago, he presented his work to President Ram Nath Kovind in Bengaluru.
In 2013, he had met his idol, former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, during an IPL match in Hyderabad.
Sachin says he does get requests to make sculptures and, once in a while, he will also accept an order if time permits. "But I don't have enough time to do this commercially. I am trying to improve my scale. And if I can deliver an order, I take it," he says.
As he signs off, he says while he hasn't chalked out concrete plans for the future, he is optimistic about it. "When I started out, it was just so that I could kill some time. Never had I thought that I'd come this far. I'll continue pursuing my passion. Let's see where it takes me."