Pietro Martello has spent all his life in
the footwear industry. He was born on the Brenta Riviera, near Venice in northern Italy,
and became apprenticed to a shoe manufacturer at the age of eight. As soon as he mastered
the basic techniques he ran his own business and became an indipendent artisan.
Among his other clients he created shoes also for Mr. Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the
well known italian dream cars.
It was during this period that he developed his specialised manual ability in handling the
traditional tools of his trade. He began to create the miniature shoes, entirely handsewn,
as a hobby. Over the last 40 years Pietro has pursued his hobby of making miniature shoes,
starting from small wooden moulds which he carves himself and which he uses to mount the
components using the same process as in normal shoemaking. Now at the age of over 60, it
is his full-time occupation. He does not want to sell what he creates, nor to repeat any
model - although requested hundreds of times - but simply makes them for the joy of
creation. This is how he has put together his one of a kind collection, which is at
present time composed by over 700 different pieces.
Richard Khoury is a photographer specialized in industry, architecture and art photography. He
met Pietro by chance in 1991, while he was taking photos for a book about shoemaking.
At that time Pietro was known for his peculiar activity only locally, and
exclusively among shoemakers.
He used to keep his miniatures at home, some of them randomly displayed around, most of
them closed into drawers and old shoe boxes. Richard was fascinated by Pietro's tiny
masterpieces, so he decided to work on them, out of any consignement, but simply for the
joy of creation.
Small Steps is the name of the project started some time later from this creative encounter.
It happened that Richard had the opportunity to set up a personal photo exhibition with
those photos, and took that occasion to let Pietro show his collection to the public. He
was also intrigued by the relationship between the objects seen in their reality and the
illusory image of reality given by the photos.
That was 1992 in Treviso, Italy, the first "Piccoli Passi" (Small
Steps) exhibit: an immediate success. People loved it.
Since that time Pietro and Richard showed their creations in several occasions, locally
and abroad, and the Small Steps exhibition is now famous around the world.