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More About the Workshops|
On the first morning, participants gather together in a safe place for introductions; to the facilitators, to each other and the process. They are encouraged to bring with them their military uniform or other article of clothing which has personal significance. That afternoon, participants begin "liberating rag", the systematic deconstruction and cutting up their uniforms for pulping, and sharing personal stories and memories of their time in service. Some stories are funny, some are heart wrenching. Some stories have never been shared before. All are sincere and help forge a collective bond within the group.|
On the second day, veterans participate in a text and image workshop, merging creative writing and mono printmaking techniques. Throughout the exercises, stories continue to be shared, often becoming more personal and significant.
Production papermaking happens on the third day. Participants are shown how to form sheets of paper from their pulped uniforms using a mould and deckle. They have the opportunity to experiment with pulp printing, using silk screen stencils and colored over-beaten cotton fibers. They are also exposed to pulp painting, a process of using paper pulp to create an image or scene using raw paper pulp.
Day four is devoted to using the dried combat paper sheets for books, journals or a surface for traditional printing. We provide a workshop on basic bookbinding techniques and offer exercises in journaling and mono printing. Participants often create a personal journal made from their pulped uniform and experiment with printing their written words and images on their freshly made combat paper. If there is time and interest, participants might collaborate on group projects, using their newly acquired skills.
The final day is devoted to wrapping up ongoing projects and introducing participants to resources within their community. There is often a "small exhibition" of participants' work produced during the workshop and a public presentation which includes a sharing personal stories and reflections on the workshop process with the community. Both facilitators and workshop participants are encouraged to join in the public presentation.
While there is no 'perfect' size to the workshop group, a small group approach encourages trust and emotional safety, and permits significant interaction among the participants and facilitators. Work is often done one-on-one, allowing for quality instruction of papermaking techniques and the sharing of personal experiences. A significant bond is often formed among participants. No two workshops are the same; each is a unique experience for the facilitators and participants.
The workshops have several goals....
Over the course of five days, participants are able to create several pieces of personally cathartic works of paper art. While we realize individuals are necessarily at different points in their lives, the work created may represent the first time they have been able to articulate their personal story. And the skills taught may serve as a vehicle for individuals to further share their experience, with their family, with their community.
Secondly, the emotional safety and sharing of personal stories with a small group of people with similar experiences encourages personal introspection and perspective and enhances a feeling of personal pride and responsibility.
We realize that there is no single right way to express our creativity or to tell our personal story. So we introduce several artistic tools, based on hand papermaking techniques, that we hope will find resonance within each participant and further spark their interest and permit them their personal voice.
The public exhibition and presentation at the conclusion of the workshop provides a further opportunity for individuals to tell their personal story and encourage an open dialog about the human costs of war and personal trauma. We hope to motivate the public discussion about the responsibilties of our society toward our veterans and the role our veterans play within their own community.
And finally, we wish to leave participants with information about resources that may be of help to them after we have gone. About papermaking and the creative arts resources, certainly, but also suggestions and information about people and organizations that may be of assistance to veterans specifically.
If you wish to host a workshop, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on how you can participate in the Combat Paper Project. We'd be glad to discuss with you how our workshop or visit can meet your specific program needs. We're organizing a workshop and lecture tour through the Pacific Northwest for the spring of 2011.