COMBAT PAPER transforms military uniforms into handmade paper. We believe in this simple yet enduring premise that the plant fiber in rags can be transformed into paper. A uniform worn through military service carries with it stories and experiences that are deeply imbued in the woven threads. Creating paper and artwork from these fibers carries these same qualities. We have found that all of us are connected to the military in a myriad of ways. When these connections are discovered and shared it can open a deeper understanding between people and expand our collective beliefs about military service and war.
From the outset we have hosted open and ongoing workshops that facilitate the papermaking process and welcome the use of personal material for papermaking. The exchange between veterans and civilians is integral in our practice. A forum with its foundations in a collaborative art making process, we know that accentuating individual and group perspectives strengthens the workshops and allows for direct participation and engagement. Open community involvement is an active element for us, and working together is an asset. By creating paper together we both develop our own language in the art form and perpetuate an ancient craft.
The workshops have been well received across the country allowing us the support and flexibility to develop the scope of our work. We have maintained a collaborative atmosphere with an evolving group of facilitators, supporters, advocates and hosts. Currently we have four paper mill locations that are facilitating workshop programming with our mobile papermaking mills. In the studio we are producing editions of books, portfolios, large-scale paper sheet formation, sculptures, installations, individualized paper recipes, portraits and prints using an innovative paper printing technique.
Western hand papermaking is a PROCESS in which plant based fibers used in textiles are repurposed for paper. The textile is reduced into small pieces and beaten into a pulp with a machine called a Hollander Beater. The rendered pulp is used to form sheets of paper one at a time by hand, pressed and then dried. These sheets are the foundation of what can become further activation of the paper by creating prints, journals, books or a one of a kind piece of artwork. The technique of using discarded textiles is an ancient practice that has its beginnings nearly two thousand years ago.
Today, we can blend contemporary printing techniques with traditional papermaking. Pulp printing is a wet process that allows freshly formed sheets of paper to be instantaneously rendered with colorful imagery derived from a finely beaten pulp sprayed through a stencil, fusing the image and sheet in this versatile and approachable method. Much of Combat Paper artwork both in workshops and the studio have been produced using pulp prints. Watch the entire process below:
Combat Paper WORKSHOPS are a space to directly engage with the process of taking military uniforms and transforming them into handmade paper. Maintaining an open and accessible atmosphere is a founding principle that we continue with today. The workshop welcomes people to bring in their own material into the process. We also provide donated uniforms from veterans and their families to share.
Workshops are modeled to best fit the setting and group dynamic, skill set of the participants and amount of time available. This can occur from a studio session in an afternoon, a short interactive demonstration with a visiting group, an open enrollment public event, more technically involved tutorials to an intensive curriculum that engages a cohort over several days. Learn about the CSU Summer Arts Course here. The design of the experience is meant to be adaptable to site conditions and have occurred across the country from college and universities to military sites and hospitals, museums and libraries to galleries and outdoor spaces, art centers and community events.
All of our workshops are inherently unique and developed in collaboration in order to form a meaningful and appropriate program. It is our intent to share this process and allow others to find their own agency and approach as well. Workshops are occurring across the country throughout the year. Please contact us for more information, ideas on collaborating, donations of uniforms for upcoming events and how you can support. Our upcoming workshops can be found under the events page.