Strictly speaking, trench art is a phrase that describes folk art created by soldiers who were stuck in the trenches during World War I. But trench art as a more broadly defined genre includes all sorts of art objects made during numerous military conflicts going back to the early 1800s, including items produced by prisoners of war.

Leaving aside the question of era, there are several generally accepted categories of trench art. Some of the earliest examples are wooden boxes made by French prisoners captured by the English during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

By World War I, prisoners on both sides of that struggle were engraving and carving everything from spent shell casings to soup bones, transforming them into poignant mementos and useful historical records of the war to end all wars. Some pieces are particular to certain battle zones. For example, Turkish prisoners were known for their beaded snakes.

Those soldiers who did not have the time or tools to engrave spent artillery shells in the trenches often brought them home, where they would be embossed, fluted, and flared. Engravings on canteens and mess kits were probably done in the field, as were paintings on helmets.

Other examples of trench art include letter openers and knives made from bullets and shells; presentation plates hammered and engraved from flattened casings; lighters formed out of enemy belt buckles; and inkwells carefully crafted from fuse caps.

Soldiers recovering from their wounds also made trench art, usually in the form of embroidered badges and belts. Similar pieces made by wives and girlfriends waiting for their loved ones to return home are also considered trench art.


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Recent News: Trench Art

Source: Google News

Upcoming events at the Canadian War Museum
Ottawa Citizen, January 30th

Examine pieces of shrapnel and barbed wire recovered from Belgian fields during the “Iron Harvest” and explore a collection of trench art produced and kept as souvenirs of the First World War. Canada presents equipment to Ghana's military Members of...Read more

School exhibition commemorates centenary of World War One
Connaught Telegraph, January 28th

It features a recruitment station with propaganda posters and a soldier's kit, French, German and British helmets, medals, trench art, letters and the personal stories that connect the school to the battlefields of World War One. Of special interest...Read more

The humour and romance from the dark days of war in Southam exhibition
Leamington Courier, January 13th

Also part of the display is what is known as Trench Art – where troops fashioned things such as military ware into art – are two old shell casings with poppy decorations that were passed on to Mr Cadogan's wife Jill by her family. He said: “They've...Read more

Injured soldier's own thigh bone used for First World War 'trench art'
ITV News, December 11th

Injured soldier's own thigh bone used for First World War 'trench art'. A brooch crafted from a piece of human thigh bone is among the items selected for an exhibition about the First World War at the University of Leeds. Share · Tweet · Plus · Reddit...Read more

'Trench art' displayed ahead of Remembrance Day
Royal Gazette, October 27th

Emblems of respect for soldiers who lost their lives in war, some 12,000 remembrance poppies have been brought to the Island by the Bermuda Legion — and they will be given out, starting this Saturday, in the buildup to Remembrance Day on November 11...Read more

Coal scuttle trench art
The Bolton News, September 24th

THIS fascinating piece of World War One trench art belongs to Michael McEwing. The miniature coal scuttle is made from a shell found at Ypres during one of the major battles of the Great War and was created by G Marks as the inscription on the top...Read more

Art in the Trenches
GOOD Magazine, September 13th

In an interview with ArtInfo, Durant explains what exactly Trench Art is, and how he has made a few pieces of his own to place next to the actual examples he's found over the years: "The use of 'Trench Art' functions as a reminder of the inextricable...Read more

First World War soldier's son "overwhelmed" to receive his trench art
Your Local Guardian, August 19th

Almost a century after it was created, a piece of trench art made by a soldier during the First World War has finally been presented to his son. Corporal Ernest Turtle, from the Royal Engineers, crafted a guard house from the case of a German shell...Read more