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

William Penn and America's Lost History
Breitbart News, September 4th

Dave said he had to close his shop outside of Kennett Square several years ago because he couldn't sell enough items to pay his one employee, let alone other fixed costs. One item he specifically mentioned was trench art. He said at one time trench art...Read more

Try Tibetan food as you listen to Ugandan music
Oxford Mail, September 4th

She said: “You can visit our face painters and have a museum makeover, weave a cordage accessory with Oxfordshire Basket Makers and the Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum, or explore First World War trench art and make a 'trench bug' with the Soldiers...Read more

Wood often neglected medium in art
Tyler Morning Telegraph, September 1st

n Trench art, paperweight, artillery shell, mounted on stepped base, patinated relief spelter, c. 1918, 2 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches, $275. n Stand, elephant foot, wood top, 7 3/4 x 8 x 8 inches, pair, $305. n Flag, American, 40-star, parade, glazed...Read more

From bed to gallery: are quilts art?
ArtsHub (subscription), August 31st

'As a form of 'Trench Art', these rare and surprisingly beautiful artefacts were made by soldiers during protracted lulls in the fighting, while recuperating from war wounds or else when interred in prisoner-of-war camps,' explained Dr. Annette Gero...Read more

Artists no longer neglecting wood
Columbus Dispatch, August 30th

Trench art, paperweight, artillery shell, mounted on stepped base, patinated relief spelter, 1918, 23/4 by 51/2 by 41/4 inches, $275. • Flag, American, 40-star, parade, glazed cotton muslin, inscribed Dr. Crawford, printed, hand-stitched elements, 1889...Read more

Lifelike wooden sculptures
Observer-Reporter, August 29th

Clarice Cliff pottery vase, Bizarre shape, My Garden, painted, yellow, multicolor flowers, 5 x 3 1/2 inches, $120. • Royal Bayreuth pitcher, figural, lobster shape, painted, green handle, blue mark, 1900s, 7 inches, $230. • Trench art, paperweight...Read more

Wood carvings grow in popularity, collectibility
Winston-Salem Journal, August 27th

Trench art, paperweight, artillery shell, mounted on stepped base, patinated relief spelter, c. 1918, 2¾ x 5½ x 4¼ inches, $275. Flag, American, 40-star, parade, glazed cotton muslin, inscribed Dr. Crawford, printed, hand-stitched elements, 1889, 84 x...Read more

County Durham woman amasses trench art collection over 30 years
ChronicleLive, July 14th

For a project which aims to track down First World War trench art in the North East, Judy Sunter's home is the perfect place to start. Judy, who lives near Stanley in County Durham, has amassed a collection of more than 600 pieces of trench art, much...Read more