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

Fort Walla Walla Museum to host two-day festival June 6-7
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, May 28th

#It features pieces from the Ezra and Pansy Post Collection, such as trench art and postcards associated with the cannon in Fort Walla Walla Park named for Pansy. #Recently added to the Museum collection are items associated with local World War I ...Read more

Wait before you toss toys - they may be worth something
HeraldNet, May 27th

A: This is a form of folk art known as “trench art.” It started during World War I when soldiers in the trenches used metal casings from bullets and mortar shells to make vases, ashtrays, lamps, letter openers, and other objects. Now it's used to...Read more

Truly valuable toys exist in small numbers
Tyler Morning Telegraph, May 25th

A: This is a form of folk art known as “trench art.” It started during World War I when soldiers in the trenches used metal casings from bullets and mortar shells to make vases, ashtrays, lamps, letter openers, and other objects. Now it's used to...Read more

A Camera on Gallipoli & Recollections curator Sam Willis. Picture: Kris Reichl ...
Herald Sun, May 16th

A miner's lamp, a postcard home and trench art are just some of the special mementos loaned to the A Camera on Gallipoli & Recollections exhibition by Banyule community members whose relatives served in World War I. These historic objects, combined ...Read more

Trench Art: Museum exhibit showcases art made during wartime
Newsbug.info, March 17th

This is plain to see through the Vermilion County War Museum's latest exhibit, labeled "Trench Art." The exhibit features various types of artwork from different wars. Some of the pieces were made by U.S. troops during times of war. Vermilion County...Read more

Trench art from Afghanistan helps Bushmills hero fund
Ballymoney and Moyle Times, March 5th

Lance Corporal Chris McKendry had made and sold trench art during his recent tour to Afghanistan and he made the presentation of the money raised and a piece of his trench art to President of the society, local war historian Robert Thompson...Read more

Trench art: a story of grace under fire
Sydney Morning Herald, February 26th

Slade, who's based at the Art Gallery of South Australia, envisioned a marriage between historical trench art and contemporary work, and came up with En-Trenched. The exhibition – supported by the federal government's Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture ...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