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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
American Folk Art Museum
The Civil War
The Outsider Art Pages
Folk Art in Bottles
Index of American Design
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Trench Art
Source: Google News
Kovels: Don't toss old toys before checking valueWinston-Salem Journal, May 21st
Answer: 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
Ian Potter Centre Opens FOLLOW THE FLAG Australian Art Exhibit TodayBroadway World, April 23rd
of the Australian soldier; Grace Cossington Smith's 1915 painting, The sock knitter, which has come to symbolise Australian women's contribution to the war effort, which included knitting more than 1.3 million pairs of socks; and priceless 'trench...Read more
Trench Art: Museum exhibit showcases art made during wartimeNewsbug.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 fundBallymoney 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 fireSydney 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
'Trench art' displayed ahead of Remembrance DayRoyal 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