Veterans. Uniforms. Scissors. Paper-making. Craft. Art. Transformation.
November 27, 2018 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Imagine shredding your combat uniform. Or the dress you wore to your son's funeral after his death in war. Imagine the fibers dissolving into a slurry, ground to pulp in a bath of equal parts water and memory. Be with student veterans as they turn the fabric of their military past into paper, into art, and into a kind of peace (YT, 17 minutes). And then join me below the fold for more about the Peace Paper Project and its Veteran Paper Workshop.

Master Papermaker Drew Matott, on the genesis of the Combat Paper Project:
When I first learned to make paper, I really fell in love with all the transformative processes. I went into my closet and I pulled out my old shirts and started cutting them up. Then I started printing on them and using them to create a layer of personal content. My father had passed away. So I took his clothing and I pulped it, and I printed text that he had written and made a book of his poetry integrated with some of the images of him... With paper I allowed the transformative qualities of the process to give me room to explore and express myself, to dictate what was going to be said."
Veteran and fellow paper-maker Drew Cameron: "[T]o transform the uniform into paper, to remake it, to change all previous relationships to it into your own, and to change your relationship to the memories brought up by it—how you were treated, the things that you’ve done or seen or done to others—that’s what Combat Paper is interested in.

The project in the press:
* Art has therapeutic qualities. This organization uses it to tell veterans’ stories, Miami Herald
* Once uniforms, they are now works of art, New York Times
* From the Studio: Peace Paper Project, KPBX, Spokane Public Radio segment

Matott's traveling paper workshops depend on one indispensable piece of gear: the Oracle Hollander Beater (.pdf; more about it here), which allows him to travel with the means of pulping local materials.

He has been all over the world with his portable studio, re-shaping worn out clothing into paper in Germany (FB), teaching refugee children to make paper in Turkey, and working with women in Mumbai, India to strengthen their small business, to mention just a few of his projects.

From rags, flags, and uniforms in shreds to therapeutic art, and to the transformation of lives: from pieces to paper to peace.
posted by MonkeyToes (3 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this. I liked the part where one veteran said that some of his experiences in war have a place to reside outside of him now, via the art he created.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 7:34 PM on November 27, 2018 [5 favorites]

Quilts from Military Fabrics, in a similar vein.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:41 PM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love this kind of adaptive/improved reuse: the item's story doesn't end, but changes.

When I was a kid, I found a heavy tweed overcoat that my dad had bought when he was first in college. It was brown, and quite unfashionable, and I wore it everywhere for years. I missed it, but eventually it got pretty beat.

Many years later, my mom had it made into a braided rug by the mother of one of my friends. That rug sits beside my bed and now I see it every morning and night.

Those garments had served well, and now they have transitioned into a whole other form, with a brand new lease on life. I remember the coat fondly, but I couldn't wear it anymore; the rug will be with me for many more years.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:21 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

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