David Keefe, Senior Assistant Dean of Student Veteran Initiatives, guided staff writer Tamara Barriot through the steps to create her own sheet of paper. On Friday the 14th, you can check out the exhibition of combat paper in the LeRoy Neiman Art Gallery.
The paper recycling process is pretty standard world-wide, pulp is extracted from paper, mixed with water and chemicals to be then re-assembled into a new sheet. Keefe and his team use this technique to create their own paper; however, they replace the paper with combat uniforms.
The uniforms are cut into pieces, which are in turn fed to a machine that breaks them down using blades. The result is a greyish water filled with minuscule pieces of polyester fabric.
Here is where Keefe lets me begin. I submerge a screen, held straight by a wooden frame, into the water mix. The polyester quickly assembles in its surface, creating an opaque sheet. We remove it from the screens by turning it over, laying it on top of waxed paper.
I choose a design of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man to “print” on my sheet. I place the porous slide over the still wet paper and spray it with a mix of dyed-watered-down cotton particles. The result seems impressive, in a couple of days it should be dry and it will make a pretty decoration. It seems quite magical how uniforms that have traveled the world serving our Nation are transformed into this simple grey-ish paper.
Be sure to attend the poem reading and exhibition this Friday 14th at Leroy Neiman Gallery, to learn more about combat paper and a chance to see these beautiful pieces of art.