Combat Paper Workshop re-purposes memories
Drew Cameron knew about paper-making as a boy, but it wasn’t until he returned from a nine-month deployment as a field artillery soldier in Iraq in 2004 that he rediscovered the process that would become a new media of self-expression, self-exploration and fun.
“I tried to keep down the expressive side and approach (pulping my uniform) technically,” Cameron said. “It changed when people started asking about it.”
Cameron’s process of paper-making is a little unique — a veteran’s uniform, not wood, is the source material of the pulp.
Cameron said he couldn’t be a craftsman with his “head buried” in his work and began to reflect on the process. A decade later, he focuses on every aspect: the material used, its size, the water it’s pulped in and the location.
The process isn’t set in stone.
“I want (others) to figure it out for themselves,” Cameron said. “Whenever someone brings their own ownership, that’s really important. I learn from that — from them.”
This inspired Cameron to come up with the Combat Paper Workshop, an event which has since been held in 29 states and six counties. The Houston Printing Museum hosted the Combat Paper Workshop on Feb. 13 and 14.
Cameron demonstrates the paper-making process to participants and encourages them to help each other. Cameron said someone becomes a paper-making “master” when they teach and encourage each other.
“That’s what’s great about it,” Cameron said. “I’ve given a simple block of information and people are running with it, having fun.”
Biology sophomore Kayla Fischer said she learned quickly and was able to teach her friends.
“I don’t feel like a master,” Fischer said. “I’m definitely just a beginner that still has a lot to learn.”
Fischer came with friends Sarah Merrit, sociology and political science senior, and Kasey Casis, biology senior. Fischer said she used T-shirts she found lying around and Merrit brought in a T-shirt that belonged to her deceased father.
Both started working on their prints on Feb. 13.
“It was so cool to have pieces that still meant something to me in a different form, and to teach other people,” Merrit said. “That was probably my favorite part.”
Casis said she joined in out of curiosity.
“I got a lot out of the 30 minutes,” Casis said.
While Casis gets 30 minutes, Cameron has dedicated his life to paper-making. He said he can’t count the number of workshops he’s done in the last year, but estimates close to 20.
Cameron even spends special occasions paper-making; his birthday is Feb. 14.
“It was a timing thing, in order to be here when this exhibition is open,” Cameron said. “If I were not here, I would be making paper at my studio.”
Cameron said he doesn’t see himself stopping.
“The greatest thing an artist can ask for is that their work is relevant to someone else,” Cameron said. “That’s why I keep doing it.”
For more information about Cameron and the Combat Paper Workshop, visit combatpaper.org/index.html.