trench art

Decorated Shell Casings - Etched & Engraved

etched trench artacid etched trench artchinese labour corps trench art

Far easier, but usually less effective, is an engraved design.  On the left we have two examples, made in Jerusalem.  One is a straightforward shell case, engraved with Jerusalem and the date of liberation from Ottoman occupation.  Next to it is a more elaborate example, where the shell has been blackened and the design then engraved through this layer so the brass shows the design better against the dark background.  Detailed drawings of key religious sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, along with St George slaying the dragon and, again, commemorating the liberation on 8th December 1917.

In the centre we have another version.  This shell has been acid-etched.  The design to be etched is painted on the shell in wax, leaving the background exposed.  The shell is then dipped in strong acid, that eats away at the background to leave the design around half a millimetre proud of the background.  This way, highly detailed images can be created.

On the right are two shell cases decorated by members of the Chinese Labour Corps, who were responsible for clearing the Western Front battlefields after the war, and thus had plenty of raw material to make their own brand of trench art.

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