Over the past four years, Haystack and Frontline Arts have actively developed a program for military veterans based on the “combat paper” model of taking discontinued military uniforms and transforming them into handmade paper. Our goal with these workshops has been to highlight the veteran artist movement and provide opportunities for veterans to learn from one another in a supportive community of makers.

This year we expanded the program to include workshops in ceramics, papermaking, and writing, which were taught by artists who are both veterans and leaders in their respective fields. In conjunction Ehren Tool was an artist in residence and Haystack has mounted an exhibition of work by veteran artists at our Center for Community Programs in Deer Isle village. The Veteran Artists in Craft Week included 40 participants (10 slots reserved for Maine Veterans). A lottery process was used for selecting participants. Workshops were open to all skill levels and those accepted attended for free.

An outgrowth to this year’s program is an exhibition, Artist | Veteran, that features the work of six artists who are also military veterans. Kevin Basl, Alicia Dietz, David Keefe, Jessica Putnam Phillips, Ehren Tool, and Eli Wright are the exhibiting artists – they work in a range of media including painting and drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and writing.

WORKSHOPS (Veteran Artists in Craft Week)

Night Visions: Writing Your Military Experience 
Kevin Basl
This workshop encourages participants to write about the military using a variety of literary forms and styles. Mornings, we will read and discuss examples from the past century of war literature (e.g. Yusef Komunyakaa, Kurt Vonnegut, Elyse Fenton, etc.) giving close attention to how the authors achieve certain effects. We will discuss the context of those works, learning about literary movements such as surrealism and confessional poetry. Afternoons will be devoted to generative workshops (Warrior Writers-style), with opportunities for feedback on writing, sharing your work publicly, and how to get your stories, essays, and poems into the hands of readers. Participants can expect to leave with a few works-in-progress. All skill levels welcome.

Ceramic Foundations, Forms, and Surface Explorations
Jessica Putnam-Phillips
During this week of ceramic exploration, we will use soft slabs to hand build and press mold various ceramic forms such as plates, platters, vases, cups, and bowls. Through the use of embossed rollers, bisque stamps, sprigs, found objects, and underglazes we will add texture, embellish, and enhance our ceramic surfaces. Participants will a have the opportunity to make their own rollers, stamps, and sprigs. Commercial decals and china paint will be demonstrated, and making your own laser decals and using gold luster will be discussed. In addition, studio tips and techniques — with in-depth discussions on glazing, firing, materials, sources, and tools — will be shared. All skill levels welcome.

The Revolutionary Journey of Papermaking
Eli Wright and Nathan Lewis
This workshop will focus on the history and process of Western-style hand papermaking, exploring common materials such as military uniforms, jute, hemp, cotton, abaca, and others. How have these fibers played a role in global trade, politics, and ecology? How did papermaking spread from the East to the West? How has it encouraged revolutions? Participants will learn about these topics and more while cutting and preparing rag fibers, forming your own sheets of paper, experimenting with watermarks, and other techniques. Participants are encouraged to make paper from their own military uniform or other article of clothing with symbolic significance. Everyone will complete a hand-bound journal, produced from different papers made throughout the week. All skill levels welcome.

Artist in Residence 
Ehren Tool


All participants must be at least 18 years of age and an American military veteran.

Questions? Contact Haystack at (207) 348-2306 or haystack@haystack-mtn.org. Haystack staff are available M-F, 8:30 am–4:30 pm EST to answer any questions you may have.




Jessica Putnam-Phillips is a ceramic artist, USAF Veteran, illustrator, and educator living in Vermont. She received a BA from UNC-Wilmington and an MFA from the Art Institute of Boston. She is a past resident artist at the Saratoga Clay Art Center and attended the residency at AIR Vallauris, France. She actively promotes ceramic art and education and recently founded ClayShare an online school for ceramic learning. Jessica’s work had been national and international exhibitions, most notably at the Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco; the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles; and the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona. She is a past winner of the Zanesville Prize and was named a potter to watch by C-File. In addition to giving workshops and maintaining her studio practice Jessica is on the board of directors for the Vermont Crafts Council.

Eli Wright is a papermaker and mixed-media printmaker based in the NYC/NJ area. He is a co-founder and lead instructor of Frontline Paper (formerly Combat Paper NJ). Eli has been making paper and teaching art workshops since 2007, helping develop the now-popular hand papermaking from military uniforms model. His work has been featured in Art in Print and Hand Papermaking magazines, and his work has been exhibited in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Center for Book Arts, Salina Art Center, and elsewhere. He served as a medic in the US Army from 2002-2008.

Nathan Lewis is a papermaker and bookbinder living in Hector, NY. He served in the U.S Army and participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Nathan facilitates Combat Paper NJ workshops and has a Book Arts Bunker fortified with firewood and shiitake mushroom logs.

Kevin Basl is a writer, musician, and activist living near Ithaca, NY. From military posts to universities to street corners, he has facilitated Warrior Writers and Combat Paper NJ workshops since 2013. He received an MFA in Fiction from Temple University, where he has also taught writing. His work has been published, or is forthcoming, in War, Literature and the Arts, O’Dark Thirty, Miramar Magazine, and elsewhere. Most recently, Kevin is co-author of Warrior Writers Guide: How to Start Your Own Veterans Writing Workshop (2018), co-editor of DemiliaRIZE! Political Graphics from Veteran Movements Against War, forthcoming from PM Press (2019), and he is currently an instructor for Frontline Arts.

The Haystack | Frontline Arts Veteran Artists in Craft Week was presented in partnership with Frontline Arts and supported by the Broad Reach Fund of the Maine Community Foundation and Haystack’s Endowment for Programs. Additional support provided through the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Haystack is an international craft school located on the Atlantic Ocean in Deer Isle, Maine.  Founded in 1950 as a research and studio program in the arts, Haystack offers one and two-week studio workshops to participants of all skill levels as well as the two week, Open Studio Residency Program, exhibitions, tours, auctions, artist lectures, and shorter workshops for Maine residents and local students. We also support visiting artists and scholars from a variety of fields including science, literature, music and the visual arts who are invited to spend two weeks at the school focusing on their work. Haystack also functions as a ‘think-tank’ in looking at craft—publishing annual monographs and organizing a variety of conferences and symposia that examine craft in broader contexts. These include collaborations with other institutions like the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. The award-winning campus was designed by noted American architect, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and opened in 1960 when the school relocated to Deer Isle.


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