Trash into Treasure: Using Ephemera

Gina -Journey Page

Have you ever heard the word “ephemera” and wondered what it mean? Have you noticed that both mixed media and digital artists sometimes use seemingly random kinds of elements in their pages – such as the section of a dictionary page that Gina has used in her  digital “The Perfect Shot” page which uses elements from both The Journey and the Life Captured Collection?

Or the bits of advertisement and book and ledger paper you can almost see in my “Friends are flowers in the Garden of Life” canvass.

The term “ephemera” refers to everyday items – usually (but not necessarily) paper – that were never intended to be collected. Receipts, transportation tickets, invoices, movie tickets and book paper all fit into the category of “ephemera.”

Friends are flowers

Those items you might otherwise throw away can find a new life in your art. Mixed media artists and art journalers use ephemera to add “texture” or interest to backgrounds – sometimes visible, sometimes covered under layers of paint or gesso.

The Feather

In ‘The Feather” – a not quite finished piece I’m doing for one of the Life Book 2015 classes, I layered decorative paper napkins (the blue and green squares you see at both the lower and upper left of the feather), book paper and torn piece from a vintage advertising card (on top of the book paper, but below the feather). The ephemera adds visual interest and creates depth –  and by painting or adding gesso on top of them they become part of the piece as a whole and don’t distract from the focal point of the piece.











Digital artists do the same – layering bits of ephemera with other elements to form clusters behind page focal points.The ephemera doesn’t have to relate at all to the theme of your page, journaling or layout, but of course it’s best if the colors don’t clash with the page. Here are some pages created by my fabulous Creative Team using some of my products. Can you spot the ephemera?

Have you tried incorporating ephemera into your artwork?



3 thoughts on “Trash into Treasure: Using Ephemera

  1. Well, you just captured it with this one, Vicki! Who wouldn’t want to give ephemera a whirl after this? Those layouts are so cooool! LOL I love ephemera, myself. Some of the online museums have collections that are what we would call ‘ephemera’ – baseball cards, vintage greeting cards, cabinet cards, etc. This site has a registry of sorts of museums that have their collections online. – You may have to select ‘Images’ from the top menu bar.
    You have me inspired to go play! Darn you! LOL Truth be told, I already cranked up Photoshop! I was away from my pc for a few days and I am ‘Jones-ing’ to get back on PS! LOL
    Love your new ephemera! Must go shopping! I have all the dancers. I had to have them!


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