Collecting vintage ephemera is one of my passions, and I love sharing my finds with people. That’s why I’m thrilled to tell you that we’ve put together a limited collection of ephemera that’s part of our new Vintage Ephemera Kit, which also includes the books Storytelling with Collage and The Art of Expressive Collage. These ephemera pieces, including book and ledger pages, labels, game and quiz cards, and much more, are from my personal stash. And they’re ready for you to use in your next mixed-media masterpiece!
You likely know that ephemera is a staple of mixed media, with artists using it for junk journals, collage, tags, cards, art journaling, assemblage, printmaking, jewelry—yeah, pretty much everything. In the pages of Cloth Paper Scissors, you can find tons of great projects that incorporate ephemera, and the ideas and techniques artists come up with are so inspiring.
Here’s a peek at what you’ll get in the kit:
A limited number of these ephemera kits are available, so don’t wait until it’s too late! The items in the kit date from the mid-1800s to the 1960s, and all are authentic, with no reproductions. Some of the ledger and book pages are made of cotton or linen rag paper, which predated wood pulp paper. You don’t need to scour thrift stores or wade through flea markets to find fantastic ephemera. I’ve done all the work to bring you the best of the best.
You’ll find tons of ideas and techniques for how to incorporate ephemera in all types of mixed-media projects in both books included with the kit. I love creating with ephemera, and I’ve put together a little best-of sampling of blog tutorials that feature ephemera, in case you’re looking for some instant inspiration. Read all the way through—there are two new quick and easy projects at the end!
Making flowers out of found papers is one of the most fun things to do, and they look gorgeous. In this post, I show how to make a rose and a poppy from book pages. The process is so easy and completely addictive.
In the Fall 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, UK artist Jennifer Collier shows how to make the most charming dresses out of book and music pages. I incorporated her techniques for making sewn pleats and piping to make this miniature dress, which has a skirt made out of ledger pages and a blouse made from sheet music. Here are the instructions to make it.
Handmade Books and Journals
Ephemera is a wonderful addition to handmade books and junk journals, and that’s where a lot of my collection ends up. In this tutorial, I show how to make mini travel journals from postcards and use ephemera for the inside pages. Book pages made from ephemera alleviate blank page fear, making books more enjoyable to work in. The text and images offer great possibilities for painting, doodling, drawing, collage, etc.
This book was made using the techniques from Rachel Hazell’s article “Books that Speak” in the January/February 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Rachel shows how to create a small accordion book with a narrative built from ephemera enhanced with drawings, paintings, and words.
Going through my stash, it was easy to pull pieces that had special meaning to me, like a book illustration, part of a map, and a postage stamp. I quickly developed a cohesive idea that could be spread across the folded pages. Read more about how I made this book, and Rachel’s beautiful books, here.
Recently I made some cyanotype prints and included them in several projects. In one, I painted a large ledger page and used that as the backdrop for a cyanotype made from a vintage glass plate negative. The ledger page, with its subtle handwritten words, really allows the focal image to shine.
Two New Ways to Use Ephemera
Okay, on to the new tutorials! I used the large hand-written ledger page to create an envelope for a special card. To start, I carefully opened up an existing envelope and used it as a template, tracing it onto the page (If you need a different size, scan the template and make it larger or smaller.). I cut the shape out with a craft knife, then stenciled the envelope with a light coat of acrylic paint, allowing the handwriting to show through. Using rubber stamps, I created two labels, stamping the images onto a blank ledger sheet.
The envelope liner was made from a portion of the atlas page; a liner is optional, of course, but it makes a great presentation. To make the liner, I traced the flap and center portion of the template, then cut just inside the lines. I adhered the liner with glue stick.
To make a tag pocket, I painted the smaller hand-written ledger page from the kit with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art Watercolor in blue aqua, which is a gorgeous, vibrant color. To give the manila tag a little interest, I dipped it in walnut ink and sprinkled some walnut ink crystals on while it was still wet.
I folded the ledger paper in half to create pockets on both sides of the tag. Then I trimmed the paper with pinking shears and decorated with little flags punched from the atlas page. By gluing a scrap of vintage necktie material (included in the kit) to the top of the game card, the card became a fun tag.
I took all the tag and envelope components to my sewing machine and stitched around the pocket tag, the game card, and the envelope with dark blue-gray thread. Lastly, I adhered labels and a vintage postage stamp (yep, the stamps are in the kit) to the envelope. Wouldn’t that pocket tag be great in a travel journal?
Don’t hesitate—these kits will be gone soon, so make sure you get yours today. Just think of what you can make! I hope you have as much fun with this unique ephemera as I did.