I hope you’re having a great holiday season! Since this is a time of giving, we have a great gift just for you: vintage ephemera downloads from my personal collection of really old stuff! You can click here to download four pages of old photos, French postcards, and vintage library cards that you can use for your personal artwork—art journal pages, jewelry, paintings, handmade books, fabric collages—whatever you like!
As you probably know, I love combing flea markets and antique stores for old photos, books, maps, and more to use in my artwork. I consider these rare treasures, and I love sharing them with people. We appreciate our Cloth Paper Scissors readers so much, and this is a small thank you for being part of our family.
As a bonus, here’s a quick fabric and paper collage tutorial that incorporates some of the vintage ephemera downloads. I used one of the French postcards, altering it in a couple of ways: I increased the saturation and made it a lovely golden shade, so I’d have a little color in my artwork. I also flopped it horizontally; I wanted to do an image transfer, so the postcard needed to be reversed. With vintage ephemera downloads you can easily change the color, contrast, and saturation with photo-editing software, making it different every time.
I used a gel medium transfer method, which is great for fabric. The image was printed onto plain copy paper, using a toner-based copier. After trimming the image to the edges, I applied a substantial layer of matte gel medium to the front of the image with a foam brush.
While the gel medium was still wet, I adhered the image to a piece of natural canvas duck with a folding rib, making sure it was stuck down everywhere (you can also use a bone folder). A couple of corners popped up, so I applied more gel medium and pressed them down. Don’t press too hard, or you risk ripping the saturated paper. The great thing about having vintage ephemera downloads is that you can use them again and again—you don’t have to worry about losing your favorite photo to one piece of artwork.
When the gel medium was dry (the piece will feel room temperature, not cool), I placed it in a metal tray and sprayed the paper with water, until it was pretty well saturated. Then I rubbed off the paper with my fingers, leaving just the image. Again, don’t get too aggressive here, or you risk rubbing the image off as well. Gently rub the fabric until no more white paper bits come off. You may see some traces of white when the piece dries; if that happens, just wet it again and rub gently until all the paper is off.
To add some color to the fabric I sprayed just the borders with a little water, then splattered some diluted calligraphy ink in a pretty blue-black shade, similar to the color of the postage stamp.
When the ink was dry I auditioned my collage elements. I didn’t want too many pieces, so I kept it simple: a photo from the vintage ephemera downloads printed on cardstock, some lace, and a scrap of French book text. I wanted the lace to pop a bit more, so I dyed it with walnut ink. I also wanted to add stitching, and used Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements by Coats thread. This is great stuff—heavier than regular sewing thread, but coarser than perle embroidery floss.
The elements were held in place temporarily with glue stick, and then stitched down with the thread. I also splattered a little walnut ink here and there, and added one more texture element: a scrap of cheesecloth, held in place with a few stitches.
I hope you enjoy this vintage ephemera as much as I have, and have a very Happy New Year!
Want to know the best places to find ephemera? Book artist Rachel Hazell reveals where you can find fantastic papers to use in your mixed-media art in this blog post.