Gathering ephemera for art journaling and mixed-media is always a good idea... whether you’re just starting out on your collecting journey with all the fervour of Bilbo Baggins leaving the Shire, or already have a stash that fills more drawers than you’d like to admit, here are 12 ideas for gathering those precious bits of paper that can be the starting point, background, or focal point of your art!
1- Images torn out of magazines - a great way to recycle your magazine subscription! Ask friends or family members to save any of their old magazines for you too.
2- ‘Scrap’ paper - use scrap paper or old book pages to wipe your paintbrush or mix colours on as you work, and voila - at the same time as creating art, you’ll be creating gorgeous paper as a byproduct, with colour palettes that you’ve mixed and already love! You can also do a similar thing by stamping excess ink off your stamps, saving scrap gelli print papers, or paper you’ve used to clean off your stencils.
3- Dried flowers - capture the seasons from your garden & enjoy adding natural elements to your page. Simply press stems between old book pages, then paste them into your art with gel medium, or go one-up and seal them in empty teabag sachets with melted wax.
4- Tickets, tags & maps - keep ones with gorgeous fonts or colours from places you go & things you buy. If they are shiny, you can always clear gesso over them to give them “tooth” for the next layers of your art. Maps are a great way to add a personal touch to your journal pages, as you can capture places you’ve been (or want to go) and use it to help tell a story in your art.
5- You’ve got mail! - start saving security envelopes as there are so many different patterns when you start to look, and they make great neutral background ephemera. Save any quirky postage stamps while you’re going through your post, too.
6- Printables - anyone else find fussy-cutting therapeutic? There are so many printable elements out there - you can download 400+ elements when you enrol in our free Creative Sparks Library to make a start. If you don’t have access to a printer you can check out books like ‘extraordinary things to cut out and collage’ by Maria Rivans.
7- Old books - thrift an old book or dig one out from your loft that you know you'll never read again. Cut out words and phrases in advance and store them at the ready in a little tin. If you're cringing at the thought of cutting up a book - choose a 'rescue' one with pages falling out, and feel good about giving it a new lease of life!
8- Vintage - think old ledgers, black & white/ sepia photos, postcards… these make fabulous neutral collage pieces and focal points. Pick these up from places like eBay online, car boot sales, or even use any you have been handed down from family (photocopy and print scanned copies to use if they are precious!)
9- Gift wrap - there are so many pretty wrapping papers about! Save some pieces for your stash rather than throwing it all away. Gift tags, patterned paper bags, cards... anything with a pattern or colour palette that calls to you can be reused in your art.
10- Sewing patterns - maybe you’ve got some of these stashed in your loft, or in a sewing box that you never venture into. The tissue pattern pieces can make for beautiful translucent collage layers! They’re usually pretty easy to find (and cheap!) in thrift shops too.
11- Patterned napkins - raid the kitchen drawers (and/or look slightly odd stashing pretty serviettes in your bag at events). Peel apart the napkin layers and use the patterned layer a little like tissue or decoupage paper on your page.
12- Creative Sparks Library - FREE resource with over 400 printable elements for mixed-media, art journaling, collage and junk journals. Simply click here to unlock.
I hope this gets you inspired to gather more ephemera from your every day for your art!