Art Hack: Using Ephemera

Ephemera = Transitory written and printed matter (receipts, notes, tickets, clippings, etc.) not originally intended to be kept or preserved.

I had never heard the term “ephemera” before I discovered the world of mixed media.  Let’s back up…I didn’t know what “mixed media” meant either.

Medium is the material an artist uses to create his/her art – watercolor, acrylic paint, pastels, charcoal, etc.  Media is the plural of medium.  So mixed media means creating with more than one medium on a single composition such as pastel and ink; acrylic paint, collage and charcoal; graphite, watercolor, acrylic paint and collage; etc. 

Ok, back to the topic…

Ephemera is daily trash.  You save your newspapers, glass, cans, plastics, etc for recycling, but these items you throw away without thinking about it.

So really, saving your ephemera is taking your recycling to a whole new level.  Using your ephemera to create art is elevating you to recycler Super Star status!

It also provides cheap, fun, common but unusual fodder to create personally meaningful art.  Everyone of all ages  – even those that don’t consider themselves artistic – can create art with their daily trash.

Let’s take a closer look at our ephemera…

Check out the many patterns and colors inside junk mail envelopes.


Consider collecting all of the postage stamps you receive in a week.


Here’s more – how-to and investment pamphlets; newspaper cartoons; kids’ drawings; and clothing tags.


So what can you create with all this junk?

You can paste theses mementos of your daily life into a journal.


Here are some wrappers and labels I stitched onto muslin that I was going to make into a journal cover.  (I didn’t.)


This is a journal page made with art trash left over from a project .


These two collages are made with fabric and paper scraps.



ex 3

Here’s an idea for you to do with your kids: Every 3 months kids can create a collage using old homework papers, tests, and favorite art projects.   Now they have a record of each school year that they created using their very own ephemera.  You can also create greeting cards and gift tags.  Consider throwing it all in a basket then sort, cut, and paste while you watch TV.

How do you use your ephemera?

Thanks for stopping by,


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