How to Use Ephemera

You’ve got a new horizon, It’s ephemeral style.


I have always loved old stuff, things that maybe other people think of as trash.  Or junk.  I am a pack rat, saving bits and snippets of tags and papers and letters and pics, the list goes on and on.  I save all kinds of things.  I put them in large brown envelopes, with the hopes that it’s all somehow organized…although I’m always having to dig through every envelope when I’m looking for something, lol.

It wasn’t until I started using all of these bits of stuffs in my artwork that I realized the full potential.  I didn’t really understand what good was going to come of my pack rat nature.  I just knew that I had piles and piles of stuff that I couldn’t bear to throw away, filling up my cabinets and drawers and plastic bins.

When I ran across the word “ephemera”, I felt totally validated!  Ha ha, my collections have value somehow!  Woo-hoo, it’s like having a serious habit enabled!!  Even then, it took a while before I started finding more and more uses for all of the stuff.  As I found more uses, I found more stuff that I wanted to keep.  The cycle goes round and round.

I have been working on a series of works that use ephemera collage in the first layer of the background.  (The first two pieces are actually complete, and I didn’t think to snap photos of them at each stage).  I did think about it this time, on the third and final piece of this group.

As I stumbled around on potential ways of using all of the little scraps of stuff, I found myself wondering how other people use this kind of stuff.  So for any of you who have wished you could see how someone else does it, this is for you.

Ephemera used in collage for background

When I’m choosing what I’m going to use in my pieces, I consider how much and where I want parts of it to show through.  For this piece (which I’ll share with you later as it progresses), I know that the upper corners in particular will have a lot of the background showing through.  So I chose snippets that I like and want to see peeking through the forefront of the piece.  I also know that towards the bottom of the finished piece I will have more going on, so less of the ephemera will show through heavily.  That’s why I used music paper and busier papers there.  Some of it will peek through, but it will mostly add subtly to the texture appearance in the overall piece.

After I chose my papers, I used Mod Podge to stick them all down to the canvas board.  I also use Mod Podge over the top of all of the papers after I stick them to the board.  Because much of what I use is old papers, I like the sealant effect over the top to keep the papers from crumbling as I do other stuff as I build the piece up.

There you have it.  A little look into how I use bits of ephemera in my art.  I will keep you posted as I get each step done to this one.

Coming up…adding color to the background.


2 thoughts on “How to Use Ephemera

  1. Pingback: How to Use Ephemera Step 3 | St. John Studios

  2. Pingback: How to Use Ephemera Step 5, We’re at the Final Step | St. John Studios

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