Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Basics of Crafting with Vintage Paper Ephemera

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I LOVE vintage paper ephemera! Finding little hints of the past in items that would have been discarded is a lot of fun for me. Those everyday little objects offer great insights into the trends, thinking, attitudes and fashions of the time they were made. And they add a little bit of their charm and uniqueness into modern day life too.

Paper ephemera for crafting by Pink Flamingo Ephemera

That's why I love to use vintage ephemera in my own crafting; it lets me make unique pieces that are special for whoever receives them. I love it when I'm at a fair or in a shop where someone is looking at my work and it brings a smile to their face as it brings back memories or introduces them to something new. It means that forgotten little pieces of social history have found a new purpose in a useful way.

Something I often get asked though is 'what is ephemera?' and (if customers are crafters too) 'how do I use it?'. Well, hopefully you can find the answers here with my beginner's guide to using ephemera in crafts.

What is paper ephemera?

Paper ephemera refers to any papers or paper goods which would otherwise be thrown away. It includes items such as: 
  • adverts
  • postage stamps
  • magazines
  • postcards
  • letters and envelopes
  • maps
  • matchbook covers
  • game cards and pieces 
  • books (choose ones which are falling to pieces and not much use anymore) 

Where can I find paper ephemera?

There are lots of places to find ephemera. The first place to look is around your house - you could be amazed at what you could find! (I recently found a box of postcards in a storage box I'd completely forgotten about). Also look around charity/second hand shops, antique centres, local markets and table top sales as well as lots of places online (ebay and etsy are good choices).

What counts as 'vintage'?

Most places that sell vintage class it as 20 years or older (so pre-1994 currently). I like to use anything 1980s or earlier to make it look really vintage.

Why use vintage papers rather than new supplies?

I like to use a mix of both new and vintage materials. There are many reasons to choose vintage over new though, for example:
  • it's unique. Although it might have been mass produced when it was made, because of it's nature not as much survives
  • it's eco friendly
  • there's more choice to make a truly personalised item
  • it's a reminder of past times and little glimpses into social history
  • and a favourite of mine - it's lots of fun hunting out vintage pieces!


What craft supplies and tools will I need?

The same as any supplies for paper craft will get you started - scissors, glue, card and paper, double sided tape. Depending on what you want to make there are lots of other toys (er, tools) to use including paper punches, inks, stencils, embossing tools... well if you've ever visited a craft shop you'll know how many possibilities there are!


Which crafts incorporate paper ephemera?

  Any that would use paper. Particularly suited are:
  • scrapbooking
  • collage
  • card making
  • mixed media pieces
  • altered art
  • journaling 
  • decoupage


What can I make?

The possibilities are endless! I love card making the most closely followed by decoupage. Below are just a few ideas...

Paper ephemera bunting by Pink Flamingo Handcrafting
Paper bunting - find the tutorial here

Handmade gift bags by Pink Flamingo Handcrafting
Add vintage book pictures to bought or handmade gift bags. The tags are made using the matching part of the story.

I found these heart garlands at Diane Faw's blog - they're adorable!

This lovely scrapbook page at Inkcognito is inspired by vintage ephemera - but why not use the real thing?

Paper bead earrings by Pink Flamingo Handcrafting
I love to make beads out of paper - these are some earrings I made with them
Paper flower sticks by Pink Flamingo Handcrafting
Another of my favourites to make - there'll be a tutorial to show you how to make these flower stickers here next week!
These are just a few ideas to get you started - you're only limit is your imagination! And to get your imagination fired up why not take a look at my Pinterest board dedicated to Paper Ephemera for supplies and projects?

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