Getting Creative With Ephemera

Do you struggle to use all that memorabilia and ephemera you keep? I bet many of us are really good at keeping the stuff but not as good at actually incorporating it into our scrapbook designs.

Sometimes it’s hard to work in big, bulky maps or brochures into our pages. When those items are really important to me, I tend to create a 2-page layout to ensure I have the room. But typically I don’t get more creative than just attaching memorabilia or placing it in a pocket.

Recently, I came across this post in an online gallery, challenging participants to make embellishments with ephemera. Ever the one to rise to a challenge, I got out some of my own memorabilia to see what kind of crafty masterpieces I could whip up.

Get organized first

One of the keys to actually being able to use ephemera on your layouts is to keep it organized. During the year, I save my ephemera in these envelopes. As I scrapbook events, I’ll go through them and pull out anything I saved related to that event or acticity. (Well, if I actually remember to do it. More on that later this week.) At the end of the year, anything didn’t get used is placed into acid free envelopes and folders and stored in a closet.

I took out a couple years worth of these envelopes and folders and started sorting things into piles. I have a big assortment of travel related items because I traveled frequently for the big corporate job I used to have. There’s also a good supply of clothing tags and maps and greeting cards. I pulled out some things I thought would be fun to work with and put everything else away.

Use punches to make your own embellishments

One of the things I realized from my travel ephemera is that it reminded me of text paper. I have a lot of different pre-made embellishments that use text or script backgrounds. Just look at Basic Grey’s new Out of Print collection – including these Bloomers.

Why not punch your ephemera into different shapes and create your own embellishments?

I used flight boarding passes and a luggage claim stickers to create these:

I like the look of text backgrounds on embellishments and this takes it up a notch because it’s more personal. You can strategically punch out a section that includes your name, like I have done with some of these boarding passes.

I took the same idea and used some more boarding passes and luggage stickers with a tag punch to get these:

Just adding a simple notebook punched border to a larger piece of ephemera takes it from plain to ineresting:

Use repitition to create a fun background

Take several of the same kinds of tags or tickets and use them to create an interesting background:

I took a variety of boarding passes from different flights, lined them up, stitched a few lines through to ground them, spritzed with some Tuscan Sun glimmer mist and now I have a unique background for a future layout.

Here’s a tag, using the same idea:

I distressed the tag with some Peeled Paint Distress Stain and inked the outside edges with Fountain Pen ink, both from Ranger. I used my Martha Stewart Starburst punch to punch several pieces out of more boarding passes. I attached them to the background of this tag and then added other embellishments and words around them.

While I used mostly travel and airline related items in these examples, think about how you could use clothing tags, maps, brochures or anything else that you have been saving. I think my boarding pass background would be fantastic with concert tickets celebrating your favorite band or two rows of movie tickets on a layout about your cinema love or your son’s Pokemon card wrappers… You get the idea. There are so many possibilities.

Playing it safe

If you have any concerns about the acid in your ephemera, you can always spray it with something like Krylon’s Make it Acid-Free.

I tend to back my ephemera with cardstock so that anything it lays on top of only touches cardstock. Or, I’ll make sure that any photos touching ephemera are matted with cardstock. Adding the extra layer of acid-free paper will help slow the deterioration of anything that does contain acid.

I think the ideas above are great for the leftover bits and pieces that didn’t get incorporated into your layouts. Make that Disney park map a focal point on your layout and when you can’t figure out how to use the Fast-Pass tickets or gift shop receipts create some one-of-a-kind embellishments like these.

I hope you are you inspired to pull out some ephemera and create some of your own embellishments! What kinds of ephemera do you hold on to?

Thanks for stopping by today!


  1. great idea – I was sorting through a box from my parent’s attic at the weekend and found an envelope of travel maps and tickets from 20 years ago and was wondering what to do with them – now I have some ideas

    • Awesome! What a great find. 🙂

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these ideas Tammy!!! Thanks so much for sharing today 🙂

    • I’m so glad! It was fun to do. 🙂

  3. Awesome, awesome ideas!!! I pinned the photo of the flower embellishments on Pinterest for when I do my Ireland album! 🙂

    • Oh, thanks for telling me that. Love that Pinterest! 🙂

  4. Tammy, these ideas are AWESOME!! I save TONS of memorabilia of all types, so these new ideas will really come in handy! Thanks!

    • You are welcome! Glad I could provide some inspiration.

  5. Great ideas! My ephemera is a mess…I’ve just been throwing all into the same basket. I think I need me some folders!

    • It’s amazing how something so easy can truly get you organized! 🙂

  6. Awesome ideas!! I’m filing some of these away for later.

    What do I save? You know me – everything. My stuff usually won’t fit in envelopes, I have to go for boxes, one for each year. It is organized though!

    I’m actually publishing a post tomorrow where I took a huge park map and cut it up so it would work in my layout. I’m ALMOST finished with the current book I’m working on and will be doing a post about the “leftovers” from my keepsake box.

    • Oh cool, I’ll be by to check it out! I love the different ways we use the memorabilia. I wish that I had things like that from my Grandmother’s but I don’t. The way everything is going digital, I figure I better preserve this stuff now because who knows what a Disney park map will look like in 50 years! 😀

  7. These are great tips. I saved lots of ephemera from my cruise and will definitely be putting some of these to use!

    • Perfect timing! 🙂

  8. tammy,
    i love this idea! going to have to try this!

    • Thanks! 🙂

  9. Oh my goodness, these are some great ideas. I really like the idea of creating flowers or tags with boarding passes and such!

    • I was so thrilled by how they turned out! If you give it a try, be sure to point me to it so I can see it. 🙂

  10. Great tips, love the idea of using punches!

    • Thanks. Those punches are irreplaceable! Every time I pack another box and need a few more things to fill it up – I think, maybe some punches? But no, I just can’t part with them yet. They may have to go with me in the car! LOL Not sure I can be separated long enough to move. 🙂

  11. This is awesome! You can add in a little but not over take the layout! I will have to try this 🙂

    • I’m excited about this for the times when I don’t want to do a 2 pager (sometimes that the only way I can get the memorabilia on there!). 🙂

  12. What a great idea.
    I loved your idea on the envelopes when you posted it the first time.

    • Thanks!

  13. Tammy, what a great post, thanks so much for sharing all these great ideas! I am currently on a paper clutter purge, and hope to get my memorabilia sorted once and for all. I never thought of using it to make embellishments, fab!

    • Glad you were inspired! 😀

  14. Got here via interview on Scrapworthy Livies via PRT! So glad I did. Your blog has great content. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for stopping by Sherry! So glad you found me. 🙂



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