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How to organise ephemera for MORE creating and less hoarding

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Ephemera is my number one supply ever, and if I only had one supply I could take on an island, it’d be paper. I am an exceptionally organised human, but I am also a creative and ephemera organisation lends itself to somewhere in the middle of those two things. The goal of ephemera is not collection, but rather use. In this post and video, I’m sharing how I store ephemera in a way that makes sense for me to use. This is my organisation system for vintage ephemera, paper from life, modern ephemera (such as magazine pages), and digital ephemera.

Here’s how I store my ephemera. Lazily, but functionally:

Watch the video


  • 00:00 An ode to ephemera
  • 02:10 Organising ephemera (for use)
  • 06:04 Using vintage paper in junk journals
  • 10:56 My altered vintage journal for Junk Journal July

How I store ephemera

My setup seems chaotic, but it has some kind of structure. It goes through a funnel. First, the paper arrives at my studio in a book or as sheets of paper. I keep a few vintage books and ledgers, as well as a stack of old Flow magazines. Most ephemera that I keep is vintage, and probably German, though I also love keeping what I call modern ephemera – paper memories from my current life, and magazine sheets.

Once I’ve processed books and paper from life, I choose what I want to keep and that will go into a big drawer of paper. I’ve tried organising these drawers, but when I’m using paper in journaling, I don’t look for a piece based on theme. I go with my heart, what the paper feels like, it’s specific shade of beige, and its structure.

If I’m binding a journal, I’ll specifically pull from these drawers. If I’m collaging, I’ll probably use an existing crate or container. Once that existing container no longer sparks anything in me, I’ll throw it out and start pulling again.

The end of ephemera’s life for me happens when it’s bound into a journal or glued onto a journal page. Then it becomes art.

Storing ephemera in books and magazines

I keep a very small collection of vintage books and ledgers for art journaling and collage. I also keep old Flow magazines that I have been going through and tearing out of over time.

Storing ephemera in a set of old apothecary drawers

These drawers are the first stop, and they’re vaguely organised into “old stuff”, paper from life, magazine paper, and tissue paper-ish.

Storing ephemera in large Aykasa crates

I freaking love these crates by Aykasa. I love the pop of bright colour against the beige of the papers that I keep.

If I don’t finish the project immediately, the crate will live on a shelf until I do.

Storing ephemera in small Aykasa crates

These babies will usually be carried around with me. I’ll keep the paper amongst the art supplies I use in a faux travel kit.

This will follow me around for a while until it no longer sparks joy. Then, I’ll empty the art supplies into my library card catalogue cabinet, and probably throw the papers in the recycling or pass along to a friend.

Storing ephemera in ceramic fruit bowls

I am OBSESSED with these Anthropologie bowls and they make me very happy indeed.

Storing ephemera in cigar boxes

Storing ephemera in other containers

I love pretty woven flat baskets. A lot.

And sometimes just a regular old clip works (especially for traveling)

Storing ephemera digitally

Here’s a peek at digital ephemera storage. I scan in a lot of vintage paper that I find for the Get Messy ephemera library (it’s part of the Get Messy membership).

How I use ephemera

As I said, the most important thing to me is that I actually use this. My organisation is a series of culling.

Using ephemera for binding junk journals

Using ephemera for gifts

Artists freaking love digging into the ephemera of other artists.

Using ephemera for collage

I love minimalist, simple collage and moving papers together. It’s my favourite way of journaling.

Peek into a few of my junk journals

Here’s a peek at some of my journals as well as my process and tips for junk journaling

Caylee Grey

Caylee Grey is a South African artist who fills her journals with loads of mediocre art. Imperfect, heart-led, gloriously mediocre art. Caylee's the Fairy Artmother of Get Messy Art, the kindest art journaling community on the internet, and author of the book by the same name.