Gathering ephemera for meaningful collage

Hi Messians!

Today I am sharing with you a super simple idea that I use a lot in my art journaling – it is essentially grouping ephemera. The word ephemera was introduced to me a few years ago by Vanessa and essentially means “those scraps of paper you hoard and want to one day use in your art journal.” I have a few systems for sorting through and storing my ephemera that help me (and hopefully you too!) when  I decide what kind of page I want to create. My most used method is binders; I have these A4 orange binders full of plastic wallets that I stuff things into.

Magazine pages, wrapping paper, flyers, post cards, envelopes, old art journal pages.. you name it, they’re in there! Within these binders, I try to group things together that sit nicely alongside each other, that maybe will contribute to a page together. This saves me time when I have a clear idea or when I am looking for inspiration. My other way is to pre-select from the binders. I do this at the start of each get messy season or collaborative journal. I then keep the papers together with bulldog clips. If I know I will be working on a particular theme for a while, this is a good way to keep applicable ephemera easily on hand.

In the video below I show you inside my binders and how I start to build themes and ideas. I am going to make collages from each grouped connection theme; one on colour, one on shape, one on pattern and one on a theme – I chose vintage for this exercise.

As I mention in the video, if you don’t have a storage system like this (or any at all!) you could do the same exercise with just a few magazines. Going through and grouping images in colour, pattern, shape or  a certain theme. Or why not try all four?!


I have grouped these images under the loose umbrella of blue / purple. I used sellotape and pritt stick to fix them down to my page. I like to use sellotape as a quick way to secure of images together  – you can arrange them nicely and seal them without losing the placement of anything.


The pattern here is floral, flowers on everything! I used just pritt stick glue on this collage. The neatest and most seamless way to collage.


The shape I chose was circles – again, a very loose theme! I used a circled pattern washi tape and pritt stick to stick down the images. Washi tape helps add another pattern to your page quickly and effectively.


My theme here was vintage. I used staples and pritt stick to secure the images. Staples are another quick win for grouping ephemera and again, something I learned from Vanessa! I love the slightly edgy look they give to a page – which I later enhanced with the lines I drew over in Posca pen.

Action step

Create a connected collage and share with us on Instagram – bonus points if you show how you store your ephemera too!


Julia is a British designer and creative enthusiast. She loves to express herself through shape, colour and pattern – living by the ethos of more is more!


  1. Anna Oliveira

    What I most love is that you used different materials to stick the papers. It blew my mind because I only use glue. After your tutorial I tried to use another thing to stick my collage and it was very fun to do. I’ll post it on instagram soon. 😀

    • Julia Cusworth

      Thanks! I look forward to seeing your pages! 🙂

  2. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    Staples FTW! Love these so much! And the word «sellotape».

    • Julia Cusworth

      YES! And…. what do you call sellotape? Just tape? 😉

  3. Moriah Costa

    Whoa it was so cool to see how you made the page of our collab! Loved it!
    And I thought I had a good way of organizing ephemera but I think I may have to try your binder idea :).

    • Julia Cusworth

      I hope it’s working for you! Our collab was so much fun <3

  4. Gilly Welch

    I love watching you make your collages, you make them look so effortless & the result so cohesive…brilliant!
    I shall definitely be sorting my ephemera differently now, thanks!

    • Julia Cusworth

      You’re so welcome Gilly – Thank you!

  5. Rebecca Johnstone

    Love this! I always forget about staples. I do these kind of pages most often in my ‘scrapbook’ which is kind of a junk journal of daily life, separate from my art journal work xx

    • Julia Cusworth

      Get some staples in your art journal!!! 😀

  6. Stephanie manic

    I love this! All of this! Can’t tell well but… your pages are so vibrant and strong that I want to make some now!

    • Julia Cusworth

      That’s exactly the response I am after!!! 😉

  7. Clare Davis Etheridge

    Yes! I am going to gather my bits and bobs and make some gorgeous piles today and hopefully I will get some good pages, thanks for the inspo Jules! I am totally inspired by this tutorial, all my cuttings are chucked in a box and the excess is piled on top of said box…….. I might need to organize!

    • Julia Cusworth

      Yey! Let me see your organising if you do it.. !!! xo

  8. Misty Granade

    Those are so fun!!

  9. Sasha Zinevych

    I think I could watch you flip those binders all day! <3