Tag Archives: tutorials

The Cheater’s Guide to Scrapbooking Ephemera

There’s a rumor going around that it’s hard to include ephemera (memorabilia) on pages.

They say it makes the page ugly, or it’s hard to work it in with your favorite papers and products.

Well, I have some secrets for how to include all those rich bits of life while still knocking out fantastic layouts.

If you’ve struggled at all with ephemera and memorabilia, consider this your cheater’s guide…

Fold Double-Sided Patterned Paper and Slip It In.

We Are the Tooth Fairy (full spread)

Most of the time I don’t hide it (see below), but there is some seriously ugly ephemera inside this super cute pocket.

We Are the Tooth Fairy (closeup)

There’s some kind of gunk on it, and it’s hard to make sense of it without a back-story anyway. The story makes more sense if you just read the journaling. But the precious handwriting and the real item that went back-and-forth between our own hands is here for my son to enjoy when he’s delivering money for the teeth of his own babies.

Since the ephemera is 8.5 inches wide, I cut patterned paper to the same width, folded it so the inside of the back back would show above the front, and punched a half circle. This allows the ephemera to peek out so you know it’s there. Then I stuck it into an 8.5×11 page protector, which I then cut down to the proper height.

We Are the Tooth Fairy (full spread, pg. 3)

When you do this you have an excuse to use even more of your favorite paper supplies!

Hold It In Place Without Adhesives.

My 3rd Birthday

If you don’t have photo turns, try clear photo corners or large-sized brads instead and let the ephemera sit (un-pierced) on top of the brad stems, but underneath the edge of brad.

Lisa Noell (pg4)

I did something similar to this with this original photo. Three of the corners sit in clear photo corners. One corner is held in by the beak of a cute wood veneer bird. That part of the bird is not adhered, so you can slip photo out of it.

Dominate the Ugly with the Beautiful.

Declared Intentions

Granted, I partially hid the ephemera in an envelope, since it’s 3 tiny notes torn from corners of scrap paper. But I also wanted those pieces to peek out. And as you see, the biggest piece that shows itself is a rather hideous super-bright yellow.

Does it ruin the page?

It doesn’t, for two reasons…

  1. There’s enough of all the other colors that they dominate it.
  2. As we learned in my video tutorial #182 – How to Make a Misfit Photo Work, you can make any monstrosity disappear by putting it in or near the middle.

Declared Intentions (closeup)

Design Your Page Around It.

Love Potion #9 (closeup)

Oh yeah — here’s another piece of ephemera in that same hideous bright yellow. Sometimes you just can’t choose what your family members write their treasures on.

And this note, with Izzy’s addition to my grocery list, is really a treasure. How sad if I had chosen not to scrapbook it because the color is ugly.

I decided to go with the crazy color and find another, more palatable, vibrant hue to accent it.

Leonardo da Vinci

Here’s another example of working the ephemera right into the design. I started with my main design pieces: two photos and the torn drawing. I formed them into a structure: a visual triangle, and designed the rest of the page around it.

Want to know how the ephemera adds to the design, instead of detract from it?

  • The ephemera provides the title.
  • The top edge leads the eye to the focal point photo.
  • The bunting embellishment leads the eye to the drawing.
  • The torn edge leads the eye to the bottom photo.

love SHARE (closeup)

On this layout I worked with the post-it note from my son as if it were a second photo.

Make It Open-able.

Symphony (closeup)

We all have programs.

Make the inside easily accessible by cutting slits in the page protector around the top, bottom, and open side of the program. To make it even easier to open, attach the plastic and front of the program with an embellished clip so that the top of the click sticks out of the protector.

Symphony (closeup)

You can work the program into the design of the page by adding embellishments over both the inside of the program, and the background paper. From a design standpoint, this anchors the program to the page so it doesn’t feel like it’s plopped on — a common reason scrapbookers avoid ephemera (unnecessarily!).

Give it it’s own page protector as a pocket.

Lisa Noell (pg3)
This newspaper article sits in a 6×6 page protector. No adhesive necessary.

And thank goodness, as adhesive would ruin this 40 year old treasure my mom clipped and made notes on.

Underneath this protector is a 12×12 pocket that holds four more pieces of valuable ephemera. Both protectors have patterned paper inside, but nothing is taped.

Lisa Noell (pg1)

Embellish the Outside of the Protector.

Tell Tale Heart
This is a great way to keep the ephemera in it’s original condition, make it easily removable, but still have decoration.

Treat It Like a Focal Point Photo.

Dance Company Description
At the beginning of a dance year, our studio put out a handbook that let’s dance parents know our standards, and gives descriptions of the teams their dancers might aspire to being in. If you or your child is on a team, in a club, or part of an organization, you probably have descriptions available somewhere too.

I love organization descriptions because someone else has already done the writing for you, and that person has better knowledge of the description than we do.

Make a Pocket From a Screen-Printed Transparency.

Tiny Baby

I put the “pretty” ephemera on the main page, as part of the overall design. Then I made a 6×12 page on the right for the not so pretty stuff.

Alter It

Here’s a super thick program. I tore out the non-relevant pages (there were many).
NYCDA - inside program
Here’s a super thick program. I tore out the non-relevant pages (there were many).

Then to bring attention to the most important page (with Trinity’s dances) I glued her convention bracelet in as a book mark. On a part of a page that was insignificant I added a journaling box.

Show It Off, Bare-Naked.

When you turn the page (the program inside of a page protector) you see an award certificate. There’s nothing added to it at all — it’s bare naked in it’s original condition.

Notice how I took the green-blue color from the certificate and made it the accent color of the opposite page to make the whole spread flow.

Make It Your Background

Owl City: First Concert
I cut a concert t-shirt down to 12×12 and adhered it to cardstock. Then I added my photo and goodies right on top.

Of course, none of this is really cheating.

But if you want to pin this to your Pinterest wall it can still be your guide. Maybe we should call the the Expert’s Ephemera Guide instead of the Cheater’s Guide.

Want to be an expert at including the real scraps of life in your scrapbooks, and give your stories texture and intimacy? Go match your ephemera with your scrap-able photos and start scrapbooking them together using any one of the methods above.

It’ll add a whole new layer of realness and story that you will always love.

Want some inspiration to listen to as you give it a try right now?

Hear me talk with three other well-loved scrapbookers about how they use ephemera on the Paperclipping Roundtable.

Shine On,

P.S.> A majority of the scrapbook pages in this article were assembled on video in tutorials for the Paperclipping Members. Think you might like to watch them?

Click here for info!

How To Get More Impact With Less Effort


A couple weeks ago during Paperclipping Live!, an audience member suggested I place a flower underneath the metal clock that I would be adding to my page as an embellishment. I love the idea of placing a metal clock on top of a soft flower — that is exactly the kind of contrast-layering that excites me. But I didn’t want to do it this time. Why not? I explained to the audience that because the paper underneath was a busy floral pattern, the flower would have little impact. It would look fine, but it’s curving petals would only be minimally detectable above the curving lines on the patterned paper.

Then I showed some patterned paper with graph lines — monotone paper with straight lines that would contrast with the curving organic lines of the flower — and explained that setting the clock on top of a flower, on top of the graph paper, would have great impact! It would definitely be worth it in that case!

This is a concept Izzy and I use for business decisions, and it’s one I have often used while scrapbooking, but I never thought to actually verbalize it until that night during Paperclipping Live! At that moment I decided to make it another of my scrapbooking mantras . . .

Invest in actions that cause maximum impact with minimal effort.

You have a finite amount of time, resources, and attention. How can you focus on the actions that will make a difference?

  • Ignore the temptation to keep adding embellishments, just because you have embellishments that match the colors or the theme. If the page looks good with what you’ve already placed on it, call it done and move on.
  • Use fewer photos on your scrapbook pages — just enough to tell the story. Satisfy yourself with enjoying the rest of the photos on your computer, on your blog, or as a framed slide show.
  • When deciding whether to fix something that isn’t as perfect as you wish, determine how impactful it would be to “perfect” the problem. If it would make a huge impact, it’s probably worth the effort. If the impact would be small, then why bother?
  • Buy scrapbook items that are versatile for a number of layout subjects, rather than specific themed subjects. Buy letters stickers in classic fonts, and in colors like black, white, or brown –colors that will work on any page, with any color scheme.

Next week’s video tutorial will highlight one product I have used again and again, in multiple ways, and with multiple styles. It is a tiny little embellishment that has had enormous impact!

This episode will be for the Paperclipping Members. Now that you know the topic, you can decide if this is the right time to get your membership, and whether a membership will be the impact you need to make your scrapbooking even more personal and more unique. Take a look at the details here.

Weekly Roundup

Heads Up!

  • Paperclipping Live! – This live scrapbooking show is every Tuesday at 6:30pm PST. Are you free?

Last week, one of the Paperclipping Members, Karen, was feeling stuck and unhappy with a few layouts. She took advantage of my offer to Paperclipping Members: If you have a design problem, you can send me a picture of your layout and a description of what is bothering you. I will share your page with the audience during Paperclipping Live! and give you some personalized design tips. You don’t have to be present during the live show — there will be a recording for you to watch when you’re available!

Sometimes we can use a little help applying the principles in the videos to our own projects. I want to make sure our members get as much out of the videos as possible! And if you’re not a member but have been enjoying all the other stuff we have going on around here, I want to thank you for participating and contributing your own thoughts and ideas!

Best Regards,