Jumping into the digital ephemera arena

digital ephemera

I enjoy making vintage junk journals. Every time I make one, I try to think of creative ways to embellish the pages. I don’t like to write or “journal” in my books, I prefer to add collages or do artwork to fill the pages. In turn they become tomes of paper treasures that I have fallen in love with.

Over the years I’ve been collecting paper ephemera that I use in my collages. When I go to antique malls or search online, I’m looking for papers that are typically from 1945 to the 1800s. I look for receipts, postcards, letters, legal documents, photos, trade cards and advertisements, calling cards, and currency.

ephemera organizer

Now that I’ve got a nice collection, I have a better selection to choose from when collaging pages in my vintage journals. Sometimes I scan pieces before I use them, other times I don’t. There have been a few times when I have found that there are a few pieces that I like to use again and again because they are so interesting to look at, and so versatile. It is these pieces that I have decided to make public and sell as collections through Etsy.

Thus far I have created two collections: the Theo Jessup Collection and the Lucile Holt Collection. Each one consists of 4 pages and each cost $4 to download.


Here’s my Etsy site, if you are interested in seeing them:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/mellowmiller

Additionally, I made a video on how I use them to give people ideas on how they might use them in their own projects:

The pieces in the Theo Jessup Collection were inspired from making journals using the digital download kit Gentlemen and Scholars from Ephemera’s Vintage Garden. I’ve made two journals with this kit and have been really happy with the results of adding my pieces to this amazing journal kit. Debbie-Anne Parent, the artist who creates many wonderful digital kits at Ephemera’s Vintage Garden, recently posted a video showing how she integrated my ephemera pieces in a journal she made with her Gentlemen and Scholars kit. It’s such a lovely book and am so pleased to have contributed a little bit to its charm.

The Process of making a junk mail journal

junk mail process

After I collected and bound some pieces of junk mail, I couldn’t decide what to do with it or how I wanted to decorate it. So I decided I would make two and leave one with simply being collaged, while with the other I would also collage it but then add some paint and do some additional embellishing, such as rubber stamping or stenciling.

This turned out to be a useful idea. There are qualities I like in both stages so having that documented is great.

This is the first booklet, which doesn’t have any painting or stamping in it:

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This is the second booklet with the painting and stamping:

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I originally wrote about this second booklet here, where I posted pictures of what it looked like without the additions. I’m not sure what looks better. I think I like the acrylic paint. It just adds another layer of interest.

I went back and made a third booklet, this one just with the junk mail — no embellishing. That’s good to have on hand as well.

Of course I made a video about the process with all 3 journals:

Summer projects with the kids

The kids and I are home, mostly, through the summer. The kids had a wonderful vacation down in San Diego with their grandparents for the majority of July, but now we have another 3 weeks before school starts.

We’ve been doing plenty of crafts to keep us busy. Here’s what our dining room table looks like at the moment:

dining table with crafts

Everybody has got something going. V who is heading into the 2nd grade has a blank notebook she painted entirely with watercolors and now is embellishing it.


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T is now 4.5 years old and heading to pre-kindergarten. He also has a notebook with blank pages that have been painted, glittered, covered with stickers or simply drawn in with markers.


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I like that they have books where they do art, and then put them away at the end of the day. This way we can store it away easily and I can hand them over to their care as they get older.

I have a few projects out as well. I’m working on a few “journals for no reason”, inspired by Shannon Green, and of course, one of my collage journals out. I had a few pieces picked up from San Diego. IMG_8258


Koby stole the markers a time or two but we always managed to get them back. He likes to do what we are doing, even if it’s done passively.


An Album of envelopes

envelope albumI order prints online through Shutterfly. When they arrive, they come in sturdy pocket envelopes that leave me reluctant to throw them away. I’ve been saving them and decided to make a book, an album with these envelopes.

Envelope album 2

Since I’ve been inspired to do make my own books and albums using a variety of craft papers I have at home, this project was relatively straight forward to do. I stacked my envelopes on top of each other and measured their combined width. Then, using heavy card stock, I decided the size of the spine and cut that out along with the covers.

album spine covers

I used pretty patterned paper (the same as V’s bird shelf) and lined the cover. I used the hidden hinge binding system for attaching the envelopes. This is a picture I found online. I used beige-colored paper.

hidden hinge

V uses this envelope album for storing her little projects or extra scraps for future projects.

envelope album 3

Making a birdhouse shelf


For a couple of months now I’ve been thinking about a small shelf for odds and ends in V’s room. I saw this “songbird shelf” online and realized that was exactly what I wanted. I just didn’t want to pay $189 for it.

songbird shelf

Since I had the experience of making my Kathy Orta Voyager Box using heavy card stock, I knew I could make something similar to the songbird shelf.


I made two boxes 10.5 x 9.5 inches and stacked them on top of each other. Then I made another box at the base and created a drawer. Last was the roof. The whole thing is rather tall at almost 3 feet. The shelf spaces are a good size for V’s craft books that she has created. I measured those before hand to make sure they’d be a good fit.

birdhouse wall shelf

Of course my main concern was that the whole thing would be sturdy enough and it certainly is. Sometimes I doubled or tripled the card stock to make sure that it didn’t feel flimsy. It’s going to be screwed to the wall and I don’t have any worries that it is going to tear to break.

I wanted a drawer at the base. V picked the pull handle.



And there is a nice space for Hoot the Owl.


I even finished up the backing. I was glad to put all of my scraps to use.


Paper project – Voyager box

Voyager box

Kathy Orta is a force to be reckoned with in the paper crafts arena. I saw a youtube series she did on making what she calls a voyager box, and decided that I wanted to make one as well.

I don’t know if it was the design I liked or that you could decorate it with all kinds of papers, but I was compelled to make it. Four months later and it’s finished. I could only tackle bits and pieces at a time since I’m so busy with the kids through the day. It was a very long project — lots of steps. Longer than what I typically like to tackle. I have enough card stock to make a second and I will hold on to it in the hopes that someday I’ll complete another.

box inserts

I’ve got it on my desk. It looks nice. I’m happy with it. I love the glass knob on the drawer. That was a nice touch.

desk voyager box

Here are a bunch of pictures from all different angles.





Paper project – Flip card

mini album flip book

Youtube is such a great thing for tutorials. I don’t know when or how I came to be interested in doing paper crafts, but I find myself drawn to it more than sewing lately.

Anyway, I found a nice tutorial on youtube for a mini album flip page.

I’ve used this idea to make cards. I like the idea of having lots of pockets inside to tuck little things away.

mini album pages

I made one for my nephew on his birthday. They can be very time consuming but I find if I limit myself to a range of time I can turn something out that I like.

I discovered a craft shop

Panta Rhei craft shop

While in Bratislava visiting some friends, they pointed me to a book store and craft shop located inside. I was curios to see if it really was a store that carried supplies. And it was! Panta Rhei is probably the biggest book store chain in Slovakia. I had been in a couple of their book stores in Bratislava a few years ago, but having a small craft store inside is new.

The section in the book store dedicated to crafts was small, but it was crammed with all kinds of things like beads, paints, colored paper, styrofoam shapes, adhesives, brushes, and all kinds of wood objects like boxes or picture frames for painting.

Since I received a 50 euro bill for my birthday (thanks Uncle P!), I spent a good portion of it there. Here are some pictures of what I got.

Craft supplies1

craft supplies2

I found some chipboard books in interesting shapes, and some chipboard frames I want to use for a Christmas present. I also found mosaic pieces made from acrylic. I really don’t know what I’ll do with these but I thought V and I could glue them on paper in a design.

mosaic pieces

One thing I found interesting is that there seems to be a lot of interest in decoupage art, particularly from decorative paper napkins. An entire section of wall from top to bottom had shelves of packs of paper napkins. They were being sold individually at 25 cents a piece. I also found glue, made in Slovakia, that is used specifically for using with paper napkins.

Slovak decoupage glue

Well, “when in Slovakia, do as the Slovaks do”, I say. I bought some napkins, some glue, a wood tray, and some acrylic paints to decorate it. I’ll see how it turns out.

napkin decoupage

Craft project – Cookie cutter ornaments

cookie cutter ornament
Since the relatives have been quite generous with gift giving for V and T, I decided that I wanted to make something small for them as well. On the day of Mikulaš here in Slovakia, V and T got a ton of chocolate and gifts. In addition to V giving everyone the trees we made, we gave them some ornaments also.

match box ornaments

I found the idea on the internet (of course) of taking an ordinary cookie cutter and making it into an ornament by putting a wrapping paper-lined backing on the cutter and then hanging it with a string.

bell cookie cutter ornament

The ornaments needed to be in beautiful boxes and I had the idea to use larger-sized kitchen match boxes for holding two ornaments, and got a hold of some jewelry boxes for a single ornament that I wrapped in Christmas paper and silver ribbon.

match box decorated

I had extra silver snowflakes from my cut up garland so I used those as decorating the tops of the boxes. All in all they came out very nice.

snow flake on top

Actually, I think I liked the boxes more than the ornaments.

two ornaments in a box


Craft project – House collage

house collage

We recently bought our first house. Our real estate agent was really phenomenal in helping us find something lovely that we could afford in a very nice area. I wanted to make something for her as a thank you, something that she could hang in her office, and came up with this little hanging collage in the shape of a house.

On Flikr I found a really cool vintage map to use as a background. It was a scan and the original was an aged beige color but since I only had a black and white printer at home I printed it and then dyed it with a stamp ink in an “old paper” color. Then I used colored pencils to highlight some of the markings. I glued that on top of a small canvas the shape of a house.

closeup house collage

Then I drew in a door and a window with a drawing pen, added more brown ink around the edges, added some lacing stickers on the gable and for a fence, added cutouts of a bird and butterfly, a sticker of flowers for a window-sill box, and lastly glued on a metal key plate over the door.

metallic butterfly

The butterfly has a nice gold shine to it and in my stash of stuff I happened to have a piece of gold ribbon that I attached onto a ring and glued to the back for hanging it.

Once everything was done, I wanted to add the key for the lock so I strung it on a thin cord with some crystal beads for added color.

key with beads

We dated and signed the back with a little note, and when we signed the papers for the house I gave it to her. She loved it! When I saw her a couple weeks later she told me how she has shown it to her associates at work and how she really loves having it in her office.

It was a small way to say thank you for the months of time she helped us with enthusiasm and patience. I’m glad she liked it.

house collage 2