Ephemera, Realia, & Embellishments

What’s the difference between the three?  Here are the Google definitions, just in case you’re wondering.

-things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.

– Items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.  “Mickey Mouse ephemera”

Visiting garage sales, thrift shops, estate sales, and auctions are a great way to find such treasures.  I also love finding vintage jewelry, pictures, mail, and postcards!

-objects and material from everyday life, especially when used as teaching aids.  

I think the term ephemera has a very broad and general scope.  Pretty much, if you collect papers, stamps, images, clippings, etc. and repurpose them in your art, it’s ephemera.

Now realia are objects and materials from everyday life.  How fun is that?

–  Think of images and pictures you take.  Print in a format you like, maybe like the old Polaroids.
–  Clippings of fabric or materials you like.
–  Anything out of a magazine, images or words.  How about perfume advertisements?
–  Flower clippings, petals, and pressed.  Magazine and catalog images.  Some dried weeds are so beautiful too!


-a decorative detail or feature added to something to make it more attractive.
-a detail, especially one that is not true, added to a statement or story to make it more interesting or entertaining.
-the action of adding details or features.

Craft stores have aisles and aisles of embellishments!  Always check the clearance section!
The ephemera and realia you gather are the embellishments of your work too.  That’s part of the fun, finding unique details to add to your art.

As you can see all three are fun and amazing to collect.  Each represents a part of your creative self yet to be discovered.  With every piece collected there is some purpose for it.  If it speaks to you in some way, SAVE IT!

What, how, where, do I use it?  Inspiration, collage work, mixed media, card making, canvas, just about anything you want to add a personal touch to.  You never know how inspiration will strike.

Here is my final tip – Make it accessible.  When you find these little treasures make sure you see them from time to time.  Don’t hide them away in a box of ‘someday’.  Maybe have a basket or jar at your workstation where you keep some of the pieces within site.

Here is a FREE SAMPLE sheet of Vintage Flowers.  Download your copy by clicking on it!  Print it out on cardstock, photo paper, plain printer paper, or vellum!

Happy collecting!

I’d LOVE to see your collections or what you make with my free sample set of Vintage Flowers!
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