Fun Friday – What Izzit?? Ephemera!

I’ve heard the term “ephemera” a lot in penpal circles. “Do you like ephemera?” “Where do you find your ephemera?” “Can you send me some ephemera?”

But, as with many things on the internet, I’m left scratching my head. What, exactly, IS ephemera, and how can I play with it?

What is ephemera?

According to Merriam-Webster:

1something of no lasting significance —usually used in plural

2: items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.

ephemera plural paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles

We say that something has an “ephemeral nature” if it’s fleeting, something impermanent, etherial.

Okay, so that explains what the word means, but I’m still not clear on what it IS – in terms of letter-writing.

Where do you find your ephemera for letter writing?

If we understand that ephemera is fleeting, and not significant (for example, a parking ticket is fleeting, but IS significant in that if you don’t pay it, you can get into trouble and owe more money; a take-out menu or travel brochure is fleeting and not necessarily significant, if you’re not sitting in the restaurant trying to order or traveling to a specific destination for which you need the brochure as directions), then really, anything might be ephemera.

And that’s where it starts to get interesting.

It could be intentionally collected, such as stickers from a dollar store or stationery stockist; or things that catch your eye while “out and about.” My favorite one is coasters from coffee shops (not fancy ones, either; I mean like a diner). I like to color in the “lace” edgings.

My penpals have sent me fun things as well, and I’m starting to collect them. I’d love to know, Dear Reader, if this is something you curate for your own collection and if so, how do you store it? Do you organize it in some way?

“Can you send me some ephemera?” – what to send

Here are three ephemera pieces that a penpal sent me recently:

The two botanical images have the image on both sides, so they’re not stickers. They are thick, cardstock paper, and I could see using them in a collage or even punch a small hole in them and attach with yarn as a charm. The little firefly is clear, with the image on one side only. It doesn’t appear to have adhesive, but I’m assuming I could use a glue stick to attach it to a piece of art.

What about you, Dear Reader? Please tell me in the comments what your favorites are.

3 thoughts on “Fun Friday – What Izzit?? Ephemera!”

  1. I love ephemera! Some people send tags, or cards from boardgames. I like to send a little origami piece or fancy paper scraps. My hope is they’ll use the ephemera to decorate future mail, cards, or art journals, like I do.

  2. I collect ephemera to use in my art. I have tax coupons, trading stamps (S&H green stamps and others) and old subway tokens, just to name a few. You’re on my list to write, so I’ll have to include some goodies for you!

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