So, just what is a paper ephemera collage? ‘Ephemera’ is defined by Google as, “items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.” Things like ticket stubs, ads, old letters and envelopes, sewing patterns, packaging, bubble gum cards… Well, you get the idea. I thought it might be fun to identify some of the ephemera I used in the creation of Serendipity.
The first thing I glued on were some 100-year old pages from a tiny new testament bible, followed by a small strip of a map from a vintage atlas. The red, pink, and green Oriental designs, including the one in the bottom right corner with the backward numbers are image transfers from Chinese Hell Notes. According to Wikipedia, “Hell money (also known as spirit money or ghost money) is a form of joss paper printed to resemble legal tender bank notes… [joss paper] is made to be offered as burnt-offerings to the deceased as often practiced by the Chinese and several East Asian cultures.” It’s very colorful, and covered with beautiful designs, making it popular with collage artists. The yellow and red circular design is from a different type of joss paper. The white crysanthamum comes from a calendar which was printed with pictures of Japanese antiques. In the right upper corner is a stamp from Israel, and the red and gold designs toward the left are Tibetan wood block prints.
And if you’re wondering about the title of the piece, ‘serendipity’ means something like, “luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things by accident.” That’s how this paper ephemera collage happened. I was looking for something else when I came upon the joss papers at the bottom of one of my storage drawers, and was inspired to create this collage. The whole thing just seemed to fall into place, which is often not the case. Sometimes I search and search for just the right piece of ephemera, and can’t seem to find anything that fits. This time I lucked out – serendipity!