Ephemera (singular: ephemeron) -any transitory printed matter not meant to be preserved or retained over time; things that exist or are used or enjoyed for a short period of time.
I like to think of ephemera as short-lived art. Generally, it's made of paper or vintage items that have found a new life for a little while. Vintage postcards, photographs, maps, books, and so on make great pieces for ephemera art pieces which can serve as wonderful ways to get the creative juices flowing and inspire artists of all mediums.
Although the two pieces below don't credit the maker, it's fairly clear that the same person was working through an idea. That's one of the wonderful ways to use ephemera. Since the cost is practically nothing if you use items you have on hand, you can work on a series of ideas to get a clearer understanding of what is in your creative mind.
Collecting or pinning a variety of ephemera photos can also tell you something about your creative self. Just a quick look at the photos I've posted above, can tell you that I'm a romantic at heart. I can't seem to resist flowers, pearls, lace, ribbon. I love old books. I especially love words.
One of the things that I like about ephemera is that its affords an opportunity to work in mixed media. Anything goes! And everything wants to play. Granted, not everything plays well with everything else, but that's just an opportunity to start a new page.
Oh yes, this piece reminded me that you don't have to make a big piece. Just a little card will do, but feel free to start (or end) with a poster-size piece. Remember, there are no rules.
And finally, you don't have to frame, show, or share your work. I sometimes put together a small piece in my art journal. In fact, I don't usually "finish" my pieces. I should, I suppose, but mostly I use it as an opportunity to think through a process, test colors, or sketch and color for play. I start a piece, figure something out, and begin working right away. The ephemera gets abandoned, but it's okay since you can use it in whatever way works for you.
And to help you get started with paper ephemera, here's a photo of a terms with actual pieces to show you how to create them.
I hope you try some of these techniques. You'll find that it's quick, easy, fun, and rewarding. Or at least I hope you do!
Happy Quilting and Crafting