To me, my craft has two parts. Besides the actual creating and assembling, I also enjoy collecting and organizing the materials. When I first started, I just had a stack of magazines that I would forage through in search of the right element. As I began to collect an assortment of pictures and words that didn’t make it onto a page, it got frustrating trying to sort through the layers to find that clock face I knew I’d cut out.
Next came the filing system—hanging files in a plastic crate. By sorting them into categories, my pictures were easier to locate. With categories and a place to keep them, I sometimes just go on a treasure hunt to fill up the lean files with whatever strikes my fancy. Over time I have amassed quite a cache from which to choose.
There is an actual term for this paper I collect, file and assemble: ephemera. Ephemera is hand-written or printed matter, not intended to be retained or preserved. Those bits of paper of every day life normally discarded after its intended use such as calendars, postcards, greeting cards, ticket-stubs, programs, and canceled stamps. (Before you scoff at this notion of ‘trash collecting’ just note that large academic libraries and museums collect, organize, and preserve ephemera as history.)
Some interesting things can be found by being able to see them out of context. For example, the letters that spell “Wings” were cut from a box of brownie snack cakes. I wasn’t spelling anything when I cut them out—they were just pretty bright letters. Before tossing the box, I snipped the letters and added them to a file. When I assembled this page, they were just what I was looking for!