Convert Paper Ephemera to Digital

convert your paper ephemera to digital
convert your paper ephemera to digital

If you’re into junk journals, scrapbooking, planners, and other papercrafting I bet you have some ephemera in your stash that you consider your favorites.  Chances are, you are really careful about using it in your projects. In fact, if you’re like me, you might not be using it at all because it’s so special you’re waiting for the ‘perfect’ project to use it in. What if I told you that you could use your favorites over and over and never run out? A dream? Magic? Nope, just convert paper ephemera to digital files that you can print over and over again.

In fact, if you have a scanner, computer and printer, you can have an endless supply of your favorite ephemera pieces.

Total disclosure here, not every piece of ephemera is going to transfer easily to digital.  And some pieces might require a bit of image editing expertise. But the simpler pieces, like old magazine pages, vintage pictures and book pages can be as easy as scanning and saving as a pdf.

I don’t need to tell you how to do that. It’s simple.  But what about slightly more complex things, like library pockets?

In this case, you’ll may have to make a sacrifice of the item, but it’s worth it for an endless supply right?

For example, my daughter is a librarian and brought me home a small bundle of library pockets in several different styles.  I found myself hoarding them, that’s when I knew it was time to go from paper ephemera to digital.

I chose my favorite and carefully took it apart at the seams, being super careful to keep it all in one piece. Once it was undone, I flattened it and put it on my flatbed scanner. I ended up with the image below.

paper library pocket ephemera scanned to digital

A little digital touch-up

I could have used it just like this, but I wanted to be able to resize it among other things.  I opened the scan in my image editing software (I use Photoshop, but Express, or even PicMonkey works).  I use my wand tool to select the white background, and then save the image as a .PNG file, which saves it with the transparent background.

That’s it. Now I can open it and print it from Photoshop or pull it into Word to print it out.  Over and over again.  Because digital graphics is my thing, I’ve even used it to create new digital ephemera with vintage collage designs in my new Witches & Wizards, ETC. Add-on Kit that I’ll be adding to my Etsy Shop September 3, 2018.  You can see it in the video below.

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custom digital ephemera

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  1. DESIREE HESSE on August 14, 2020 at 4:27 am

    I would love to learn how to create the digital images. I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS & ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA HOW OR WHERE TO START.

    • TMarieHilton on September 14, 2020 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Desiree,
      I’m hoping to create an online course to teach how to create the digital ephemera images soon.

      • Eva on April 15, 2022 at 6:17 pm

        Have you created an online course yet for this? I would love to learn!

        • TMarieHilton on May 6, 2022 at 2:48 pm

          Not yet! Unfortunately juggling my desire to create tutorials and my regular work schedule hasn’t allowed me the time to create one yet. It’s still on my to-do list though.

  2. Danielle Ward on October 16, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    I would love to learn Photoshop or something similar. I collect vintage Ephemera and I have stuff dating back to the 1800’s! I cannot seem to get into scanner and saved digitally safely or properly. Anything early 1900’s that’s no longer copy righted I would love to be able to sell the kids on Etsy!! I sell on multiple platforms And would love to add digikits as well!!

  3. Sharon on November 14, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Desiree, I have bee n working on digitizing my ephemera collection. I would love to hear woabout your course!

  4. Donna sellers on January 21, 2024 at 7:48 pm

    Is it legal to make the digital files and sell them? If so what are the restrictions of age of item?

    • TMarieHilton on January 22, 2024 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Donna,
      When you’re talking about something like the library pocket, which I took apart, scanned and digitized, it’s fine to sell them. When you scan things from books and magazines it gets trickier. I have a bunch of digitized advertisements from old Life magazines. Because they are older than 1978 and the images I’ve digitized don’t have a copyright, they generally are considered ok to use. But there are exceptions and I’m not a copyright expert so to be certain before you sell anything please check with someone who is.

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