ashley campbellDIYdiy projects

DIY Project: ephemera collage valentine

by AshleyAnn


The mighty ampersand takes two things and celebrates how they come together. “You & Me,” “Bread & Butter,” “Sugar & Spice.” Not only does the ampersand combine things, it also stands alone as a beautiful symbol. This year I made my valentine a card that celebrates being together. It is completed with a missing heart on the front that holds our pictures on the inside. In magazines, old books, vintage cards and other ephemera, I’m always coming across gorgeous floral images. Some vintage papers and cards are stained and often only have small sections that are in good condition. I like to find ways to incorporate the beauty of older floral illustrations into more modern designs for artwork and other projects. After giving this card, it can be turned into framed wall art to enjoy instead of being tucked into a drawer! — Ashley Ann

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • ephemera with a floral theme (books, cards, postcards, magazines)
  • 5″ x 7″ white card (or 8.5″ x 11″ white cardstock)
  • scissors
  • glue stick (acid free)
  • frame with a 5″ x 7″ opening
  • photobooth strip (I made mine using the Pocketbooth iPhone app.)
  • Easy-Tack Repositionable Spray



1. Cut out your floral images. Small sizes work best. Cut out one small heart that will hold your photobooth picture strip.

2. Create your card by trimming the 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock. Your card does not have to be exactly 5″ x 7″. If you are framing the card, you just need to be able to fit the card in the frame opening.

3. Trace an ampersand onto your card. I used the font Georgia and stretched it a bit. You can create a stencil by printing your “&” onto cardstock and cutting it out. Trace very lightly with a pencil.

4. Begin filling in the ampersand with your cutouts. Place the larger pieces first to get an idea of where you want the cutouts before gluing. Decide where you want the open heart shape to be inside the “&” and use small pieces to create an outline for that heart shape. You can see my red heart sitting inside the ampersand in the lower left of the picture below.

5. Using an acid-free glue stick, apply glue to the back of the cutouts and then press firmly to the card. Fill in all the open spaces. When you are finished gluing, gently erase any pencil marks you can still see.

6. Spray Easy-Tack to the back of your heart cutout, allowing it to be moved easily while still adhering to the paper. Place your photobooth strip with the heart inside your card. If you don’t have a photobooth strip on hand, you can create one using the Pocketbooth iPhone app, your printer and some paper (photo paper is best). I saved my photo strip to my computer and then printed it on cardstock. You can finish it off by adding a personal message inside.

After giving your card, you can remove the photobooth strip and frame the card with the pictures. The result is a handmade valentine that outlives the holiday. Enjoy!

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  • Oh AshleyAnn….be still my beating heart. I adore this project! Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  • This…this is such a gorgeous project! I love the idea of the ampersand and framing it after it’s served its purpose as a card. Perfect!

  • Beautiful! It goes wonderfully with the other wall art. Thanks for sharing such an inspired craft with us.

  • This is gorgeous!! I can imagine some of the pieces pulling off the page too for a 3D effect!~LOVE it! I think I may have to do a crafting session very soon! Thanks for sharing!

  • This is simply aaaaamazing! Wow, thanks for this! I will try this for my mother as she will love this as her b day present in march! A couple of my girlfriends are launching a site with stuff just like this! Check it out if you get a sec guys, http://www.charmandinspire.com

  • Love this, but love this quilt even more… do you mind sharing more details about it?

  • Candice –
    Thanks for sharing the link to Katie’s work! Ashley in fact knows Katie well and they have worked together on Ashley’s site. However, as someone who knows the process of how this project came about, I can say with full confidence that Ashley’s idea is original.

    The choices of making it a floral ampersand were the result of several different decisions on both our parts. I, having never seen Katie’s work, helped Ashley choose certain elements of the project. The ampersand is a common symbol for Valentine’s Day, and the floral motif was something we chose because it was an easily sourceable content from magazines, and seemed to fit the holiday as well. Also, I’d like to point out that the work is in a different medium and had many other aspects to it – the missing heart, the attached photo strip, the mailable card.

    Ashley has communicated with Katie and she feels similarly that the piece is not infringing on her work. We do take issues of plagiarism seriously, and so I thought it was important to defend Ashley’s piece as unique. Thank you for bringing up the issue though, so we have a chance to discuss it!

  • Thank you for the great feedback!

    Candice – thank you for sharing a link to Katie’s site. As Kate mentioned, this project was an evolution of several different ideas. However, I am a huge fan of Katie’s work. I have tremendous respect for her and for her work. In no way was their any intention to try to copy or mimic her beautiful ampersand. Katie’s artwork fills my home and I am constantly inspired by her work. I had the honor of working with Katie on my blog design and have nothing but wonderful things to say about working with her. I have contacted Katie regarding the background of this project and how it came about. Katie is an incredibly talented artist with a unique style that is truly her own.

  • This is beautiful. I love the idea and am going to whip up something similar for my hubby for valentines day! Thanks for taking the time to show it to us:)

  • I loved this! Featured it on my Friday Favorite’s post today, hope you don’t mind:)
    Check it out if you wish!

    <3 Leney

  • hi ashley,
    loved this!! i’m planning on making it too; could you please tell me the font size of the ampersand and the dimensions of the photobooth strip?
    and would glossy look good for the strip?

    i really need to know this before i can print out a stencil and photostrip so the sizes are balanced on a 5×7 card and don’t overwhelm the other.

    • marian

      i can’t speak to that piece, but it seems like there are a lot of people making work like this right now and i’m not sure if katie or haley did it first…


  • this is super cute! i’d love to know where you get your frames from. i’m always looking for places to get good, simple frames…

  • A refreshing take on collage. Great idea with a variety of applications. Might try a first name initial for namedays using motifs characteristic of the person. Thanks for sharing!

  • @ marian,if you google floral ampersand you will see scads of images of such projects, designs, paintings – i remember them from the 70’s so lets just remember we’re all influenced by great artists even subconsciously. Just look at another iconic sign, the peace sign interpreted many times over and many times with flowers by the way. I live in Italy and I see evidence of the greatest artists being influenced by the least and vice versa at every turn i take. Hopefully they are influencing me too and who knows i may impove on their ideas ;) thank you everyone @ design sponge you’re amazing!

  • Very pretty! My step-daughter is getting married this July, and I think this would make a lovely gift. Maybe her new last initial. Lots of ideas now!

  • This is so beautiful! I posted it (with credits) in my recent DIY roundup on my blog, The Nectar Collective (thenectarcollective.com). Thanks for the great idea! I am definitely going to do some thrifting and make these :)

  • I found this on Pinterest a while ago .. It has taken me sooooo long to track it’s origin down ! I should have know it would be DS ! It’s incredible ! It’s a beautiful modern take on decoupage .. Stunning .. x