Today’s beautiful deck is the Mary-el Tarot. This is a gorgeous deck featuring original oil paintings by artist Marie White. From what I’ve read fans of this deck were able to watch its creation over a ten year period. It was published by Schiffer Books a few years back. Please take a moment to visit the Mary-el Tarot website here. She offers prints from the deck artwork. And you can pick up the deck itself here.
It is a rainy day here at the start of the week. Thankfully neither rainy days or Mondays get me down. I am a little apprehensive about the approaching storms though. So as I wait for the booms to come I’m collecting my thoughts over a nice game of solitaire with my Steampunk playing cards given to me many conventions go. The card backs are very pretty, but over all this is a simple Bicycle deck of cards. Now if you want to see a really cool steampunk themed deck, check out the deck from Steampunk Goggles. That aside, now that my convention artwork commission is done I’m back to card things. One of those things is reading Andy Matzner’s The Tarot Activity Book with a review to come.
I’d love to tell you that I’m out having green beer and acting a happy fool among friends, however, I’m having a quiet night with my gent where I’m not doing anything. That’s actually the most wonderful thing I can think of to do with my night. As tempting as green beer is. Before I start my blissfully actionless evening, I’ve been giving quick updates to my sites. Sadly I didn’t have the opportunity to get some new cards and deck recommendations for the evening. So instead I’m going to share a sneak-peek at what has me so busy as of late. Please meet the mock-ups for my automaton girl:
Now that the gent and I have moved to the Cincinnati area we’re able to be involved more with the local steampunk community. One of the things we’re doing is helping out with the branding of a local steampunk convention. The automaton girl was a request for event posters, but after turning out so ridiculously cute she’s taken on a life of her own. For the moment we’re calling her Bly after Nellie Bly, the incredible woman who in her Victorian day proved around the world in so many days wasn’t fiction. She did it in forty-two. I can’t say anything more about her future career at the moment, we’re still finalizing the posters, logos, branding, and that sort of thing. It’s a decent size job added to my normal day to day duties, so forgive me for my few days of silence. I’ll be back this weekend with regular programming, so to speak. Now go enjoy that green beer! Or, if you’re actually like me, some green Hi-C because you don’t actually drink beer. 🙂 Oh, wow, and ignore my toes! Ha! I didn’t notice they were in there.
This here is a good read for those about to tackle crowdfunding for your deck. It outlines some of the hiccups of using this method to fund your project. I’ve experienced quite a few of the pros and cons of using crowdfunding to get a deck out there. With the Isidore Tarot it worked wonderfully, though it was a really hard/busy couple of months with promotion and then perk fulfillment. Then there was the Tea Bats Lenormand that was meant to promote the deck and help my start-up tea business with my friend. The promotion was awesome, but I ran into so many problems where I ended up losing money on the venture and worried about knocks to my reputation. These are learning experiences that anyone new to the idea should take a moment to read. It might help you be more successful. 😉
A few years back my shoppe prepared to offer the second edition of the Isidore Tarot. We did some fundraising to get the second edition printed and one of the options was handmade tarot bags in one of these materials, and hand painted Isidore prints. They were fun to make, but the size and scope of fundraising like that means A LOT of work at the end of the day. I got really sick of metallic paints for awhile there. :p
I’ve been systematically organizing my many external hard-drives and with that task stumbling upon past work. These were the first prototypes for the Black Ibis Tarot’s minor arcana. Specifically the King and Queen of Coins. I ended up nixing the idea because they looked very close to the Sepia Stain’s minor arcana, which wasn’t a bad thing. The Sepia and Ibis are companion decks from the same story so there are some similarities between them. I want the Black Ibis minor arcana to be more unique though, as well as more colorful. As a result my dark King and Queen went into the unused folder. One day I’ll make a bat-poop crazy deck that is made up of nothing but unused or left over art. 😉
Here’s an interesting find, though a bit dated as far as when the article was posted: Photographer Teams Up With Haitian Artists to Transform Tarot Cards Into Real Scenes. The photographs are wonderful. This is a good, wordy article with photographer Alice Smeets about this project.
“The creativity of some photographers astounds me. Just when you think you’ve seen every creative, strange, and unique photo idea, another comes along that would never have crossed your mind.
“That was the case with Ghetto Tarot, a creative photos series created by award-winning documentary photographer Alice Smeets and a group of Haitian artists known as Atiz Rezistans.
“These fascinating images transform the mysterious (and, depending on what you believe, prophetic) cards into real life scenes captured in the ghetto of Haiti, using found items that the Haitian artists themselves provided and created for the project.” – from article
Being a bit of a comic book geek I’m rather surprised I didn’t run across this deck sooner. This is the major arcana devoted to Marvel’s Avengers. It’s cute, whimsical, with just a dollop of the gratuitous considering some of our Avengers’ modesty is only maintained by a perfectly placed cloth. (See Thor and Captain America ;p) So far all I can find out about this deck is that Julia Cross created it and I can’t find a website for her, not even a deviantart page. It is readily seen all over pinterest and tumblr though. It’s very well done, but given that it’s a fan deck I doubt it would be readily available for purchase without some licensing hiccups. I’ve only seen nine cards so far so I’m not sure it’s complete yet.
I collect bats. My favorite bat maker is Samantha, one half of the awesome duo Frenchy and the Punk. This cute guy of Samantha’s was adopted by my niece Stacy when she trekked to New England with me for a steampunk convention. Little Ricky here has his own bat-size Isidore Tarot I made him. He delighted in giving us a reading during a break photographing my niece and the deck for my shoppe’s catalog a few years back.
Today’s card of the day is Temperance from my Isidore Tarot. This is actually the first version of the card. There are only a few special decks that included alternative versions of certain cards. There were very few card designs that were a challenge for me, but I struggled a bit with the Temperance card.
As for the card itself, I like to think of Temperance as the just take a moment to exhale and relax card. It’s about patience and knowing how to calmly balance things in your life. When I see this card it makes me want to take a moment and give thought to what is going on in my life and what it is I’m trying to achieve and am I still on track for that? It’s a card of quiet thoughtfulness.
While on the topic of Le Grand Tarot Belline (from my AHS Coven entry), it would make a good beautiful deck entry. The original Le Grand Tarot Belline is from the nineteenth century and was designed by Jules Charles Ernest Billaudot who went by the name Magus Edmond. He appears to be a pretty notable cartomancer in his day. The deck was published by Magus Belline after he acquired the rights to the cards from Edmond. The version available these days was printed by the Grimaud Company in 1966. Doing a brief search for available decks they’re mostly to be found on Ebay and will set you back a penny or two. The Tarot Garden site has some information as well as a translation for this deck that is worth reading.
Hollywood has always enjoyed using the tarot as a plot devise, especially when it comes to spooky or supernatural story-lines. Case in point: American Horror Story Coven. These images are from the third season episode The Axeman Cometh. The card seen in the climax of the scene is the grim reaper from the Le Grand Tarot Belline deck. (Spoiler Alert) The murderous axeman approaches the witch who dares play classical music on the night he demanded jazz music to be heard throughout New Orleans. She sits at her tarot spread and turns over her last card as he creeps up on her with axe in hand. She whispers that she always knew it would be death. The gotcha moment of the scene is when it turns out another witch is behind the axe man and comes for him just as he swings his axe for the fortune telling one and we see the edge of his axe pierce the grim reaper card before the axeman is taken out by the witches. In this instance the tarot’s most improperly used Death card is a major focus of the scene and used for dramatic effect. In such cases no one is so concerned that the Death card is typically never taken literally. It’s a card about endings, change and new beginnings, among other things. I can’t fault Hollywood for their literal use of the very grim visual aspect of the card.