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. 😉
I’ve been a part of the Michigan steampunk scene since around 2009. My first event was vending at the Steampunk Expo and there I met so many wonderful people who I’ve gotten to know over the years. There was one couple I first saw there and then at many events afterwards. Though I never knew them by name for a very long time, I always knew them. They were always dressed fabulously and always looked so happy. This couple I would learn was Don and Sue Watts.
I was asked to be a guest of honor at the first year of The Motor City Steam Con and as their guest artist I wanted to contribute something noteworthy to it. I’ve made a lot of decks, but never a simple deck of playing cards, so I suggested that. Sal, the event organizer (and great chick), and I worked out who in our Michigan steampunk community should be featured on the trump cards. Sal asked if I would put the Watts on the hearts suit. By this point Sue was very ill and we wanted to celebrate this wonderful couple and all they offered our community. So Don became my King of Hearts, Sue my Queen, and their son Kyle the Jack. (Kyle’s wife Jenny is also in the deck as the Jack of Diamonds.)
Sue has since passed. I never knew her very well, but I knew better the people around her and all of them have nothing but incredibly beautiful things to say about her. I’m very glad I was able to offer this small thing to the Michigan steampunk community, who have supported me through the years. This deck is no longer available for sale online, it’s a convention only type item. But I do have the whole deck to preview here. I wanted to highlight my hearts and the story behind them for this Valentine’s Day.
On a sentimental note: I came across my great, great grandmother Meike’s sentiment book. As best I can figure it’s well wishes to her on her wedding day. It’s written in Friesland Dutch so I can’t make out too much of what’s said. It’s a beautiful book, two pages which are under my heart cards. It’s from the turn of the 20th century so it’s pretty antique.
So a five card spread for your Lenormand deck is really good for beginners or as a quickie for pros. Shuffle your deck and then think upon what you want to ask it as you cut the deck. Draw your first card and set it down. Draw your next card and lay it to the right of the first. Do this till you have five cards. The center card will be your focus card.
To begin, read the cards around your focus card. Gradually all the cards will create a picture for you. So my spread presented here is not random. It being Valentine’s Day I decided to do the make my gent peer over his book as I read this out loud spread. Ha! Or the Ohmahgawd look at that spread on V-Day! spread. So my focus is the Ring. This is an engagement, a commitment. To the immediate right is the Man card that I will say represents my gent. To the immediate left is the Heart card. Next to that is the Woman card, which we’ll say represents me. On the opposite side is the Moon. I was just saying this the other day about the tarot, but I love the moon card. In the Lenormand it represents romance, desire, intimacy, and dreams. It’s a good card.
So if I were to look at this spread and paint a picture for myself I see me and my gent and we are very much in love. Not only that, as cliche as it sounds, he’s been my best friend for a very long time. I see a commitment, which we have. We’ve been engaged for most of our relationship, though a legal marriage has not been something we’re rushing towards. That’s my focus card and I ask myself what I feel about our commitment. I’m quite happy with it and the surrounding cards (especially the Moon) remind me why I’m happy. He’s my moon in all ways, but especially in dreaming.
With the five card spread you can also go a step further and read the first and fifth card together and then the second and fourth. This is called mirroring. For this spread it just further sums up what I wrote above. So there is a little bit about reading the Lenormand and how to compare cards to one another and a stab at Valentine’s Day all in one! <3
The Black Ibis third edition is all done and formatted. I have a sample copy being printed right now to see how it looks. I’m very happy with the new look. A sample companion book should be here soon as well. 🙂 Above are some samples of the deck.
With the new year comes shoppe inventory time and looking over my yearly sales. It kind of correlates with one of the first questions I was sent when I started this site. The question was what things prompted me to feel a need to make a new edition of a deck? This is a good question, because in the beginning I was not sure myself and wasn’t sure if making different editions would be a good thing. Turns out, for the right reasons, it’s quite invaluable to the life and longevity of a deck. I’m about to publish the third edition of the Black Ibis Tarot and I’m going to share why I’m doing a new edition to help answer that question.
I encourage feedback on my decks. I must confess though, it used to be hard for me to get feedback because I didn’t quite know how to take a thoughtful critique as anything but a put down. It’s not even a matter of having thick or thin skin, it’s just realizing that a customer can offer me negative feedback that is meant to be used to make my product better and to take it for that. Not why don’t you love everything about my baby! as some sensitive creative types (like me) can get. Of course someone saying this sucks is not helpful. However, someone taking the time to share with me what they didn’t completely like about the deck and how it might be improved is something of great value and beneficial to how I look after my decks as they age.
For example: Card stock quality is usually the biggest thing I get feedback on. Individuals tend to vary on what they think is thick enough. This was an issue my old decks had. With my current printer their decks are made with standard playing card stock with a smooth finish. They’re made to be handled and the occasional drop of spilled tea. Since switching to them and reformatting my decks I’ve had next to no negative feedback about the weight of the decks. The feedback I get now tends to be how easily the decks shuffle and how they’re good for daily use. In one rare case where a woman was still not quite happy with the thickness (she admitted she was really hard on her cards on a daily basis and she’d moved to daily use with the Isidore deck) I was able to extend her the option to get the heaviest weight of cards my printer offers that has a super thick finish, which is not practical for all decks. It worked out well for this wonderful wonky tarot reader who admits sometimes more tea ends up on her table and cards than her mouth. 😉
Creating the second edition of my Isidore Tarot was very successful and it’s remained quite popular. I was hoping my revamp and second edition of my Black Ibis Tarot would be as successful, but it just hasn’t been. So I sent out a questionnaire to those who have the deck and those who had interest in it but didn’t end up investing in it. I asked what owners thought of it and for those who would have bought it what kept them from picking up the second edition after the first edition they wanted was sold out. Overwhelmingly I was told the deck size I went with was too small for the very detailed card artwork. Also, they felt the cards were too dark in coloring. And the solid colored border as oppose to the original textured border was really not liked. Lastly I was told there was a bit of a disconnect between the deck itself and my second edition packaging. One nice gent pointed out that when he first saw the ad for the deck he thought all of the artwork would be like the orange themed tin & book cover. He said he wouldn’t have known how colorful and pretty the deck itself was from that cover.
So I took this feedback and sat down with my deck and realized I agreed with much of it. The original size of the first edition cards was a custom size that was offered by my original printer. My new printer doesn’t offer it so I had to opt for a card size that best fit my deck, which meant going smaller. I typically don’t go for anything but the standard tarot deck size my printer uses, which is a nice size and easy to handle. It was going to require a far more time consuming reformatting of the cards to fit that size though and back then I just didn’t have the time. My mistake. I should have taken the time to do it right. After the feedback and the obvious decline in Black Ibis sales I knew it was time for a revamp. Click that little arrow for the rest of the article.
I enjoy talking about the creation process of my decks and I absolutely adore when someone gets excited over one. So it makes me a little sad when I find a reason to talk about a deck that I didn’t find to be quite so enjoyable or successful. There comes my Mirabai Oracle deck. I am very sentimental about this deck but I don’t include it in my portfolio or offer it for sale any longer. There are probably only forty decks out there in the world and I personally know most of the people who own those decks. So first, a little history.
In 2010 my husband was contacted for permission to include some of his artwork in an author’s new book. This person was Bethany Grenier and we became friends with her and her husband, who happened to live not five minutes from us. Through her we were introduced to fellow local artists Ted & Kate Jauw. We were invited to join their artist group to create a group entry for a local event called ArtPrize. Our theme was a circus out of time; a very steampunk inspired tinker toy type of affair. We each created characters for our vintage big top. It was fun, it was stressful, and ultimately many of the things we went through trying to get our event to the finish line was ten years worth of lessons packed into three months. It was very bittersweet.
A lot of my art was used for our circus posters and our group’s logo. My character was a cartomancer of course. I wanted to have a deck to go along with my part of our entry. So I made the Mirabai oracle deck. It was quickly done and was a combination of existing artwork and portraits I created of the other members of our art group. The only thing that was unified about it was the color scheme and our group’s logo (created by Ted) in each card. The card meanings were based on the Victorian language of flowers. That was something I especially liked about the deck. I also liked being able to create portraits of my new circle of friends. (Pictured above left to right Cassie Truskowsie, Ted Jauw and Bethany Grenier.) Click that wee arrow for the rest of the article.
The Isidore Tarot is my take on the classic Rider Waite Smith deck using J.J. Grandville illustrations to recreate the original scenes and symbolism. These are side by side samples to show details. Today’s cards are Death and the Devil
The Isidore Tarot is my take on the classic Rider Waite Smith deck using J.J. Grandville illustrations to recreate the original scenes and symbolism. These are side by side samples to show details. Today’s cards are the Page and King of Cups.
The Isidore Tarot is my take on the classic Rider Waite Smith deck using J.J. Grandville illustrations to recreate the original scenes and symbolism. These are side by side samples to show details. Today’s cards are the four and six of wands.
The Isidore Tarot is my take on the classic Rider Waite Smith deck using J.J. Grandville illustrations to recreate the original scenes and symbolism. These are side by side samples to show details. Today’s cards are the three and ten of cups.
This is a preview of a new type of deck I’ll start offering on Cyber Monday. This is a game deck featuring that old favorite Concentration. The artwork is comprised of my rather dark (and if you’ve ever read my writing that goes with them, sometimes deadly) pinup gals. I have an Isidore Concentration deck I’m finishing up on as well that is more family friendly. This one I made to answer some requests for a collectable deck featuring my art that wasn’t necessarily a divination type deck. This will be available tomorrow at The Attic Shoppe Trading Co.
The Isidore Tarot is my take on the classic Rider Waite Smith deck using J.J. Grandville illustrations to recreate the original scenes and symbolism. These are side by side samples to show details. Today the Hermit and Strength.
These are the first pictures I took of the first printing of my Isidore Tarot. The original printing was not really what I wanted. I couldn’t afford the corner rounding on the decks and despite all the papers we sampled the thickest one still didn’t feel as sturdy as I wanted once the cards were in my hands. I was so pleased with the deck otherwise though. It’s always a nice feeling the first time you hold a deck of your own in your hands. The second best feeling is when you wrap it up and send it off to its new home. Yes, I’m ridiculously sentimental with my decks. Of course now these photos choke me up because they were taken in my old work room. I miss my old shabby chic work room! I’m still working on my new one.
I’m getting ready for my holiday sales and Cyber Monday. One of the ways I like to make variations on my decks is to create mini versions. I have one mini version of the Isidore Tarot already, but created this mini version of the Valentine edition of that deck for a friend who is a doll-maker. I’ll have six editions of it available online mid November. I love the tiny decks. I have mock-ups of my Black Ibis Tarot and the Attic Halloween Tarot arriving tomorrow. I can’t wait to see them. 🙂
I love new projects. I think I mentioned recently in one of my card of the day readings how easy it is for me to be sucked away from the world into a new project. I have the start & basic ideas for three very different decks, but my main focus is on this oracle deck. This is a sample of the first of fourteen cards I already have done. It’s a lovely creature that is inventing itself. It keeps whispering for me to set down my shoppe and client work for just a few minutes and tinker with it but I know that whisper. A few minutes turns into hours with a Netflix marathon going on in the background.
I really do enjoy working with an established set of ideas that I can be either very straight with or sway a bit to my own tune. The Isidore Tarot was a deck I modeled on a very familiar and established system and the only thing I really changed was taking my favorite artist’s work (J.J. Grandville) and reworking it a little to fit within that mold; with a touch of my wonky thoughts. In this new project I’m focusing on Mucha (Who doesn’t just absolutely die over this man’s gorgeous work?) and withdrawing his women from that world and inserting them in my own and giving them a new face. Not an absolutely new face. Just going in with my artist’s hand and making them a bit more bright, wide or large eyed. I want each card to be immediately familiar and at the same time new. This is how I like to approach most of my collage projects.
I’m working on the system behind the deck at the moment. I have three sets of symbolism that I’m finding a way to work cohesively with one another. The only thing I’m having to work through is the desire to simply write my fiction around the cards and characters and turn it into a story rather than a deck that was created for the sake of the deck. I don’t know how to explain it. I like giving a well thought out mythology to all the things I do. This is a start though. I have temporary card names for each at the moment. This is The Woman with the Klimt Tattoo. More samples to come.
Six of my autumn themed Isidore decks were adopted this year, but alas it’s time to retire them for another season. I realize during all that time I never posted pictures or info about the deck here.
Two years back I made special packaging for my Isidore deck to celebrate the fall season. It featured the original artwork (The King & Queen of the Pumpkin Ball) that was turned into the deck’s Empress and Chariot cards. It featured that artwork on the tarot tin, the deck’s card backs, and came with an art print and Halloween Attic grab “bag”. I tend to have one of these with me when I do conventions or pop-up shows, but as far as the online shoppe it will be available again next autumn. Thank to the ladies who gave this deck new homes this year!