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.
So I turned to my Butterfly Circus deck today because I’m working on getting more comfortable with reading these cards. Drawing the Woman card puts me at a hmmm spot because typically this card either represents the woman asking something of the deck, or a woman in relation to the man asking something of the deck. It’s more about the cards that come to be around the Woman card and how they relate to it. So I took another card from the deck to use with it and pulled the Stork. So I could be all ultra literal and run around the house chanting I got the baby makin card! I got the baby makin card! (Don’t look at me that way! 😉 I’m home alone most of the day and weirder things have been chanted as I run around the house. My plants and felines can testify to that.) I could also look at it as a card of change in reference to the Woman card, or me. I know as far as work is concerned it can suggest something new and creative is coming my way. As far as me personally perhaps a positive change is in my future. I kind of like the literal stork approach though. The gent and I are always looking to increase in numbers despite some rough set-backs. Given the strange nature of the day (I write this as the elections are going on between the two scaries and the mostly unknown third parties) the idea of change is a little scary unless there is a positive to it.
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. 🙂
Today I pulled out my Black Ibis Tarot and after a prolonged shuffling (I got caught up in a very heated exchange with one of my felines who likes to talk back and forgot about the shuffling part) I pulled from it the Magician card. Another good card for me as I start doing these daily readings. Just looking back at the process to create the artwork for this card shows me how things have changed so much in my life. How, creatively, I’ve come a very long way. In the beginning I only had a pad of drawing paper and some pencils and pens and my art was stark and one dimensional. Gradually I progressed to bigger and better things and perhaps the biggest was the day I was able to direct my models into poses I wanted while a professional photographer captured them for me. Then came all of the intricate details to create a scene and place my model within it. The end result was a snapshot of a place within my mind and there was my Magician. It’s a thought that works well with the many meanings behind this card.
My Magician doesn’t hold up a wand but a very old mechanical bird in his birdcage. This mechanical bird has watched generations of my family in his spot on the steps in my grandfather’s very old house. To me he represents all the wisdom and experience that has come and gone from that home. So while my Magician still wears a dress of white to represent purity, her red cloak representing wisdom and experience has be replaced by my mechanical bird. All the other symbols typically represented in the Magician’s card are worked into the crown on her head.
This is a card that wishes you to dig deep into those abilities you have within you and use them. To commit to an idea. I always have ideas and so many have never seen the light of day because I let them slip away without pursuing them. I’ve had to learn how to see an idea, take hold of it and see it through. I’ve had to learn commitment to the things I want to achieve. I’ve been saying that a lot lately, haven’t I? It’s kind of like the reverse, or hmm… more positive to the Knight of Swords I read the other day. I blame this on this website. This has been my private project for awhile now and it feels like a great project that ties into everything else I do.
The Moon finds me yet again, though in the tarot tradition. Today’s Moon card is from my Sepia Stains Tarot and is very different to the other moon cards of the tarot I’ve illustrated. My brief definitions for it in the deck’s companion book go back to older traditions regarding this card, but with this deck brief meanings also go along with the story behind the card. The meaning is better represented in the snippet of writing from the Black Ibis graphic novel that accompanies the artwork and card meaning. It’s how I see the moon as an entity and how I’ve come to view it within this deck. For me it can be somewhat negative or positive depending on how I’m feeling in that moment, but there’s always an underlining beauty to it that I always feel. From that snippet of writing:
“The moon… for so long she was my mother lost to the night. When I woke to my room as a child and my mother was not there, I would go to the window and look up into the night sky and see that brilliant crescent glowing above and I would speak to her. And I swear to you she answered back with soft words and blessings cast upon my forehead to keep me safe… to keep the fear and loneliness at bay. The moon… she was my keeper. Then life found me… the turbulence of war found me… and when I was at my lowest I looked up towards the night sky and saw her there in full bloom; this is how I knew it would be alright.”
A small note about the design of this card: This is the third edition version of the deck. My card’s character–Bone, the second sister–has some coverings where she was naked in the original. The nudity always made the deck difficult to get printed. Pop stars can move around nearly naked these days but I can’t get a piece of art printed because there’s the suggestion of breasts. Then one night, just as I was falling asleep, Bone leaned in from my thoughts and whispered: I’ll always be me. A butterfly might be nice. And so it was she had a little more depth added to her card. I find her absolutely beautiful and like her third incarnation a great deal.
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.
Ah, the Hierophant. Not even a traditional one but the very non-traditional one from my Sepia Stains Tarot. I’m not sure if ironic is the right word but it feels appropriate. This card represents rules and tradition. I don’t follow any organized belief system, though I have beliefs. I don’t even move through life in a very traditional sort of way. However, there are some areas of my life that I find I can’t be anything but traditional with. Typically this means family. I don’t care the circumstance or what is going on I feel a need to always honor my family and be there for them… even when it can be difficult. Right now I feel a great distance from my aunt and an inability to help her as I should be. I feel like my need for family tradition is being challenged at the moment.
I like my Sepia Hierophant. Her name is Bex, the book keeper. In my story my Sepia deck maker said of her “Bex was a woman I watched grow up. Her father was the keeper of the Cinder & Ash Cabaret -a very strange and wondrous place- and she would perform there with the children theater on Sunday mornings. This was as close as her father would allow her to come to the underground religion. For her part, Bex made her own rituals out of the time she spent there.” Bex made her own traditions.
I added two new tee shirt designs to my RedBubble Cartomancy profile. These delightfully colorful designs feature my Chalice frogs from my Black Ibis Tarot. They’re available in a variety of colors and styles. Just give the previews a little poke to see all options. 🙂
Ah my little snail friend from the Isidore Tarot’s Knight of Swords card. In the Rider Waite Smith deck this card features a knight with his sword lifted and his horse charging. There is no stopping him when he’s set his mind to something, for good or bad. My Knight of Swords features a type of rhinoceros beetle riding his mighty snail steed. To me they both represent creatures that once set on a path will see that path through even if you set something in their way. They just go go go even if that go harms them. That’s my take on this card. Go go go. Don’t worry about what you might run into, just see the idea in front of you, the goal, and move towards it and worry about everything else later. I hate to admit this card represents me far better than I’d like to admit.
I’m a goal oriented person. When I set a goal for myself I don’t let much of anything get in my way. On one hand this has always been a good thing for me because without it I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I have in life. On the other hand it hasn’t always made me a thoughtful person to those around me or those who fit into that goal somehow. I have a lot of responsibilities these days and allowing a goal to so blindly drive me like it used to is nearly impossible. This card is a very good reminder of that fact and something that was good for me this week, especially with the new deck I’m working on.
My new project has been helping me a bit this week as I feel the draining physical effects of something I’ve been putting off. It relates to a five month health adventure I went through last summer. I have to have follow-up surgery soon and I know it will be far more painful than the original surgery from last year. I’ll have to juggle my home and my business with limited hands on help during my recovery time. And I hate taking painkillers. They jumble my thoughts and make me a pod on the couch. This is making me anxious. When I get anxious I seek to lose myself in my creating or writing. I have no other desire than to tuck myself into a new project and let it calm me and tune things out, but I know in doing so I would let other things slip to the wayside. The Knight of Swords reminds me that I need to remember how to balance one thing with the other. If you happen to draw this card at some point that is a good thing to keep in mind: Ambition and a desire to fulfill your goals is not a bad thing when you find your balance with the things that might get pushed aside in that process. If you happen to see this card reversed it’s more of an impulsive push forward without taking the time to know your direction. Your thoughts might be scattered or hard to focus on. Or having nervous energy and no place to put it. Take a breath, focus, find the best way to move forward. This is what I’m trying to remember to do.
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!
I decided on the Tea Bats Lenormand deck today and drew the Birds card. I must admit my knowledge of the card is basic, I’m still learning it in more depth. It relates heavily to communication and negotiations. However, neither thing really relates to me at the moment and I’m not actually feeling anything from this card draw. I’ve been told this is normal and happens. So as much as I adore my dapper tea birds, I’m a little light on symbolism and self introspection today.
|There’s a lot I enjoy about creating new decks but my absolute favorite part of the process is dreaming up the deck packaging. It’s like some unique little holiday for your deck where you decide how best to wrap it and tuck it under the proverbial tree for your potential deck buyers. It may seem like a simple subject but there are all manner of tiny details that go into thoughtful packaging of your deck that start at material costs and work their way up to how well your deck is protected during shipping.
For me, I get a little crazy with packaging. I think it’s the comic book person in me. I used to love the special packaging or special editions of my favorite titles. Come to think of it, I was enticed to purchase cds I already had because I just had to have that special box set. As a result I am very particular about how my decks are packaged. This is something I’ve come to through trial and error over the years though. I had to learn the process of matching my packaging desires with my actual budget. So your budget is a good place to start.
What is your budget? Think about that and be very honest about it. Being hopeful about what you think you might be able to spend isn’t helpful. Set your budget and go by it. Some of you might have the resources to truly invest in the publishing expenses of your deck, while others have little to no budget and are just hoping to figure out a way to get it to market. So it’s important to know realistically what your budget is so you can decide what you can actually spend on your packaging costs.
What are your packaging costs? Make a list of everything that is going to go into your deck packaging per deck (break it down even to the cent) so you know what that expense is going to be. And I mean list everything. If you use a sticker to seal the end of deck box know the individual sticker cost. It might sound nick-picky but those little expenses add up over time. The more little expenses you have like that with your packaging, the more they collectively add up as well. I’ve made that mistake in the past by overlooking things like the shrink-wrap to seal up my decks, the labels for the boxes, etc because they were so small, only to find there was about a dollar worth of overlooked expense per deck. With a hundred decks that was one hundred dollars I was not expecting to have spent.
What all will be in your packaging? I usually divide this between limited edition and open edition decks. I worry more about what all is in the packaging for the open edition since those are budgeted for better sales. Generally speaking this includes a box for the deck, labeling, and a companion book. This is if you’re going plain. It’s your packaging, you can do what you want. If you want to make your own boxes to make the decks more collectable do it! Keep in mind the expense of the box materials and the time it’ll take to make them. Or maybe you just want to keep it simple, that’s great too. At the end of the day the thing that is most important is the deck itself, but it never hurts to have some nice packaging.
Where are you going to get your packaging materials? When you’re a DIY deck publisher the keyword is wholesale. You can find neat things at the craft store to aid in your packaging needs but ultimately that’s not cost effective. Often times many of those things you find at the craft store for retail price can be found through the same wholesalers they get them from. I’d advice looking into different wholesalers too. Places like Papermart.com are wonderful for supplies and seem like a place where you can get everything, but doing a little price checking per item you might find uline.com is cheaper on some things. If you’re doing plain boxes or custom deck boxes check your printer’s price. I love my printer but their custom box printing is a bit steep compared to other places, this is why I make my own.
Do you have a budget to have your packaging custom printed? Congrats! That is the easiest way to put some clothes on your deck. I’m currently working towards that goal myself as I move towards the ability to offer my decks wholesale for international distribution. Bulk rules apply here. Typically the more your order at a time the cheaper your per deck price will be.
So those are a few things to think about when you start to approach your deck packaging. We’ll chat about the many ways to get creative with your packaging another day. Till then, keep on keeping on. No, I don’t like that one. Stay calm. Enjoy autumn. That’s better! 🙂
Today’s card was plucked from the Black Ibis Tarot by our resident living-dead batfrog Sven. He brought me the Page of Chalices card. I love this card. Yes, like with many of my own cards I’m a bit bias with some of them and I’m certainly that when it comes to my chalice frogs, but this is a good card for me.
I have several deck ideas slowly marching forward but this past week I really fell in love with a new idea. The first cards have been wonderful and they’re coming with ease. The Page of Chalices often (in a full reading when upright) represents something new trying to find its way to the surface, or just something new, be it news, ideas, and the like. So I think it gives me a poke to let me know this project is a good thing and it’ll do for me what many of my other decks have done before it. Very positive. And speaking of our Halloween guest (who never left) Sven, may we introduce you to the one and only batfrogs site? Worth a visit!
|It’s Halloween! And Halloween seems like the best time to take a look at my Attic Halloween Tarot. This is another collage art style deck that focuses on only the major arcana. I took classic paintings and tore them apart, jigsaw puzzled them back together, and threw in a little digital air-brushing to smooth all the new parts together. The end result is my classical take on old movie monsters like the mummy, the invisible man, the bride of Frankenstein, and even a new character of my own: The bride of the Headless Horseman as my Fool card. There are autumn themes, secret masquerades, and of course the macabre.
I’m a huge fan of collage style art. When I was a kid I used to cut up magazines to make collages. I liked taking something familiar and changing it into something very different. Using classic paintings for this deck kept that familiarity even while making it something quite unfamiliar. If you get the itch to work with collage just keep in mind that all of your materials need to be in the public domain. This is (if I do say so myself) a very pretty deck thanks to the incredible talents of the reference artists. You can see the entire deck here.
Happy Halloween! My card of the day comes from my Butterfly Circus lenormand deck. I love the moon card. It’s a wonderful card for Halloween. It’s about emotions and creativity, romance and seduction! It’s kind of like (keeping with the spooky theme of the day) Morticia and Gomez Addams in a card. At least for me. This card suggests you dream and dream big!
Now, I have five gi-norm-us bags of candy staring me down and trick or treat bowls that need to be filled. The sun is starting to set and soon all the little witches and ghouls will be assaulting our doorbell with their candy needs. I hope you all have a very wonderful and spooky Halloween!
Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died. – Steven Wright
We’re still transporting the boxes of our life slowly from Michigan to Ohio with each trip back. Given my craft corner that is a pretty big task. And if my craft boxes are a small army of Tupperware, then my gent’s art supplies are that army’s kingdom. With that said, I spent the morning sifting through some of the boxes we brought back trying to find all the little nooks and crannies of my studio/shoppe that I’m still missing. I stumbled upon my out-of-the-case vending suitcase! It had treasures!
My biggest find in the case was two first printing Black Ibis decks and my own original Black Ibis prototype deck! I love finding old decks. I tend to sell out to the last. If I’m at a convention I try to hold onto my display decks but often if I have sold out of that deck someone will talk me into letting it go. So I was terribly happy to find these. I’m keeping my deck! I think I will make a special companion book to match the simple deck package and sell one and keep the other one for my collection. I’m making shadowboxes featuring each of my different decks. The other photo is my wonderful lil Gremlin helping me photograph my Attic spirit boards. Six years ago on Halloween my gent and I found him mewing and a bit dog chewed under our car. We knew the stray he was from, we figure he was about six weeks when we found him. Given he actually came into our lives on Halloween (and he looked like Gizmo from the Gremlins as a kitten) we thought it a good marker for him.
Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game. – Voltaire
|I simply adore handmade decks. With a handmade deck you can control all the variables. It’s unique, it’s personal, it’s all yours. Quite a few of the card readers who’ve tutored me over the years prefer to do readings from their own handmade decks. I have my own beast of a wooden oracle deck I add to as time has permitted over the years, but she is slow thus the nickname beast. So these are a few things to consider when making your own handmade deck and some ideas to get you started if you don’t know where to begin.
I think with most tips I give out for deck creating I start by saying get your ideas organized first. I don’t feel a need to be quite so gung-ho with that advice here. A handmade deck is a creature of trial and error to be honest. Even when you have in mind the artistic idea for it you never know how they’ll work with your chosen card materials until you’ve given it a test run. You can read my own experiences with testing materials here. I recommend sampling a few of the materials you’d like to use and see how they hold up to your art, however that art will be applied to it. Every material has its pros and cons just as each one will hold up to better or lesser degrees with repeated handling. This goes as well for the art on that material.
Your art. Not everyone is an artist and not everyone is confident in what they can create. Try not to let this hold you back too much. It’s your deck, you can make it look however you want, especially if it’s one of a kind. If you don’t feel you can draw your work out, collage it. If you do want to draw your own cards but get self conscious about how they look, don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m always giving this advice to my dad. She (here is where I confuse people, my dad is transgendered just for FYI) chokes a little when staring at all that blank space. She gets a little frustrated when she begins and things don’t look immediately right. Art is (I use this phrase a lot) trial and error and the process of getting to what you like is half the fun –for me at least. You might see it as a hurdle to be crossed. I’m just saying, relax, and see where it goes. You might surprise yourself. It’s most important it speaks to you and it can be as sparse or as detailed as you want to make it. Keep in mind a person who is an artist is probably having the same frustrations as you are. I speak from experience. Being the fussy perfectionist that I am I’m always going nine rounds with my artwork. So don’t get too caught up on this. Hit that wee arrow to continue.