The 2015 spring issue of Somerset Digital Studio magazine did an artist spotlight featuring my Isidore Tarot. I was pretty darn tickled having been a Somerset Studios magazine reader for years now. While I’m of course partial to my work, the whole issue is full of gorgeous artwork. For anyone interested a copy can be picked up here.
It’s a sleepy day here. The sun is shining but the world outside my door feels distinctly winter-like. As I sleepily move through the house in my robe and wooden shoe *slippers I find myself in the kitchen absently staring at my plants in the window and looking past them to a moving truck in the neighbor’s lawn. Things are a changing today. I decided to change with them. Just a tiny bit. I don’t reach for my faithful owl cup to load up with ice and iced tea; I instead pull out my fox mug and turn to warm, hazelnut coffee. With cup in hand and eyes looking thoughtfully out the window, I might look like a woman in deep, introspective thought. Upstairs in the Bethalynne wheelhouse though the only thing to be heard in my thoughts is Yup, yup, awww yup… looks like we won’t have the anti fragrant smells of skunk-weed waffling through the windows anymore. God speed yee ole pot head neighbors. May they have better pot where you’re moving to.
After that moment of morning zen I take a seat at my desk and open up my laptop (this one is named Ophelia, my last one was Roy Batty) to start my morning rituals. Personal email is checked. Shoppe email is checked. I pull together my order list for the day and what products need to be plucked from their temporary cabinet homes. I put in an order for books and tins, give my Threadless tee shirt shop a pleased pat on the head because it’s doing so well, and then take a few minutes to answer a series of questions a high school art student has sent me. With that done I quickly move into my house and get whatever cleaning needs to be done. I can’t focus when the house is untidy. I then grab some breakfast, decide on which color of yoga pants will be my comfort clothing of the day, spend twenty minutes in front of Wii yoga, and finally select whatever Netflix series will be my background noise of the day while I work. This is any given weekday for me the creature of habit. So when I finally take a moment to draw a card and log more time in with my cartomancy studies, I’m not as happy as others might be to see the Wheel of Fortune card.
A creature of habit does not always like seeing something that represents change or the up and down times of a cycle. I’ve spent two years of change and working to find my sense of home, order and routine. I grew up in a very chaotic environment where change was always threatening. With custody issues between my divorced parents to winters with mom and summers with dad in a different state, my corner of the world was hard to keep still and stable. I embraced that chaos as a twenty something and traveled, experienced, and just plain exhausted myself on doing things enough for most of my lifetime. So when I finally settled down routines became my security blanket. I’ve had so little of that security as of late, I don’t want to think of change now.
With all that said, this is not a bad card just as change is not always a bad thing. Our lives will always be a series of cycles and things are not meant to remain at one point in that cycle the entire time. If an individual wasn’t presented with some sort of change to their environment they might not have the opportunity to grow from it or experience something new that lets them realize the routines we need to keep can always be made better by something positive and new coming into them. We have to work with the change and keep it positive. Be it luck or karma it seems like what we put into the world comes back around to us so best to put something good out there and hope it comes back around on that great wheel. The key is to stay positive.
This Wheel of Fortune card is from my Isidore Tarot –the special Valentine edition. Aesthetically I adore my automaton feline geisha on this card. Like with many of the cards in this deck I keep the basic symbolism of the Rider Waite Smith deck but tried to take a more whimsical approach to it. My dame of fortune oversees her wheel of hats. Each hat represents something different to her and how her fortunes will play out. She has three little helpers with art brushes in hand to help paint out those scenes. She has just a hint of a small smile on her face. She is surrounded by four fixed signs of the zodiac. My own personal fusses aside, this is a good card. You have to look at your life and see what changes might be coming your way. Have a good day!
*Towards the end of my last summer trip to my aunt’s home in MI I was feeling a little melancholy over leaving it again. I’m not good with goodbyes to begin with and I miss our apartment over her garage. We’d finally gotten it remodeled and much of it was devoted to studio space. I don’t like leaving my aunt or the family home that has so much memorabilia of my family. So my gent went out and bought me some Dutch oriented things to have in our new home when I returned to give me that piece of family here. It was sweet. These wooden shoe slippers though are obnoxious. But very warm. Especially when getting out of bed in an attic bedroom that simply refuses to retain heat.
Today’s card comes from my Butterfly Circus Lenormand deck. The card that poked its nose out of the deck was the Flowers card, sometimes called the Bouquet card. This is a happy card. This is a card about letting go and just enjoying yourself without worry. So let that long sigh out, realize how tensed your shoulders have been and let them relax, and joyfully do your version of the Candyshack gopher dance. Well, you can do what you want. I’m just all about that gopher dance.
This is a good card for the day. We here in southern Ohio are experiencing another beautiful day with the temp in the mid 70s. The sun is once again shining brightly. All my windows are open and a nice breeze is giving my home what will mostly like be its last dose of fresh warm air before winter. Tomorrow we will get the cold and rainy version of the storm that is a blizzard elsewhere and we’ll be reminded it is indeed just about winter time. Not today though. And, as it happens, this card also represents receiving something unexpected. The other night my gent surprised me with YMCA memberships because he knew his mermaid-wanna-be has been missing access to her brother’s apt pool back in GR. So tonight I’ll be enjoying that surprise with a swim. Yes Flowers, a good card indeed.
It’s an unseasonably warm 70 degrees outside in southern Ohio. The sun is shining bright and the birds are happily chirping away. During my morning mermaid swim in the tub my feline Ghost managed to not fall into the tub for a change as she attempted to catch dripping water from the faucet. My selection of iced pomegranate and green tea was an excellent choice. All in all a good start to the day. So I pulled out my Isidore deck –my happy deck– and gave it a shuffle and card pull and was pleased to see the Ace of Coins staring up at me.
For the Isidore deck I kept the Aces fairly close to the look of the Rider Waite Smith cards. A hand extends from the clouds offering up a large coin. With the four suits of this deck the elements are denoted by the coloring of the bottom border and the tinting of the images. The gold coloring to this card represents the earth, the element the coins suit is associated with. It signifies a richness in material and physical things. This card, already powerful as an ace, is equally powerful in its suggestion of a new business opportunity, a windfall just around the corner, or any manner of good things that might be coming your way.
I’d like to think of it as whispering that something financial may be coming my way or that a new project I’m working on will be a success. However, the gent and I are once again waiting patiently to see if being parents is on our horizon again, so I’m hoping the wealth that comes into my life is that. Crying, diapers, sleepless nights, and all. That would be a windfall for us indeed. Now I’m going to open some windows and enjoy this beautiful day before the last of autumn is pushed to the side by Miss Winter. I hope you all enjoy your day as well!
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but some things bare repeating: I’m still in the infancy of truly understanding Lenormand cards. They fascinate me with their curious array of symbolism. I think this symbolism fascinates me more knowing this was originally a German traveling game and from that someone based a system of cartomancy on it. Some cards in the deck can –at times– confuse me with their meanings as it relates to their symbolism. The Key is not one of those cards. It’s a pretty straight forward card.
The Key, as the name suggests, is about gaining access, having a breakthrough, or discovering something. I’m not quite sure as of yet as to how to relate it to my everyday using it as a single card read. Within an actual Lenormand spread I know the closer it is to my woman card the more important it becomes. The timing for the card is November, so that is fitting. It’s kind of a coincidental card to draw though. Earlier today as I was unpacking more of our moving boxes I discovered my gent’s box of (we call them) dormant keys. These are keys belonging to locks for tons of long gone doors. My gent keeps them because he believes the more types of keys you have the more able you’ll be to find the right one to open a locked door. *This card is from my Butterfly Circus Lenormand. I just got done watching My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and was inspired to give it some bling! Till tomorrow, enjoy the day.
New Butterfly Circus Lenormand tee shirts designs have been added to my Threadless Shoppe.
A few years back I had the pleasure of photographing (below) Boheme Tribal, a Michigan belly dancing troupe, for an art project of mine. At the end of the day they indulged me with a little card reading (above) for the camera.
I wrote this entry on the practical side of creating packaging for a deck. It offers a few suggestions on what you should consider as far as materials, costs and miscellaneous details are concerned. It’s the checklist I use when packaging an open edition deck. I get all crazy when it comes to the limited editions, but I try to keep my wits about me when it comes to the decks openly sold. I say try.
If I had my way all my decks would come in fabulous containers where you opened them up to find the deck lovingly wrapped in rich materials. Just getting to the deck would be like opening up the most gloriously gift wrapped birthday present. The companion book would be full color and contain not just the details about the cards, but also a serious of related trivia, art, and general beautiful page clutter. All of this would come within another large package of beautiful make and design. Yes, I want to be the fairy tarot godmother who touches her magic wand to a deck and a Cinderella scene explodes around it. I do start out with that type of scenario in mind. Fortunately for me I’ve developed a reflex that smacks me in the head in those times and screams slow your roll and edit woman!
Editing is very important. Toning down of my packaging comes after that and my open editions become more practical and affordable for my potential customers. I’ve learned to temper some of that enthusiasm by keeping one side attractive but simple and allowing the other side to be more over the top. Open edition practical, limited edition more extravagant. Sometimes I try and meld the two by offering a –not limited edition– but limited time sale on more unique packaging for a deck. I do this mostly for The Isidore Tarot. I have an autumn edition that is available each autumn. I have the Devil is in the Details special edition I created special for some of my goth-centric friends. This is my happy medium and the deck is popular enough for me to do this.
Ultimately the most important thing is the deck of cards. Packaging is fine but it means little if the deck itself doesn’t hit well with people. I’ve had a few experiences with buying a tarot deck that came packaged with all the bells and whistles only to find the deck itself felt like it was printed on cheap cardboard. Having gone through the whole nerve-racking process of card printing I know the printing part can be difficult, so I don’t fault the deck maker so much for that. It’s still disappointing though. I don’t want to disappoint so my first focus is the deck.
Of course, with all that said, there are a few exceptions to my personal rules. Deck popularity plays a lot into things. I have two versions of The Isidore Tarot – full packaging and just the deck. Just the deck is exactly that. The deck comes in a box and I include a organza draw string bag for those who prefer a bag over the box. I keep it affordable and put it one sale often. The fully packaged deck is stored in an organza drawstring bag within a labeled tin. I put flower petals in the tin because I just think it’s a nice touch to the packaging, not to mention I love my flower petal drawers I have as a result of that extra. It comes with a companion book. It’s an extremely popular deck and my baby so I like keeping it in nice clothes, so to speak. I want to make it available to everyone while still retaining that special packaging that doesn’t get too outrageous cost-wise.
This entry should be called how to avoid packaging work. I have my mini tarots sitting in front of me and they’re naked. I feel like I should put a blanket over them so they don’t catch cold! This one is done. I’m still working on packaging for the Halloween mini and the Black Ibis mini. I’m leaning towards small tins though. I love the idea of these tiny cards being in an equally tiny tin. Something I can tuck away in my owl bag and take with me. With that thought, I should be back to my work and start price checking small tins! 😉
Now that my mini decks have arrived I decided to see how my own Attic Halloween Tarot’s mini deck felt. It was a little slow going because I had a solid ten minutes of squealing It’s so cute and tiny! Once I got that out of the way, I gave it a shuffle and the first card I pulled from it was the Chariot.
With my Halloween deck there is no symbolism offered within the card’s artwork. Each card presents a scene, like you’re peaking your head through a window and for a moment catching something you were not meant to see. In this respect I consider the cards more of a meditation through traditional tarot card meanings. The Chariot card, in general, is a triumphant card. It’s about winning the battle and what you’ve learned from fighting the battle itself. It is about feeling your full self confidence when taking on a challenge and meeting that challenge head on strong and confident. There is also a quite literal meaning to it as it pertains to traveling. It might be a time to hop in your chariot and hit the road.
When I was designing this hidden scene for my deck the mummy came to mind. I don’t know why. I just saw this classic painting of a woman who has battled up and out of the tomb and now sits in a pleasant scene with her wrappings coming off. In front of her are the spoils of that fight and the travels she has taken since winning it. I thought it fit the Chariot.
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.