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. 😉
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.
The World card being pulled from my Black Ibis deck as we come to the end of the year seems fitting. This card represents, among other things, completion of a cycle. It could be most anything. You’ve seen a major goal full circle from start to completion. It can also be most literal and pertain to getting out there in the world.
The Black Ibis tarot’s World card is one of the designs I didn’t stick with the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith style much of the other major arcana cards have in this deck. I choose to represent the worldly suggestions of this card a bit more literally. My card gal is a worldly traveler who has seen a thing or two. There is a world map behind her outlining her path to enlightenment. She understands things from a larger world view and her eyes express this. A top her head she wears a wreath (as oppose to the one traditionally surrounding her body) to suggest her crowning achievements.
It’s not a quiet Sunday. Today is shoppe inventory day. Tins, boxes, drawstring bags, flower petals, labels, books, and on and on, it all needs to be counted and compared to my stock sheets and make sure all my inventory is on hand as it is in paper. Then the shoppe’s website needs a good cleaning to make sure everything is up to date. It’s all busywork really, to help keep my mind off of tomorrow. It seems appropriate to draw the strength card.
The strength card is pretty much self explanatory. This card represents inner strength and using that strength to overcome what life throws at you. Not only overcoming these things, but doing so with maturity and thoughtfulness. That’s not always an easy task, especially when there is fear involved. Fear is an annoying beast. Fear has that need to undermine your strength.
I’m tangoing with fear today. I meet my new doctor tomorrow and it took a lot to admit to my gent that I’m quite afraid of the approaching morning. This is a conversation that happened after hours of fluttering around the house without pause. Anxiety has a way of doing that to me. He tells me I just need to be strong and remember what will happen is what will happen and that I’ve weathered through far worse things. Then he tells me to take a breath. To exhale.
So as I sit here taking that breather, I’m staring at this card and thinking about that. Life is not an easy creature to master, but there are ways to make it a smoother process. Believing you have the strength to take on and battle through anything that life tosses at you ultimately helps make it smoother because it helps keep that fear in check. So I’m going to meditate on that a bit before I start fluttering about again.
Oh! A side note. I love taking my card photos. In this one I have my little zebra succulent newborns. I call them the twins. I love plants and am learning how to force my green thumb to get green. I’ve found I’m particularly good nurturing succulents. They’re very just let me do my own thing and I’ll be fine. Perfect! I was quite excited to see these little guys (along with their brother Eric, potted on his own as he’s way bigger) growing. Little things do make me happy.
Today’s card is the Queen of Swords. Traditionally this is a no nonsense lady who is all about independence, intellect and using logic and common sense to make a decision. You don’t get anything by this woman and she certainly doesn’t mince words. You won’t be able to appeal to her empathy either. Emotions are set to the side when this lady is figuring something out or dealing with someone. You could say this is a card that asks you to tackle your question in a mature and thoughtful manner where you don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement. Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself.
The card featured here (modeled by the–eh hem–lovely Lizzy Borden doll) is from my Black Ibis tarot. I have a great love of insects, especially Praying Mantis. In matching insects to the symbolism I wanted (I stayed a bit more traditional with the major arcana and then strayed off the path for its minor arcana) a creature that was strong, pretty no nonsense, and one that didn’t let emotions get in the way. I know, I know, the lady mantis really doesn’t let emotions get in the way and she might represent an extreme. I just found her to be very powerful and liked her for the card. 🙂 She offers wonderful advice though and asks that you approach your pondering from her view point.
These are my candid shots from the photo-shoot for my Black Ibis project way back in 2010. Before that time I typically gave directions to my photographer and models and they did the shoot and sent me the final photos. So this was a lot of fun getting to direct them and fuss over their costumes. My Black Ibis Tarot features a variety of different models, but Rachel and Audria (pictured here) are featured on the majority of the cards. They were a joy to work with. Full credits and details for that deck can be found here.
I’m taking a break from what has been a very busy twelve hours. When running my business I always want things to be big and fabulous. I want my shoppe to be as wonderful as the shoppes I adore and have tried to model it after. This used to be easier when I had more hands on help from my family. I have cyber help from the family, but have to do much of the actual physical work myself. I’m also the creator of most of what we sell so that makes me chase my tail now and then. I guess you could say I get anxious sometimes and have doubts about how well I’m doing. I’m not sure drawing the Moon helps with that feeling.
I was a little conflicted when I first started learning about the nature of the Moon card. I’ve grown up with this fantastical idea of the moon being like a glowing mother in the sky, always looking down and keeping track of me. It plays into my writing and art quite a bit. No matter where I’m at I can look up at the moon and know my place and feel good. This conflicts with what I’ve learned to be the traditional explanation of this card. It deals more with things that are not always positive. It’s a walk in the dark you may be making. It’s having to set aside what you think is a very knowledgeable inner voice and instead embrace intuition. Today this card doesn’t really speak to me. It popped up rather soon after Sepia Stains Moon card, which I consider the two to have very different meanings.
The version of the Moon shown here is from the first edition of my Black Ibis Tarot. Aesthetically as far as my artwork goes, it’s absolutely one of my favorite cards. It has a special meaning aside from being apart of the tarot. The models for my Black Ibis Sun, Moon and Star cards are Meredith Yayanos, Zoetic Ebb and Nadja Lev respectively. Each of these women are incredibly talented individuals who I look up to and have had the pleasure of knowing over the years. When I asked them if they would be in the deck they requested these three cards. At the time they were working together on their magazine Coilhouse and they wanted to be my celestials. Zoetica, who uses the moon to represent herself, especially wanted to be on this card and I was happy I could oblige her. On that note, back to work with me! 😉
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! 😉
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.
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. 🙂
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!