|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.
This weekend has been a bit of a very busy affair that is still going strong now that we’re in Grand Rapids house painting. I added a few cute little designs in my RedBubble profile featuring the Butterfly Circus artwork for the mice card. More to come after this little paint odyssey has ended and we’re back home!
Our night at the Ladies Literary Library in Ypsilanti was absolutely wonderful! Our host Acadia put together an incredibly beautiful tea party and she left no detail out. My best tea mate Kate and her husband Ted put on a wonderful show that I was happy to finally overcome my fear of public speaking by adding to it with a few of my Snapdragon Tea stories. The gent and I kept feeling harassed by something standing behind us. Kate went a bit farther by having this sensation being far more harassing, especially during her group tea leaf reading. It was quite a night. I even sold some decks. Now we’re back in GR already covered in paint. Aw, what change one day does make.
It’s been hectic in my attic! Back in Michigan calling my work space The Attic was for effect, but here I’m being literal. The second floor of our rental house is just a massive attic. One side is bedroom, the other side of the stairwell is my shoppe space. At the bottom of the stairs is the actual bedroom for the house, which serves as a studio/work-space for my husband and I. Today the attic space has tumbled down the stairs as I try and pull a smaller traveling vendor set-up for my tea party tomorrow night.
I go through decks quickly enough that I don’t always have a chance to get a look at them altogether. I set them all out today to take a quick inventory and took a second to give them a quick snapshot. It feels like a Halloween party where all my kids stopped in and I managed to get a family portrait. Almost anyway, there are still several different decks and variations of these not present. Still makes me happy. Now I have to get all these kids tucked into my travel case and go wrangle my queen bee costume from the closet!
|So today I decided to take my Isidore deck out for a walk and I drew the ten of coins card. In my Isidore tarot this card features a very dapper bird gentleman standing in front of his happy home of bird kin. All around them are coins that suggest good fortune. Not just as far as fiances go, but good fortune within our own lives. If things have been hard they may just be looking up. It’s a good card to pull from the deck and whether it predicts what’s to come or not, it soothes my frazzled nerves a little today. The countdown to our massive trip is down to its last days and soon we’ll be on the road. First stop Ypsilanti where my best tea mate Kate and I will help host a haunted tea party. Promptly afterwards the gent and I will travel to Grand Rapids to do a whirlwind scrape & paint job on my aunt Mira’s house. Where the funds for that are going to come I don’t know but I’m trying to have a little faith. So thank-you ten of coins, at least for this moment I can feel a little hopeful.|
|I’m very into O.O.A.K. items, especially personal creations. I had a phase where I was into making strange muslin dolls (mostly mermaids) that slowly glided into creating jewelry artifacts from some of my fiction. This latter one was fun because I was mostly recreating my cursed shears from a Snapdragon Tea short story. (The shears pictured at the end of the article for the curious.) Then I was into making custom boxes and versions of my various decks. After seeing the beautiful creation of my friend Kate’s Isis Oracle I decided it was about time I made my own handmade oracle deck just for me.
I was very eager to get this project started. I called it my Sunday Affair because I don’t get a lot of personal time to work on things I would consider a hobby. However, on Sunday I set aside a few hours that were devoted to me working on my deck. For the first many Sundays this work amounted to figuring out–not what I wanted the deck to be like–but what to even get started with to make the deck out of. First things were first: What was I going to use for my cards?
|Though this is the first article published here, I’ve written about ten articles so far and they stretch from one end of the design process to the other. I tend to write when an idea hits me but I also realize there should be some order to what I’m offering. So I thought it best to find a place to begin from and go from there. So we’re going to start with some basics.
I’ve been a graphic designer for a long time and one thing my clients really like about my work is my extreme attention paid to the little details. Before I begin a project I’ve pulled out my notebook and sketched out my idea, laid out my theme, and decided upon a color palette. You’d think that being my general nature I would have applied it to my first tarot project. Yeah, not so much. It was more of a passion project so I just winged it at first. There’s nothing wrong with that really, but it does help to go into project like this with some basic design ideas in mind. I learned very quickly that being thoughtful out the gate helps with the process in the long run.
First, give serious consideration to what card size or shape you want to use. There are standard sizes that I tend to recommend mainly because it will be easier to get your deck printed. Many deck printers have set sizes and templates for you to use. When you go with a non-standard size you move into the realm of custom printing and that generally means a more expensive printing process. It bumps up your packaging costs as well if you have to specialize it to fit the deck. If you have the resources though, hey, go crazy! That aside, packaging and future costs might not actually be on your mind right now. You’re in the honeymoon stage of just creating your cards. I love that stage. However, keeping your deck dimensions (and the costs associated with that) in mind at the beginning will help you better structure your card layout.
Another thing to consider is how your artwork will look on the different card sizes. The smaller the card the more compact your image is going to be. If your artwork is very intricate or detailed some of those details will be lost to some degree. I personally prefer a standard tarot card size, which is 2.75″ x 4.75″ or 70mm x 121mm. It’s an easy to handle card size and still large enough to avoid losing details in your art. This is my preference though and you’ll have to decide what you prefer.
Now that you have your card size settled upon, ask yourself: Are there going to be borders around my card artwork or am I going to go for a full bleed? A border is pretty self explanatory. Having a full bleed means your artwork extends to the edge of the card and beyond. When creating a card with a full bleed make sure to keep the important stuff within a set border space, create an area for a full bleed, and then the wiggle room for the cutting process. You want all important card imagery to stop before you hit the full bleed area.
Also, just a little side note to consider: With tarot decks I’ve learned that different people have different views on what they want design wise in their decks. I know quite a few tarot users who will cut off the borders of a deck if it’s just a solid white or colored border. It’s something to think about as you begin to design. Up to this point I’ve mostly used decorative borders that play into the artwork on the card. I like that unification of the cards. My first full bleed deck was my Attic Halloween Tarot and I still caved into my border-frenzy and made it with the option to get a bordered or borderless version.
Once you’ve gotten to this point and you’re beginning to format your finished art for printing, there are a few other details to keep in mind: Will your cards have words and numbers on them? You’ll need to pick out the fonts you want to use and keep in mind how legible they will be. I love a pretty font but not all pretty fonts are easy to read at card size. Research your fonts too. We have tons of fonts at the ready online but some of them are commercial and you actually have to have a license to use them. So I suggest going for commercial free or public domain fonts. Also, placement of your text on your cards is important. You want your design to flatter your art, not distract from it. Granted, this last tip is a bit of my obsessive compulsive order, though in my years of making and selling decks I’ve read many reviews of other decks to see how to better make my own. I’ve seen reviews of beautiful decks that get points taken away from them for fonts that are hard to read, clash with the art, or are poorly placed in the design. I like to approach the wording and lettering on my cards as an extension of the artwork.
I’ll finish this bit of tips with one last word of advice: Whether you’re making your card artwork traditionally or digitally it will eventually end up on your computer in need of formatting for printing. So remember to make sure your screen is calibrated. You want what you see on the screen to be what comes through in the printing process. There are a number of tutorials online to do this or programs that will do it for you. When in doubt as to if what I see on my screen will come out the same in printing, I like to make 4 x 6 inch prints of them through hour photo. Some photo machines aren’t calibrated as well as they should be but most are pretty spot on. I’ve found times when my work was much darker in the printing process than what I saw on my screen.
That is where I get my tips started and what I will leave you with for today my lovely deck makers. I’m staring down the path of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon while I make spirit boards for the attic shoppe. Buffy and October just have a nice relationship to them. Have a good evening!
I adore RedBubble. I love all the unique products they offer that allow someone like me, with a small budget to work with, the opportunity to design interesting things with this large collection of artwork I have at my disposal. In deciding what things to have as apart of my blog I knew I wanted to pay a lot of lip service to my Attic Cartomancy RedBubble profile. Like my blog, my AC profile is new and I’m slowly designing and adding products to it. So my very first design is devoted to my Coffin card from my Butterfly Circus Lenormand. Turns out the Butterfly Circus artwork is pretty versatile.
RedBubble has a new interface where your product isn’t just adjusted to an item, often making some items look wonky, but where you can upload specific files for that item. I’ve taken advantage of this by creating items with different styles of this card’s artwork on them. And in the case of some items where the artwork doesn’t quite fit with it, such as the leggings, I’ve taken the gradient and card colors to create an item that compliments the other items. I invested in a tee shirt and matching leggings to see what they’re like in person. Pictured here is their a-line dress. I love it! So I hope you’ll take a moment to have a look and perhaps find something there you like! More to come.
My card of the day was the Coffin selected from my Butterfly Lenormand. The everyday person might get a shudder upon pulling this card but Attic folk just smile, sort of subdued like. This is not an inherently bad card as one might think. It’s a card that signifies a great deal about a need of change. There might be an aspect of your life that needs change, or closure… or the completion of a cycle so a new cycle can begin. Change is a part of life and what keeps our lives ever evolving. Life needs change now and then.
Personally, I know for me this card represents the completion of a cycle. For a year now I have been in mourning, rebuilding and finding a new groove in a life that is so different from this time last year. Things have hit an end point and I’ve accepted that change in the current of my river, so to speak. The elder goth in me says “Right on… gloomy card…” but the person in me who loves life (as goths actually do no matter what anyone tells you) realizes things have taken a turn and are getting better, more stabilized. I don’t hate on this card. Plus I absolutely adore my coffin riding pinup silhouette on this card. I’m totally biased.
I can read the Tarot cards and believe in ghosts. – Mark Roberts
|I love this card but only in design. For some reason the mountain cards in my two lenormand decks are my favorites. Maybe unconsciously I wanted to soften the blow this card can present sometimes. The symbolism of this card is that of an obstacle. Something is there that is getting in the way. If I apply it to myself I’d say it represents the situation going on with my aunt’s house and the changes in my old neighborhood that are keeping her from feeling comfortable. I feel too far away from her to help out as I should. Getting her house properly updated and in good shape stands between me finding my peace of mind. The mountain gives me a little kick in the bum so that I stop just looking at the thing in front of me as an obstacle and start figuring out how to get past it. Maybe I’ll jump in my tea bat’s umbrella and let him fly me over it!|
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game. – Randy Pausch
|Well hello there! Welcome to my new site dedicated to all things cartomancy. From card reading to the history of these various card decks, and so on to helpful tips for designing and publishing your own decks to my experiences with my own extensive collection of created decks. There will be a little bit of everything so long as it has something to do with these wonderful little things known as cards.
First things first: My name is Bethalynne and it is good to meet you. On this site you’ll notice my entries marked as Miss Blue as this is one of my longest running nicknames. Blue, Bethie, Beebs, but my personal favorite is Miss Blue. I’ve been a professional graphic artist since the mid 90s and self published my personal portfolio online since 1996. Somewhere mid 2006 I began work on my first tarot deck and since then I’ve published eight different collectable card decks that include the tarot, the petite lenormand, an oracle deck, and a standard deck of playing cards. Each one has furthered my experience in understanding these decks and their histories, what they mean to people, and the instructional side of creating and publishing them. I’ve learned a lot over the years. That brings me back to my blog introduction.
Every now and then I sit down with my gent and bemoan my desire to be an expert in something to which he often points out I am: Cards. I realized this is quite true. I started out collecting tarot decks in my teens after my aunt gave me her Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards. I was fascinated by the idea of them but rather self conscious in the idea of using them to read from. As an artist I greatly enjoyed the artistry of them more. It seemed like a no-brainer when I decided to create my own deck, but it only came after I’d already included two tarot decks within a graphic novel of mine. I wanted to hold them. I wanted that piece of my fiction made real. I didn’t even know if I’d seek to sell them. It all led to selling that first deck though and the very complicated process I went through to get to that point. After that I began to study the history of these decks more deeply and started to research a better method of creation and publication. I’ve been doing this for the past ten years. I might not be an expert, but I honestly know quite a bit and I thought a blog sharing some of my experience would help fill that wee mentoring spot in my heart. 😉
I’ve been making notes about this site over the summer, but I have spent my autumn trying to decide how best to organize all of these notes so I’m offering them in a cohesive manner. I will be posting regular card of the day posts because these are how I’ve been learning to become more confident in my own readings. I’d like to share the process behind my decks and how & why they came into being. I have a wonderful circle of friends who will be contributing some interesting things as their schedules permit. And perhaps what I find the most important; I’ll be offering tips and tutorials for creating and publishing your own deck. This last thing I’ve already written quite a few articles about but I realize I’m writing them as they come to mind so there is a need to better organize them. So my first post is here the first of October, but the site itself won’t officially go online until October 31st. This gives me a month to work some of that fuss out in real time.
So thank you for stopping by and reading this far. I hope you’ll become a regular visitor and there will be something here I offer you find useful. This site is a sub-site for my main shoppe: The Attic Shoppe Trading Company – where you can order my decks as well as a few other interesting and related things. I’m always open to chatting or questions so please feel free to contact me of follow me online. My links are all up and to the right. And with that, this little cartomancer is going to get back to mancing the cart… er card? 🙂