this whole tarot thing

old ideas forming a new shape

Hermituprightcommercially printed cotton fabric glue-stick collage mock-up of The Hermit card from an unnamed oracle deck of my own device.  Tarot-centric but only as a jump-off in terms of symbology and its placement throughout the deck . 5 x 5 recycled cookie packaging substrate.  circa 1999.

 One of my long-term ultra slow creative endeavors involves collaging a full deck of tarot card prototypes with quilter's cotton prints.  If I can get that managed I've envisioned painting myself a one of a kind deck - thinking I'd use the prototypes as reference for creating and completing the deck.  I mentally committed to this in the late 90's a/k/a a time when today's calender numbers felt waaaaay in the future.  All the same I've always kept the cards readily to hand as if I might re-commence engaging with the process at any moment. 

About five years ago I unearthed an unrecognized and uncharacteristically small notebook in which I'd written (undated) about the specific types of wisdom I'd gotten old enough to appreciate as a matter of ongoing progress and process -- the tricky business of having more confidence expressing myself in relationship to both painting and successfully creating a viable tarot deck to use for my own readings.  Am now planning to start working-out the concepts as rough graphic mock-ups in my current favorite sketchbook.  Maybe collect and collage a few relevant color stories and also a small glossary of relevant glyphs and similar stripped-down symbols to fit the themes of the cards.

turn something chronically loose and fancy free into something actively structured and officially recognized as a Thing I'm doing with intention to complete it in whatever way providence wills.

Kingofearth Earth Alpha (king)

For the earth cards I'll be embedding the original five pointed star from the traditional assignation of pentacles.

***

In recent times I've been spending 3-5 hours most work week days in fictionland.   Really like what's happening with both the novel's particular story arc and also the way it's had such a positive settling and grounding impact on my daily ebb and flow. 

When I'm out in the garden I tend to think more about non-fiction writing endeavors and goals.  More specifically I think about my planned organization (and far more to the point - congruent elucidation) of subjects related to areas of long term interest.  It's frustrating me how long it's taking that seed of intention to germinate effectively.  Feel like I need to give this level of planning enough form so I understand why I'm drawn to continuing. 

~*~grace's influence.  know why before proceeding. it might change what you bring along with you and also what you choose to leave behind.~*~

Over the past five evenings I've spent something like 1.5-2 hours a night reviewing individual segments of accumulated daily writing sessions.  Bringing both the text and its story-serving context to a stronger voice so as to get this draft beyond the skeletal stage one paragraph at a time.  It is as tedious as it is engaging.   It's also somewhat unnatural or at least well past contrarian (whenever I'm not actively engrossed in writing or thinking about writing, anyway ...) to prize and consistently foster an ability to disconnect from reality simply so one might develop A Story and then persuade others to engross themselves in something that doesn't exist right along with you.  Avoiding distraction - especially those caused by some place/somebody/something real - so that I can commune instead with one or more imaginary people during any given block in time.  I like to keep in mind that's what I'm doing in the final pragmatic analysis.  It keeps me real and consistently demystifies the process as well.

In any event all the imaginary people live in real places so I suppose there's that tenuous connection between hemispheres of cognition.

Bigmedenchantthe deck's first of two sacred pairings bond male and female energies traditionally called the Magician and the High Priestess.  I re-named those archetypes Big Medicine and Enchantment respectively.

Bigmedicine I began making these cards after much encouragement from some UK friends who felt I had the chops to do it even though I did not.  Chose at once to work with a square because I very much liked the idea of geometric grounding/containing the experience of creating and reading these cards.  It also gives my reading interpretation a little more room to grow on both its vertical and horizontal axes.

EnchantmentI've not designed a lot of cards or otherwise come close to justifying how long it's taking me to get immersion-level engaged.  But I do have an excellent reason.  At a certain point I grasped I'd have to start learning to paint one slow step at a time or I'd have no idea how to succeed once I was ready to paint these cards and then tried to learn how.  Learning  to simply handle paint of various kinds is proving to be far more compelling than creating cards to match the vibe and feel of what I started so long ago.  Especially since I set them aside, as one would, after the ongoing burning passion phase of tarot involvement seemed to have left the building.  Until it came back rather suddenly and without preamble.  That occurred maybe 3 months before the collage challenge and Liz sharing ongoing additions to her splendid Texas Tarot project.

It interests me - how things once central to our sense of creative engagement can recede and yet rather than compartmentalizing it off to the side a person could let that medium and methodology stay relevant enough in their ongoing life to return to slow moving projects at other points in time.  Creatively this often brings a level of subliminal cohesion and mapping ability into play at the design level even/especially when an idea is very fresh.  

FertilityAs for the other sacred archetypal pairing within the Major Arcana  - The Empress could only be distilled as Fertility.

VolitionAnd the Emperor as Volition. 

Most of the prototypes I've created are major arcana.  I also created all the aces, an alpha/king and the minor card that dismayed me the most at that point in my life.  At the time the 9 of swords (arrowheads in this deck) showed up so much that I stopped reading for myself and spent that same amount of time and level of effort in routing-out my seemingly endless inner cascades of fear & anxiety.  One thing that helped a lot was articulating how the card felt to me any time I saw it there on the reading cloth.  And then translating that to a prototype:

Acoyotes9ofarrowheadsIn recent times I've been re-considering these cards and the others I created so long ago.  Never actually put them away or otherwise 'cancelled' them.  They've always sat on the long artist's altar in the studio.  One day when I was walking past them I glanced in their direction and asked myself a question:

what if tarot cards are like flower essences in that those that interest you the most - the essences you feel you really need - are those you need to learn from in order to express slow but clear understanding that what you feel beyond words also has the capacity to express itself in spoken and written language? 

It would seem that, for me, "needing to learn from the most" relates quite tangibly to my ongoing creative lessons that all seem to boil down to learning how to complete things to my own satisfaction level.  In the past I've always believed if I put something aside I would pick it up again when I had the chops to complete my original idea in some form.  In this case I don't need to successfully paint a deck of cards that I actually use or share with others.  But I do think I owe it to myself to finish collaging the proto-deck and sketch-level paintings.

Have also been journaling of late about my seeming disconnect to collage more generally.  This led to an awareness that this unwelcome development first bloomed right around the time my style and construction objectives became some other previously unknown thing the more my rational mind imploded many times a day.  For all the same reasons so many other peoples' minds have been similarly imploding plus my kid being so ill.  The point is that the shifts in style are actually perfect for digging into the nuts and bolts of creating more collaged tarot card mock-ups.  Not to mention getting my desk set up for more  sketch and paint exploration. 

I seem to be coming back around to where I'd originally hoped to be by the end of February in terms of how I'm using studio space as well as my time within it.   Maximizing my creative output is the most reliable way I know to keep an effective counter-balance to the mayhem and escalating sense that all of life is becoming one harsh dividing line after the next. 

JusticeJustice


balancing. sorta.

Mama030720

A lot of my studio time during the second half of this week felt like one long practical application of all the times I've stayed awake far too long running through various mental lists and scenarios related to emergency/disaster preparedness.   A lot of people I know in the walking around world started doing this as a feature rather than a bug after 9-11 or Katrina.  I've been doing it - with long offs and then painfully intense on cycles that feel like they'll never end - since an exceedingly boisterous fireman came to my 3rd grade class.  Grinning as wide as Dick Van Dyke he enthusiastically described all the things we must do to keep ourselves and our families safe in the event of a fire.

Fast forward to the now in which J. and I reflected on our past while taking a break from inventorying and collating/date-coding our amassed non-perishables.  I reminded him of whatever hurricane it was that roared all the way up the east coast when T. was quite young back in Boston.  We'd barely had enough extra money to get the duct tape we needed to put on our windows as per neighborhood watch request - plus extra ice for our battered cooler and a gallon of water each for the three of us.

We spoke of how many hundreds of millions of people are in that place now.  

************

As far as leading with a kitty pic on Caturday - Mama detests the survival assemblage making havoc of the usual mudroom arrangement and she also had a little hissy fit knocking things over upon discovering there was also a lot of other stuff scattered  throughout the kitchen and hallway floors.  Obviously most or all of these full throttle irregular activities are by default a feline ordeal.  While I was taking her picture above I told her the story of everything we'd gathered especially for her.   To me her expressive gaze says: I don't care why or how I just want it to stop.

Todaysfodderadds

After partially digesting this morning's news cycle I felt a renewed need to rip apart and consolidate a few more text blocks and part of an old calendar.   

Stashbaggie

Tomorrow I'll start a new daily collage week with a greatly amplified stash baggie.   It will be a great thing to have all ripe and ready to go because if life keeps throwing us enormous things to be processed ASAP we'll all need to maintain a super reliable brainwave fulcrum.  Stitching and gluing pieces of paper to each other - plus hopefully maintaining my morning reading routine and yoga practice - may have to be suffice in scattered pieces throughout the day.  "morning" pages in my writing journal may need to take a less expansive form depending on what any given morning brings.  In earlier portions of my life that were largely structured around the overlapping structures of my husband and son I embraced evening pages.  In the most maxed-out stretched thin portions of the past I've kept lists of Five Beautiful Things at the end of every week.   This eventually funneled into keeping an ongoing gratitude journal with morning and evening entries in the brief but hugely rewarding and clarifying method described by Angeles Arrien - more than likely within her book Living in Gratitude.

Woolnfelt

Also accomplished this morning:  folding up my strewn wool and wool felt collection and putting it away.  Before we got our catastrophe game plan mapped out and task lists divvied-up I was cleaning out a cloth-based storage drawer.  Whittling down and streamlining.  As I was examining the wool I understood I should make sure to savor the afternoon's slow and unpressurized pace.  Knew once J. got home from work our regularly scheduled Friday evening programming would be overwritten.  All the energy we didn't need to expend since we haven't been dealing with extreme winter weather or its aftermath (or J.'s mother having an anticipated but so far not-yet health crisis) kind of exploded out of both of us all at once just as I thought it would.  Have consciously chosen to live with the strewn pile as a sanity beacon/nurturing promise to myself: when everything has been as solidified as it can get for now I'll come back to this and relish the experience of colors and texture

which I did.

Flamingheart

Within my storage drawer excavation I came across a stack of WISPs I'd thought were in a completely different place.  Am now hoping my indigo stash I was sure was in the drawer is actually located where I thought I'd stored the WISP's.  Remembered the above without recalling I'd layered raw-appliqued scraps of silk velvet to the base heart in order to give it some depth and texture.  Oftentimes when I re-connect with something still undone that I haven't seen in awhile I'm pleasantly surprised at how much farther along I am than I'd estimated from memory.  In this case I was shocked at how little I'd accomplished.  I thought this was ready to bind but it's nowhere close. 

Flamingheartexpanded

Practically a blank slate.  Due to the frail antique kimono scrap and the looser weave of the silk taffeta behind the heart I elected not to baste or pin into shape.  Consequently I will need to quasi-block the piece as you would a sweater only I'll use in the ditch quilting to ease the piece back into shape.  Have done this many many times and am confident of pulling it off  but it requires mindfulness and care, same as blocking a sweater.  This project will be a good foil for whatever the next week (or hour) will reveal in terms of both world wide crisis and one of the species' biggest ignorant mendacious assholes ever born being 'in charge' of this particular country and the condition/scope of it readiness/response. 

Right now the big quilt feels too overwhelming as a stitching process.  Am quite near the end so it's not that.  It's a physical sense of being boxed-in right on the edge of claustrophobia by the size and physical weight of the quilt.  But it's comforting to have it one hand so for now I've spread it out on the couch for the classic hippie slipcover effect.  Only I did it specifically for the cat. The quilt is her comfort object and she is mine.   Just watching her blissful sleep posture warms my heart and evokes tenderness.

Botswanaagate

When not inventorying non-perishables, towels, sheets and first aid supplies - I've been inventorying my tarot card collection.  This process has led me to realize that I don't have many tarot decks (3) at all.  But I do have a number (11) of oracle decks.  Oracles of all kinds fascinate me.   While inventorying and whittling I found the above loitering with clear intent to be found just then. I love that the white "moon" has a slightly more opaque waxing crescent shape within the circle.

Firstbud

The first narcissus bud is fully emerged from the group's protective sheath.  So far there are ten emergent flower stalks.


need more of this

Bookcoverslices

Yesterday I called a wildcat strike due to week two of the flu being just as draining and unpleasant as the first and, also, people/politics/unsolicited personal opinions overload.  Wasn't up for much but definitely felt capable of dismantling a book or two and some magazines.

 I began with the cover of a book about wreath making.  Got it at the library book sale maybe six years ago because I liked the smallish square size and originally intended to alter the contents.  Now want the covers for a sketchbook filled with a backlog of paper cutoffs that's gotten out of hand.  Two birds/one book.

Morningcollagepile

Moved on to ransacking the removed textblock and also a brochure about Chinese dancers.   Went over to the house to rustle up a low key flu-lunch.  Let the cat in and out a number of times and then returned to my day all the way Off.

Tableoffodder

By mid afternoon I'd gone through a number of other magazines, catalogues and brochures.  Also started ripping up a brightly illustrated book about songbirds throughout the world. Tomorrow I'll have time to sort and begin gluing down items from the stack of cut-outs that seem just the thing for inclusion in a modest variety of art journal projects.  Will store the rest with the projects they evoke or my general fodder collection. 

Sewingoriginaspouch

Also stitched a tarot card pouch for a deck containing my favorite card image to date:

Originsmagician

plus found an attachment weaving sampler I made during Jude's second round of cloth-to-cloth.  Loved making this.  Attachment weaving has remained my favorite technique learned in that class.  Took the big light blue glass butterfly bead off and steam pressed.  Hanging it in place where I'll see it a lot and smile.

Attachmentweavingsampler


mercifully mellow

Robinfortressblg

Today has been warm enough to open windows on both sides of the studio.  The pleasure of naturally fresh air - and the fact that it's still possible to say we live with such a blessing - left me hungry for spring.   Am in the throes of pretty much going through everything I own here in the studio and elsewhere.  It's been an ongoing process for about a year now.  The more I lean into it the more it picks up speed and volume. 

Think it's my sane response to the increasingly insane world.  I want and need this space to have energetic flow and practical workability.  In addition to very lo-fi yet optimum storage reconfiguration it's become really important to me that all dust and bits of debris be corralled and removed.  (note as is obvious in above image I do not consider flaking bark fragments to be "debris")

There is much going on in my family - thankfully nearly all of it of a purposeful and positive nature - that's pulled my energy back to the basics of the Householder path.  Last night I had a chance to sit quietly with the new moon in pisces vibration.  That's when the phrase mercifully mellow popped into my head.

Bulbsplantedonsolstic22420

Here in the studio we have two very unglamorous pots of bulbs I planted on the winter solstice.  Sunny yellow and orange sweet scented daffodilly energy is on the rise!  It's a ritual I've enjoyed since a friend and I declared ourselves the Inventresses of the practice roundabout '81.  Then we had an old fashion metal milk delivery cooler to store our pots and now I have a left-behind refrigerator that just sort of hulks at the edges of our garage.  For the two months of winter the bulbs give it purpose.  At this point (other slower to rise bulbs are still sequestered) the narcissus have been slowly acclimating to light for 5 days.  Tomorrow or the next day I'll put them in their permanent spot for budding-up.

Malachiterescue

Have also been breathing life in a long-neglected and pretty much ossified tube of discontinued (malachite) Daniel Smith watercolor from their primatek line.  The color doesn't handle reliably and it's streaky.  But the specific green itself is rather marvelous and I've been thinking of ways I could use the smaller chunks as mark making tools.

Herbacrafterspouch

Today I also sewed a silk-lined storage pouch for a tarot deck I acquired very late last year - The Herbcrafter's Tarot.  Although I'm quite aware dandelions aren't pink it's the scrap that kept calling to me.  I lined the quilter's cotton with a green dupioni silk that stops just short of chartreuse.

[note:  per a request I'll soon be posting about Herbcrafters in relation to the way I approach a new deck upon unboxing.  Will do that on my main blog as I know some who read there but not here will be interested and inspired by the card imagery.]

I just cut long rectangles of the outer fabric and silk, eyeballed to leave sufficient room for a front, back, and tuckable flap.

Pouch unsewn

The two fabric's raw edges are folded inward (sometime with unravelling silk involved it winds up being as much as a half an inch for the silk and then easing-along the cotton to keep the edges even.  Below you can see how the folded seams look when the finished rectangle is positioned in the proper place for its intended contents. 

  Pouchedgedges

You can also see how the two fabrics are folded inward to self-seam with a continuous well spaced running stitch and (sometimes gently botched) mitered corners. 

Today I had to work with set dimensions based on what I had of the dandelion print.  And within that constraint long experience has taught me that if I set further folding and sewing lines based on the booklet and cards placed horizontally as it is above...

Herbcrafters

When all is said and done the cards and accompanying booklet will be housed in verticially snug comfort with just enough space to slip in a polished stone or crystal if you do that sort of thing.  

Pro-Tip:  Join the finishing side seams of the pouch with a continuous backstitch. 

Begin at the BASE of the sides rather than the top. When you get to the top take one or two small but sturdy stitches that are perpendicular to the rest of the stitches.  The top edge of the pouch will receive the most stress and wear.  Mindful stitch planning significantly increases the timeline before you have to repair or outright re-stitch the joining seams.