Sunday, January 22, 2012

Revisiting Tarot

{ My Devil tarot card collage}

Last night I mentioned in a convo with Ms Fanciful Devices I made a couple sets of Tarot cards about 11-12 years ago. We were talking about the rubber stamping/scrapbooking phenomenon. Perhaps everyone with a window into crafting and art realizes this, but scrapbooking and rubber stamping are literally considered lifestyles among their hardcore adherents. It's quite the cabal.

I lived in Salt Lake City, the birthplace of scrapbooking and its Shadow Self, rubber stamping, when I got back into artistic endeavors in the early 2000s. You could literally throw a dime standing on any street corner and it would land on a rubber stamp.

It wasn't what I was doing, but I did purchase several stamps I'd find at the thriftstore or on sale at Michael's. I was making lots of decoupage, some jewelry, lots of collage type stuff. This was right around the time of the Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh cards heyday, and my son was in his first few years in school, so little cards were everywhere.

Pokemon is endlessly fascinating to me. The creatures and accompanying labrythine, endlessly evolving mythologies and created archetypes trigger something in my deep unconscious. Then there's the whole notion of 'cards', which also has a very powerful established dynamic of insight, wisdom, guidance, and influence with Tarot. It's no wonder pokemon and yugioh were so appealing on a mass scale during such a crazy, paradigm-shifting time of transition nearing 2001.

Anyway, I had the idea to create decks of cards from scratch. I started with some hand lettered alphabet cards for friends of children, then made some regular playing cards, then went on to tarot. I used a couple of the rubber stamps I had, but felt they we
re too pre-fab looking, so I decided to make my own. I used a Speedball lino cutter and rubber erasers from the Dollar Store.

It sounds more elaborate than it was--I really just used simple figural cuts for the major arcana and then little cups and whatnot for the minor arcana, like playing cards. Not whole major picture scenes as in a standard tarot deck. After making several decks, I started getting the idea to make a deck of major arcana cards in collage. It was quite the project. I also created a rune set with the eraser stamps and used polymer clay to make the faux stones. I even did a little article/tutorial on it that turned out to be quite popular:

I'm scared to go back and read it because I've worked with polymer so much since then I'm scared I gave bad advice.

I got most of the tarot trump collages completed, perhaps all of them. I'd basically forgotten the details--I do have one of the collages pinned up on my fridge, so that's been a little reminder of the whole project, but until I went through the scanned images, I'd forgotten how much time I put into it back then.

Looking at the images now, I see how my aims have changed aesthetically. There's a general look to it that I now find pretty trite and doesn't appeal to me at all. It's a look that's really easy to get; that standard collage look is very simple to create in photoshop and it's pretty ubiquitous. Even though my tarot collages are physical pieces made with wax & paint, vintage papers, pencils, pens, glitter, etc., the scanned images look very digitally created.

Perhaps that's the case with anything that's scanned. I had to remind myself that they're 'better' in their original 3d state as created. Then I had to remind myself that I created them as such only because I didn't know how to create them in photoshop at the time, and the whole project was based in the idea that they were intended to be digitized and printed onto paper eventually for the cards. It was somewhat paradoxical.
{One of the collages placed into a tarot template. I liked it then--now it seems...too common.}

Whatever the case, in some ways the whole thing seems a bust because the lot of them will likely remain packed in an accordian folder in my attic indefinitely, but the act of revisiting the images after having the convo with Marina has me considering the
original appeal of using tarot within art and I definitely want to incorporate the idea into some jewelry pieces.

I did some digging and came up with only a few of the stamps I used for the handmade cards, but I think I know where the rest are. I unearthed a stamp pad and made a sheet with them to kind of survey.

I can't recall which is what--these portarits look like court cards; there's a page, a queen, a king. Some runes here and there, some florals, a set of chakra symbols, a 'specimen-pinchers' tool thing that looks like it's holding a ring or something--(perhaps I could use as a logo stamp for my shop? I've been thinking about making one but I like this. Maybe incorporating and "S" and "D" into it...) and then some reverse stamps to use on the clay. They look better with clay. There's one at the top I totally forgot about--the one with the "T" that I made for my son, that's a little carved portrait of him. It's reversed, so I bet I meant to stamp a piece of clay with it.

I can't believe I made all this stuff and that I completely forgot about so much of it.

I've got a ton of beads to make with these rediscovered stamps!


  1. this is so elaborate it boggles the mind. but i love that you have this kind of insane creative anergy.

  2. I think it just seems more elaborate than it is. I guess I don't have a perspective on it. Anergy, eh? Feels like that sometimes, like now.

  3. I don't know about that but you got the 'pit' part right, for sure! Thanks!