Crafting My Own Tarot

I took a fantastic art class last weekend.  A few months ago, I was browsing through the summer catalog for the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.  The range of classes offered was pretty amazing, from working with clay, weaving, digital design & photography &, interestingly, writing.  But the class that stood out to me the most was a printmaking class on making personalized tarot cards.  Instant excitement!

I’ve casually studied tarot off & on for 12 years.  Right now, I’m going back through the deck a card at a time & journaling on each as a way to meditate and focus my creativity.  Creating my own deck is something I’ve toyed with as a mental exercise to see if I’ve retained my study.  I could do one based on literature, I thought, Or a Major Arcana that replicates an artist’s style, like the Art Nouveau & Mucha.  Or even one based on found objects!  Still all fun & interesting ideas.  But with only a two-day window for the class, I would have to refine my focus.

The instructor, Aijung Kim, not only sent us an email ahead of time to spark our thinking, she also had plenty of exercises to help us get thinking about personal images, memories, & associations.  She had us reflect on recurring dreams, vivid memories & colors or people associated with them.  She also talked about her process making her own deck, the Golden Moth Illumination Deck, which was more an oracle deck (meaning it did not have the same structure as Tarot.).

After a general lecture on tarot, design and the practical application of both on our work, we were ready to get started.  Since I have little ability with drawing & no experience with paints, I decided to create my images out of collage.  I enjoy working this way mainly because I have a magpie nature–I’m frequently drawn to make collections & order out of objects around me.  I brought my Oracle of the Goddess deck with me, which features collage elements & a handmade look I wanted to strive for.  While I had also plenty of esoteric material to refer to, I ended up focusing on the collage elements I had on hand & figuring out how I could best bring them together to express something.

What do you see?
What do you see?

By the end of class I had five cards mostly done & a sixth prepped for the next idea.  I had mostly decided to go with oracle cards mainly because I wanted to stop thinking & start doing.  I knew I would focus too much on whether a element I had picked would fit a specific tarot meaning.  I had been debating for days previously on who would be the Fool in my lit-themed deck.  (Ike Snopes?  Tender Branson?  Jesse from Suicide Blonde?  Prince Myshkin was a little on the nose but there was a touch of the Hanged Man about him too. . . Gah, decisions!)  Instead, I produced what you see in the picture above: the Nurturer, the Troubadour, the Apprentice, Meditation & Intoxication.  They aren’t finished; they still need to be cut down a little–hence the white space–but I want to come up with a design for the back before I do.  However, I loved the class; it was a fantastic creative workshop that got me to find a balance between thinking & producing.  I’m going to try to finish the rest (we planned out a total of ten) & hopefully keep that elusive intuitive spark going!