Journey through the Creation of a Tarot Deck – Part III, The Work Starts for Real


Journey through the Creation of a Tarot Deck – Part III, The Work Starts for Real

continued from Part II here

Now I was hooked, for sure…it was on to The Lovers, on regular art paper onto which I drew a rectangle to contain the art. Instead of tracing the size of the card, and figuring out how much was for the border, I could just draw the size of the space where art would go. For the Lovers, I branched out a bit from traditional symbolism. While the card has nude figures as in RWS, and the alchemical beasts of the Thoth card, things started to get different. I was thinking of the concept of anima and animus, and how while under the spell of love, there is often an awful lot of projection going on. I was thinking of dual mirrors, reflecting into each other. And somehow, these mirrors side by side looked exactly like the glyph of Gemini, the sign the card rules. I painted it in the traditional colors as per the color scales of the Golden Dawn, as I am doing with all the cards. At first, I was not happy with it. I wondered if it was too different, if the color scheme was too reminiscent of Dunkin Donuts, if the animals looked right, if the reflections in the mirrors were distinct enough…But everyone I showed the card to loved it, and after a bit it grew on me, too.


It was at this point in time that I was scheduled to take an art class with a friend. It was a class that explored various types of print making. I was looking forward to doing the class, but also had some reservations about the time it was going to take, which would take me away from working on the deck artwork. I was truly obsessed with spending all of my free time on the deck, and wondering if it was a mistake to sign up for the class. But after the first class, it came to me why I was there. One of the things I tried working on at the end of the first class was a technique called dry point etching, where one takes a metal stylus and scratches the art into a metal or plexiglass plate, then rubs ink into the scratches and runs the plate through a printing press. That is when it hit me. The metal stylus was a Sword, and it was time to make the Swords suit, using this technique. The only problem was, it was a four week class, this was class one, and there were only three classes left. It wasn’t something I could do at home, lacking the huge expensive printing presses. And it was a large class, with only two presses we all had to share. One got very little actual time with it. Could I do it? Was it possible to design, draw, make and carve the plates, and get good prints for the entire suit of fourteen cards with only three two-hour classes left, and no chance of getting near a press again?


next up: Journey through the Creation of a Tarot Deck – Part IV – The Swords Suit IS Mental, Manic and Stressful

Read part IV here

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