Handmade DIY Tarot Cards (Or Not)

If you had told me 20 years ago that I’d spend a weekend trying to fashion a DIY tarot cards in my living room, I’d probably have said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” Tarot as a means of divination is not something I’ve ever really considered and any knowledge I had of it has been peripheral until a month ago. In much of Europe they are simply used to play games, but instead of the 52-card playing cards familiar in the US, there are 78 total. Both decks have shared origins. Looking at the various styles over the centuries sent me down a rabbit hole of research. It reminded me of the nights I spent in the family library reading about Egyptian mythology in the World Book Encyclopedia.

The Rider-Waite deck, featuring the artwork of Pamela Colman Smith, is one of the most common decks out there. One thing I didn’t care for were the color schemes. One weekend I started playing with watercolors and making my own colors.

Various watercolors on my art table.
Various watercolors on my art table.

My preference was for an ethnically neutral version, so all the figures have blue and green skin.

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Bedroom Sessions

Bedroom Sessions is a collection of songs recorded (strangely enough) from my bedroom. It has these great plaster walls the lend to some natural echo and the lighting just looks kind of cool. I’ve enjoyed the progress from the first video and will continue to add new episodes here as I record them. You can also go straight to my YouTube channel for the complete playlist.

BS009: “Needing/Getting” and “Want And Able” OKGo and Jack White Covers

I’ve had the idea to play these two songs back to back for a while, but I’m just now getting around to it. If “Needing/Getting” isn’t the flip side of “Want and Able” then they are at least facets on the same gömböc.

I’d like to be more zen and want fewer things. By and large, I don’t feel like I want as much in terms of material possessions. I want more time away from work and the means to do more things creatively. I had originally hoped to get around to recording these songs prior to the New Year, but being busy at work has made less time for me to do the things I want at home.

For some reason I feel like I should be getting all philosophical here, but I’ll let the performance speak for itself. True to the rest of the Bedroom Sessions videos, this hasn’t been super rehearsed and I’ve made a few edits to polish up the performance.

Is this the last of the Bedroom Sessions? I’m not sure. It feels like a natural end, but given that I’m naming this Episode 9, maybe I’ll come up with a tenth one to round out the series.

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Zenith Camera Silkscreen Print

In April 2016 I produced this 2-color print of a Zenith 3M Russian 35mm camera. I bought the camera from a store in Ukraine because I thought it looked interesting and I might end up getting into some old school analog photography. As if I had time for another creative pursuit.

The finished print before signing and numbering.

The Zenith Camera print is one of few prints I have done using a photograph as the basis for the print. The Silo also used a photographic reference for making the films, but the films were all hand inked. The films for the Zenith Camera were modified digitally in the computer and printed. But just as much work went into staging the photograph.

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Printable Notebook Rulings

While Vari-Dot is the only truly original notebook ruling that I have developed to date, I have put together some other rulings available for download and personal use.

Here they are:

Why Download Notebook Rulings?

Basic lined paper doesn’t cost so much, but if you’ve ever had to shop for graph paper or other specialty paper, you know it can get expensive quickly. These PDFs allow you to try a new ruling by printing just a few sheets at home. If you use a economical inkjet printer, you may well be able to print these notebook rulings more affordably than you can buy them. I accomplish this by using refillable ink cartridges.

The Guitar Chord/Tab ruling at work for a song that I am learning to play
The Guitar Chord/Tab ruling at work for a song that I am learning to play

Extra Special Notebook Rulings

  • Vari-Dot: The only ruling of my own design, I’ve already written about it at some length here. The original goal was for design work, but it can be used for regular old writing and for anything for which regular grid paper can be used.
  • Guitar Tab/Chord: For guitar players trying to write or learn a song. Version 1 has space for a line a lyrics under the guitar tab. Version 2 has space for two lines of lyrics under each set of guitar tab. Both have empty chord diagrams up at the top and a line for the song name. The Guitar Tab without chords has a dashed line between the guitar tab sections also for lyrics. All versions are (hopefully) in a gray dark enough to see, but light enough that pencil on top of it shows clearly.
  • Seyès: The notebook ruling unique to France, named for the Parisian librarian who invented it. I prefer the Extra Light version. Both feature a red margin for good measure.

What’s Next?

As time permits some rulings may become available in larger or different sizes. I’ve already considered notebook rulings for practicing kanji and Russian cursive. Currently all the rulings have the Neat & Keen logo and website address in small print on the bottom of the page. In the future I may have premium “unbranded” versions available for a small fee. I’ve also flirted with the idea of customized stationery and letterhead in both a digital and physical format.

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