The Ace of Cups is Done!

Last weekend was rather an indulgence, in which I was able to work on the Tarot of Bones pretty well uninterrupted. This week there have been more obligations and appointments, and so my time has been sporadic. But I managed to complete the fourth assemblage piece, the Ace of Cups.

I’ve been digging through my stash of art supplies for items to use as the backboard for these pieces. I have a pile of old cutting boards gleaned from the Goodwill outlets, and picked out the best ones for this project, even if not all of them are perfectly rectangular. The handle of the one for the Ace of Cups won’t be in the final photo used in the deck, but it does make hanging this piece easy! And I did end up opting to not use the wooden cutting board shaped like the silhouette of a pig, even as cute as it is.

Speaking of dimensions, you may have noticed by now that every one of the pieces I’ve made so far has been a different size. This may seem at odds with the concept of a tarot deck, in which all the cards are the same dimensions. Fear not–I have a plan! Every one of these pieces will be photographed on a backing, either leather or wood or some other complementary material. The photos will all be bigger than they need to be so that I can trim them down to the appropriate sizes for the cards. Pieces that are rectangular (like the Three of Cups) and therefore closer to the card dimensions won’t have much, if any, of this backing showing. Others that are more square (like Temperance) will have more of the backing showing at the bottom and the top, but the piece itself will remain the primary focus of the card.

Alright, I have a few more assemblage pieces coming together in my workspace; I should be able to unveil the next one sometime this weekend.

The First Assemblage Piece is Complete!

Whew! I seriously thought I wasn’t going to get any art done this week, and have to delay my work on this project yet again! Recovering from running Curious Gallery took me a bit longer than anticipated, and I’m preparing to vend at another event this weekend, so those bookends have been rather time-hungry. However, I have been promising and promising myself that I would start on the first assemblage piece this week, and so last night I finally cleared out some artwork time. I stayed up entirely too late and woke up entirely too early, but the first assemblage piece is done: the Three of Cups!

It’s a pretty simple and small piece; consider it my first cautious step onto the path that will lead to the final deck. In my last post I pondered which card I would start with; turns out the artist-brain won out, and my fascination with a trio of juvenile red fox rib bones became the late-night inspiration for the Three of Cups. (By the way, no, that is not the final photo that will be used for the deck.)

It’s not much of a departure from my current style; really, it could fit in with the rest of my assemblage pieces nicely. So I admit that I was staying somewhat within my comfort zone while I created it. But I did feel challenged to find ways to incorporate traditional tarot symbolism without the usual Rider-Waite-Smith emblem of three celebrating women (sometimes said to be the three Graces.) To represent harmony and cooperation, I nested the three rib bones within each other so that they mirrored each other’s curves while still displaying their own unique details. The good fortune of the Three of Cups is reflected in the fertility of pine cones and flowers. The sand dollar represents wholeness and support. Upright, this card can denote celebration, but within reasonable limits; the moss in which the various items are embedded is contained safely within a wooden box.

Each of the suits of the Minor Arcana will be represented by a different sort of bone. I chose ribs for Cups because they both protect and contain some of the most vital organs of the vertebrate body, most notably the heart. While I’m not sticking to traditional tarot meanings entirely, I am inspired by the emotional nature associated with this suit.

I’m also not drawing on the species-specific energy of the animals whose bones are used in the Minor Arcana cards as much as I am with the Major Arcana. The fact that these are red fox bones is more chance than anything; I chose them for their size, pleasing shape and readiness for incorporation into the piece. The Minor Arcana is primarily concerned with the function of the bones themselves, the cupping qualities of ribs in this case.

I’m not sure which card I’ll work with next. The Major Arcana are certainly appealing and full of rich symbolism both tarot and animal, but they’re also a bit intimidating as they’ll be more complicated pieces. I might just do a couple more Minor Arcana before moving on. Either way, I’m not likely to unveil another piece until next week; after this weekend I have a couple of weeks with no events scheduled, though I need to catch up on some custom orders and other projects with deadlines. Still, having made the first piece I feel more confident in my goal of having all 78 assemblages done by the end of 2015, and I’m sure I’ll be leveraging my down time between vending and workshop events quite a bit.

Also, I did post a work-in-progress (WIP) picture of this piece last night over on my Patreon account, along with a picture of a couple of skulls for the Major Arcana. Please consider being my Patron; for as little as $1 a month you can have access to exclusive WIP pictures and more!