When I decided on which card I wanted to discuss this week it was while I was on a train, peacefully staring out the window at old barns, billowing smokestacks And empty oil drums. I was thinking about how much I love train travel and what it symbolizes to me as well as in history. So many amazing possible topics. The push west, ghost trains, train robberies, beautiful women waving little white hankies with a tear or two! And so on! Such fun ;) I even have more than one card inspired by the railway but since I've decided to talk about just one at a time, let's talk about this one
Knight of Swords
Artwork and History
The Prominent Vanderbilt family is considered American royalty, by birth and accomplishment. William K Vanderbilt, born to a life of luxury, thanks to his father's achievements, continued the family business, becoming the president of the New York Central Railroad in the early 1900's. When not at work in New York, he spent his timing yachting, racing cars and relaxing at his mansion in Long Island as well as on his island in Florida. Before the income tax was law in this country, the wealthy could afford incredible extravagance and made superior social standing their goal. Many fortunes in this country were made from achievements in business and industry.
Although it might not look like it immediately in this card it deals with a big part of the finances of the railway. I was interested in making the knight of swords when I was visiting Newport, R.I. with my mother and touring the "gilded age" mansions, a term Mark Twain gave to the privileged tycoon families that they adopted and embraced.
One of the things that really caught my eye in the Breakers, the summer mansion of the Vanderbilt family, was a french inspired Louis XVI style sculpture above a doorway that at first looked like it came straight out of Versailles. It depicted 2 angels flying over the entrance, one had a hammer and the other had a railroad spike with a train charging towards the foreground carved out of stone. It seemed inappropriate but also refreshing and fascinating. It seemed to say "if it wasn't for industry, we wouldn't be here pretending to be royalty in a country that isn't supposed to have royalty" What a big hand full of irony there!
For the artwork I combined the look of gold and glitter and royalty with an industrial image. In the background you'll see a train charging in the scene and his face is layered with textures of old train wheels and rusted metal as well as weathered sculptures for the Vanderbilt property, to help symbolize another aspect I wanted to address, no one stays on top forever.
The Knight of Swords is a cunning, courageous and athletic person that comes and goes whenever they please. If you draw this card in a reading your behaving bravely but foolishly. Rushing into all situations can be a sign of sure confidence, but think before you leap whenever possible. This card reversed urges you strongly to reconsider your next move and plan a little more strategically.
Happy Tax return time everyone! Might be time to gift yourself with a deck ;) and btw that whole thing about not buying your own deck is a TOTAL wives tale. It's okay to be good to yourself once in a while ;) especially since you know what kind of deck you want better than anyone.
As promised, here is my Monday blog for those that want to learn more about my artwork and my tarot deck. Today I'll be discussing a piece I really enjoyed creating. One of my only characters that is an American Icon in my eyes, today! Not in the 30's or 40's but a living person that I do not know personally but felt from how little I know about his story, represented a state of mind I wanted to embrace at the time I made it. About a year ago, my boyfriend Joel and I went to NYC for a vacation and to do a one night art show at Niagara.
We were wondering around with our friend from Seattle, Colby, getting coffee and chatting. When we finally had to part ways she gave us some directions to a place she said I would especially love. Well who am I to argue with someone who's known me for 12 years or so and being a tourist and all, we headed that way.
Wedged right in between a bunch of buildings was this blue tent, with vintage furniture and so on scattered all on the sidewalk. At the entrance to the tent there was an extremely tall man dressed straight out of the old west sanding a bench with a cigarette crunched in between his teeth. Well instantly Joel and I both thought he would be a great subject for a new piece.
I was a little nervous since a large majority of my subject matter has been gone for many years but thankfully, he gave it his blessing with a few words in an email. After I read more about him I felt even more compelled to complete this piece and the nerves subsided.
King of Coins
Inspiration behind the piece
In Manhattan NY, you will find a tent currently fighting city authorities for a space it has occupied for a long time. Billy Leroy, owner of Billy's Antiques & Props continues to provide his wares despite an ongoing bureaucratic assault to push him off the land and make room for developments such as corporate retail locations.
In the photo above he receives his property back, after a fight with the city, claiming the property was stolen. With the help of a good lawyer he was able to prove that not to be the case. I appreciate that he doesn't seem to succumb to pressure. I think he's a real statement about what is happening to business owners in this country. Just moments before I arrived at his tent, down the street was a corporate retail store with a line of boring looking teenagers wrapped around the building waiting to meet Kim Kardashian, who was apparently there to sign autographs and sell something she had nothing to do with making I'm sure.
But he seems to persevere incredibly well and continue to do things his way, including only excepting Euros when the economy crashed a few years back! Regardless of what new things might sprout up around him and I have a lot of respect for that.
Here is a trailer for a movie he did fairly recently.
The King of Coins is a reliable man, practical, intelligent, and successful in business. He is someone you can rely on. When you draw this card in a reading, you have practical wisdom and are capable of great success in matters of business. If the card is reversed, take care that you do not become too greedy or materialistic.
I almost always consider it a very good omen when I get this card. It means your making smart, practical and strategic decisions in matters of business right now and who doesn't like to be told that? :)
If you would like to see this piece in person and live in the Seattle area, it continues to hang at The Highline on Capitol Hill. It is mounted in a large 1920's window and is decorated with old bottles and bones.
Hi Everyone! Welcome to another week! News with me is I'm working on a custom Coney Island piece for someone, which is a lot of fun and plotting an escape from Seattle for a week or so, hoping to find some inspiration and recharge! Also working on trying to make more and more people in the world aware of my tarot deck. Anyone that wants to share my etsy shop with friends and family that you think would be interested, here's the link-
The Hobo clown
The hobo clown was a character created largely by famous circus clown, Emmett Kelly, intended to represent the sadness and hilarity of boozing train hoppers of the depression era. The large red nose and 5 o clock shadow makeup became what we know as the hobo clown. The idea to portray the fool as a hobo clown was my friend and model for this card, Alex. I thought it was a great idea being as a hobo, a clown and a wanderer all embody what I consider to be "The Fool" card. He represents someone out in the world looking for something new through unconventional means. Viewed by some as an ignorant and lazy person, the fool is often times just at the beginning of a new adventure and is willing to take risks others are not.
Once I had decided to take Alex's suggestion for the theme of my Fool card I learned a lot more about clowns and circus's than I had known befMy ore. A tragic and fascinating story I found while doing research on Emmett Kelly, was the 1944 Hartford Circus fire, of which he was a witness to. My mother lives in Hartford and apparently it continues to be an open wound in the city to this day. Circus is no longer banned there but it was in the state of Connecticut for a long time after.
Because of a shortage of well.....everything by 1944 in America, due to war times, the tent was not water proofed. To save money, the Ringling Brothers doused the tent in Kerosene to water proof it. You can imagine, that didn't end well. The entire tent burned up in a matter of 7 minutes or less, wild cat cages blocked the exits and desperate panic rang through the canvas. Few were lucky to have survived. Here is a photo of Emmett Kelly trying to assist with putting out the fire
Artistic process......the video
It just so happens that I have a video that Mike Folden made, explaining the process of making this very card's artwork.....and if you don't know me, yes I really am that goofy...
The Fool is willing to take the risk, to venture out and see what happens. It's easy to be skeptical of others when you refuse to try anything without know the end result. But be careful, the reversed meaning of this card is that you are acting with no regard for the consequences of your actions. Your attempt to live in the moment may be rash and without an end goal in sight. So how do you know when you're embarking on a journey that's probably going to end well or when your actions are foolish? You don't. Taking risks, by nature of the word, is risky. No one can say what will happen if you go left or right at the fork. What is foolish about this life journey is learning nothing from it and/or having no definite target in mind. When you get this card, upright or reversed, now is the time to take risks for the people and things you live and make progress towards your dreams. Don't act idiotically in the name of nothing particularly important because it can be counterproductive and seriously detrimental to your health and well being.
Before I begin discussing this card, I would like to mention a positive thing that happened since last week. There have been some wonderful reviews this last week from very educated opinions that seem to being taking from it, exactly what I was trying to communicate. (To an artist, such as myself, that is a tremendous accomplishment) Such as this review from a customer- " I typically don't collect so-called "dark decks," but I wanted this one because I tend to like garish decks and the AOT seemed to gesture in that direction. I wouldn't call the art garish or even necessarily dark-it's just strange. Wonderfully strange "
My Aunt, a well respected tarot reader and astrologer in Eugene, Or. also seemed to feel it was a theme and style she appreciated, that also pleases me a lot :) because we do have VERY different ways of approaching things and that she understands my message is quite an accomplishment. She did however, wish for me to add to the introduction of the book where we discuss our families origins in tarot with her and my mother in the 1970's, that we actually have a long history of spiritualists in our family, most noteworthy, my great grandmother, Ida Goodrich. Ida was the minister of a spiritualist church in Los Angeles and an automatic writer. Alright! With that said, onto the card of the week!
WARNING!!!! This is a very dark theme!! It is after all, The Devil card.
Ohhh the Devil card.....I used to get this one a lot when I was a teenager. Just like the death card, it can be misinterpreted, especially for entertainment purposes. It is not a card that is classically "evil" as much as it's a card about fear, restraint and oppression. When I was considering what I wanted my Devil card to be, it was a little personal. Since this card is about oppression and my idea of oppression is a ho hum, non creative job, where you lose your will to enjoy life but they offer you just enough security to keep you there out of fear for years. Since I have stepped off that path quite a few times in my life, most recently this year, to finish this tarot deck, that is my personal evil. I am happy to report that I never draw this card anymore though!
I do understand that things now are not as bad as they have been, especially the more I learned about the theme I chose for this card, but I do feel like there is a definite lack of loyalty or security in taking these paths for my generation. Instead of my parents generation where it seems more likely that if a man or woman wanted to support their family off of a factory job, they could keep that job for 30-40 years and have a mutual sense of loyalty between employee and employer. For example, office jobs are given in contracts a lot more these days by big companies to save a little money on health insurance and salary pay and keep employees feeling this constant anxiety that they could be disposed of at any second.
On the flip side, the theme of this tarot card in the American Workforce does help you to understand how things have improved in the last 100 years.
In 1911, the triangle shirtwaist factory fire in New York destroyed the lives of 146 female factory workers. Largely Immigrants, some even as young as 14. The post industrial revolution sweatshop produced shirts by seamstresses working long and hard hours. Scraps of fabric flung every which way in the jam packed rooms are suggested to be the cause of the fire. Because of precautions put in place by management to limit fabric stealing, the women were trapped inside the factory, unable to get down the locked stairwells. Many perished in the fire, others leapt to their death out the windows bellow. Or as one reporter described it, he believed they were flinging bundles of clothes out of the windows from above, every few moments until he relized those bundles were people.
If one good thing came from this horrific event it was that it set the wheels in motion for our first ever government mandated fire exits and workers rights.
The Devil symbolizes oppression, and that is anything keeping you in a situation unfavorable to you by overt control and fear tactics. This card reversed or upright could mean your feeling paralyzed by fear of oppression or that you are the oppressor in this situation. Either way it is not a good place to be. Evaluate what you want in life and what keeps you from getting it. Pursue it without dominating others or allowing yourself to feel dominated by others.
When you think of the classic devil figure what do you think his main control over you would be? I would say it's fear. So if your getting this card at all or a lot think about what scares you and why. Does it have any place in your life? Learning more about your fears can be very insightful and important to your development as a person. Fears that go un-confronted sneak into your life and irrational decision making from all angles.
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