27 May 2019

Five of Water


Fives bring challenges, and the challenges of the Five of Water are feelings of sadness, disappointment, or grief. When this card appears in a reading it doesn’t represent loss per se, but the feelings that accompany loss, whether those feelings are fresh or are relics from old wounds. This card invites deep emotional processing, as grief must be experienced before it can be released. If not processed, grief can grow into feelings of victimhood or self-pity.

Below is the one-block woodblock print of the pot that I created for this card, based on a pot I found on the internet that purports to be a Portuguese pot for roasting chestnuts.


23 May 2019

Four of Water


With the Four of Water, feelings solidify and come into stasis. For a time this may be appropriate—your cup may be full and you may need some time to reevaluate or re-establish a connection to your own emotional truth. But feelings are meant to flow, and shutting down emotionally for too long can lead to isolation, detachment, apathy and stagnation. The Four tells us yes, by all means take some emotional time out, but don’t get stuck there.

Below is the woodblock print that I made for this card. It was created using a single block, with reduction cutting for the cork and multiple applications of color on the body of the jar. I really love printing this way. I made three of these prints, although the red color looks very different on each one. This was my favorite of the three.


17 May 2019

Three of Water


In the Three of Water, the energy continues to expand and community forms. A love relationship that began in the Two card is celebrated by a larger group; creative connections and collaborations begin; people offer support to one another; groups of individuals join together to move forward with feelings of love and trust. I chose an ancient African pot with three spouts to illustrate this movement into wider community.

Here's the woodblock print of the pot, which I scanned and collaged for the card.


I have "keywords" for each card and I've decided to add them. Some tarot readers don't like keywords, but since I'm spinning these cards a little differently than the traditional Rider deck I'm going to try using keywords and see if I like them. Feel free to let me know what you think.

13 May 2019

Two of Water


In the Two of Water, the new emotions or intuitions of the Ace are shared with another person. This is a card of of shared feelings, whether new romantic feelings, a budding friendship, or another kind of tentative collaboration. Feelings are honestly shared, there is affection, and kindred spirits find one another.

These two pitchers are based on shapes found in the pottery of Eva Zeisel, a Hungarian-American industrial designer whose dishes and vases often had a sensual human look to them, and often worked together in a nesting sort of way.

I made the pitchers on a single block of wood using the reduction method and very shallow carving.

This is how the block looked after I had finished making the prints.

Here's the woodblock print on Echizen Kozo. I made two.

10 May 2019

Ace of Water


Ace of Water
Digitally-assembled collage of scanned woodblock prints
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For the Ace of Water I chose an ancient Egyptian bowl with human feet as a pedestal. I love the way the round bowl is tilted, seemingly vulnerable, or maybe offering itself. The Ace of Water is traditionally interpreted as the start of a new relationship, but I like to broaden the meaning to include any new emotional experience—new feelings about a person or situation, intuition coming into conscious awareness, or new creative stirrings. The energy may not last, but it’s noticeable and free-flowing and often exciting or joyful.

Here's some background about how I built the card:

The hand and clouds were created previously for the suit of Air, so I re-used those images for this Ace. The background is a printed texture that's about 35 inches long in real life to span the whole suit of 14 cards. Since my scanner bed is just 8.5 x 14 inches, it was kind of a bear to scan it. Had to do it in pieces and then carefully reassemble the pieces in Photoshop, but it's worth it to me to have the continuous background through the suit.

The bowl is a woodblock print of a bowl from the Metropolitan Museum. I created it from a single carved block using a blend of regular mokuhanga techniques and techniques from reduction and white line woodblock. There were a lot of bokashi (blends) involved and a slow buildup of color. I didn't count, but I probably took about 15 impressions of color in all and I made an "edition" of two. This method of printing works best when the colors are all in one family like this bowl.

This is the block after all the printing was done. It's not much to look at, but you can see the wood grain on the raised surface, some of which showed up on the final print.
This is one of the two bowl prints. They're remarkably similar given that the process I used is essentially a monoprinting process. I lean towards making smaller and smaller editions, so I like when I can use just one or two blocks for a print. This image is about 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) across in real life.

09 May 2019

The Suit of Water

Random Google search of ceramic vessels

It’s taken me a while to work out the ideas for the next suit, but I’m ready now to tackle the Suit of Water, traditionally known as “cups.” I’ve chosen a clay vessels motif, both to honor the tradition of cups and also because the Suit of Water deals with human emotion and relationships, and I often think of us as being “vessels” for our emotions. Emotions are energies that move through us and we often use language that describes water and vessels when we talk about feelings—we are “filled” with anger, sadness “spills out” or “washes over” us, sensations “stir” us, rage “boils over”… you get the idea. We hold, or don’t hold, our feelings.

Made by the hands of a potter and most often used for everyday activities, there’s an intimate and one-of-a-kind quality that hand made ceramics bear. And many clay vessels communicate a visual personality in their stature, size, and curves. I’m looking forward to finding a vessel for each of the ten Water cards.

I’m also looking forward to making woodblock prints of ceramic vessels as a challenge to my woodblock printing skills. I took a couple of hand built clay classes with a great teacher in Northampton MA, Tiffany Hilton, and although I never got good at it I enjoyed it immensely and developed a lot of respect for the art form. I’m excited about making 2-dimensional printed pots!