A Lot Can Improve in Half a Year

Night Crone

I started this piece on May 15, 2017, as a part of my Oracle Deck. I ended up with the image on the right which didn’t fit in well with the deck. This is partly because it feels less grounded than the other cards and partly because it was really poorly done. Creatively, I sometimes find myself painted into a corner (metaphorically or otherwise). When this happens I find that the best solution is to set the entire piece down. This one had to sit for six months, but the end result is a finished work which feels like it belongs in the mystical world which I am creating.

Creating a Witches & Wizards Fantasy Oracle Deck

I’ve been working on a series of fantasy pieces for a potential oracle deck. Each piece is created in Photoshop using photo manipulation and free-use imagery from Google. My goal for each card is to create an image which is rich in magick and meditative mysticism. Creating each character and their surrounding environments is an essential part of that process. I want each card to convey its themes without the use of any outside material. The Regent, for example, looks somewhat melancholic despite her material wealth and majestic backdrop. I have had to discard several pieces which I dearly like because the art simply did not have the meditative quality I was trying to achieve. Perhaps those pieces will find a home in some other project.

I made a video talking about the personal process of creating one’s own oracle cards. At the end of that video, there is a quick slideshow where I flip through the various photoshop layers of several cards. I also created a time-lapse of the entire two-hour process of creating The Sage card.

Tree Frog Tattoo by Sylvie le Sylvie

pacific tree frog tattoo by sylvie le sylvie

My first tattoo. Inked and finalized by Sylvie le Sylvie.

Pacific tree frogs (Pseudacris regilla) are the most commonly heard frogs in British Columbia. They can change their colour in a matter of minutes. As amphibians, they live their lives in two worlds: the submarine life of a tadpole and the semi-terrestrial life of a grown frog. They embrace the elements of Earth and Water, making their homes in each.

The hind legs of my frog are represented by a feather and a leaf of the broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). The feather is a representation of elemental Air. Broadleaf plantain leaves are used to soothe stings and small cuts. They are like natural bandaids!

The square together with the intangible circle represents the altar, a sacred space, with its magickal circle of power.

Surrounding the altar are four offerings. In the upper left is the flower of the bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), an edible, if bitter, taproot. Following clockwise is a representation of solar Fire: the sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). An ammonite fossil (Ammonoidea) resides in the lower right corner. As the remains of an extinct mollusc, ammonites represents the element of Water and mortality.  Elemental Stone (or Earth if one prefers) is represented as a quartz cluster (SiO2).

These were not the original symbols and meanings, though the central image of a frog and its connection to the four elements has remained consistent throughout the three year revision process.

From the beginning I was keen to design the tattoo myself and have that design translated by a tattoo artist to better fit the medium of skin and ink. I wanted to have the tattoo inked in my home town of Nelson, BC. After careful consideration, I found the work of Sylvie le Sylvie, of the Timber Tattoo Co. Animals and plants are plentiful in her work, which has a rich, black and white, aesthetic. After a consultation, she made several changes to the design, arriving at the finished product a week later. The tattoo was inked on a drizzly morning on the day after the vernal equinox.

This is my first tattoo. It may not be my last, but for now I could not ask for a more magickal connection to nature, the elements, and the mineral, floral, & animal kingdoms.

Turning Paperbacks into Beautiful Hardback Tomes 

Recently, I decided to revisit my long standing project of re-covering the books in my library. I’ve been using a new more versatile technique which allows the artist to create many different styles of books. The covers are made from card stock much as the ones made in this blog post. The covers are then decorated with raised designs and covered in a fine paper mâché. The mâché technique ends up looking a lot more impressive in person than I had at first imagined.

For more information on the building of these books, you can watch the video I made documenting the process. I used several other articles for the inspiration and technique behind the creation of these books: For the Love of Books: A Guide to Knocking Together Your Own Journals’08 Halloween #12: Making Creepy Books, Altered Halloween Books Tutorial, new and improved!, and Crafty Mommy & Me.

Title – No, Literally

Last August, I rebound the covers of several books. Unfortunately, I rather slacked off forgot to add titles. I’m home sick today so I decided to kill some time by inking in a title or two. I still can’t think of a way to do titles for the cloth bound books, but my copy of Animals as Teachers and Healers by Susan Chernak McElroy was done in thick paper.

To do the actual title, I first penciled in the font, then traced that over with a fountain pen. When the ink was dry, I erased the pencil, et voilà!

IMG_0246 copy

Foam Board Dragonbone Dagger

Recently I came across Will from stormthecastle.com‘s youtube channel epicfantasy. He has many, many video tutorials on making props, usually swords and other weapons, with foam board. I was fascinated by the level of quality he was able to achieve with such a cheap material. I wanted to try using foam board as a material for myself and I knew that I wanted make another Skyrim prop to go along with my Windhelm guard’s shield. Because I had never worked with foam board before, I chose a small project, the dragonbone dagger. I didn’t take the same number of progress photos as I usually do for my props because Will’s tutorial is excellent and shows in detail all the various steps.

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Smoothed and sealed foam board.

I knew going in that foam board is a flimsy material which cuts easily, but cannot be refined (smoothed out or sanded) to any great degree. One thing which I disliked about Will’s prop was that the seams between the layers of foam were raw. In order to blend the layers of foam board and to fill in the gaps, I used extra hot glue which I smoothed out with my finger, ouchie ouchie! This didn’t quite give me the effect which I wanted so I used silicon to get a more accurate effect. Silicon isn’t really a good choice, but it was what I had available. I would have preferred to use some sort of putty or clay for this. To stop the silicon from peeling and to even out the seams even more, I coated the entire dagger in 5 coats of modge podge. I followed Will’s tutorial for the paint job, then sealed the project with 2 more layers of modge podge.

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