This is the first post in a series about the Tarot Rug Show--possibly quite a long series, as there is a lot to say and many photos to show. I'll try to keep individual posts picture-heavy.
I've written about the origins of the show here. It opened last Friday at the All Souls Interfaith Gallery (ASIG) in Shelburne, Vermont, and will be there through January 22nd or so.
But before I get into that, I have a surprise to show. I drove up Friday (4 hours, ugh) and stayed in an Airbnb I had selected because it was near the show location. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this on the upper landing of the condo, just outside my room:
Not only was the accommodation itself an inexpensive delight, but a hand-hooked rug greeted me. As it turns out, this little cutie was designed and hooked by the hostess's mother, to commemorate the family's cats Oscar (Peterson) and Miles (Davis), named after the two jazz greats. Oscar and Miles were very much alive when this rug was designed, but are now sadly long gone, as are their namesakes.
I so loved the original design and whimsical nature of the rug! Both Miles and Oscar look well-fed and assertive, staring out at us as only cats can do. I love the padula-posy borders and the wonderful backgrounds. Everything about this rug makes me smile. My Airbnb hostess was named Lydia, and Lydia's mom only hooked two rugs--this one and one other which is not of her own design. I didn't see the other rug, alas, but I'm sorry Lydia's mom is no longer hooking. Apparently she's now into watercolor. I hope she begins hooking rugs again, and I hope Lydia brings her to the tarot rug show, as I think anyone would enjoy it--but someone who knows how to hook rugs will enjoy it even more.
(And of course, if you know anything about tarot, you will also find it thought-provoking!)
You do not need to know anything at all about either rug hooking or tarot to love this show--but more about that starting with the next post in this series.
Before I begin to show the rugs (I can probably only show a few a day, and there are 22 of them, so that's why this will take a while), I just want to say something about the venue. Namely: it's EXQUISITE. Here are some views from inside:
And here are some photos to give you some sense of the gallery space. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to see the individual rugs here--I'll be posting the rugs individually over the next several days, so you will have a chance to see each one close up. Just take a moment to get a sense of the space they are in. Talk about spectacular:
Please remember that photos of the individual rugs are going to be posted here slowly over the next few days, but here's a little temptation for you. You will soon be able to see each one much more clearly.
My goal today is to give readers just a taste of the gallery itself, not of the rugs.
Oh, and why aren't there any people looking at the rugs? Because I took these photos "off-hours" before the show actually opened.
In addition to the lovely, elegant interior, the grounds of the venue are beautiful beyond belief, with that amazing view all the way down to Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. The property was apparently originally part of Shelburne Farms, which was gifted in a parcel of 1500 acres to a daughter of the Webb family upon her marriage (ok, let's hear it for the power of wealth and the Webb Family in Shelburne--Electra Havemeyer Webb created the Shelburne Museum just down the road, but that's another story entirely).
This smaller parcel of several acres houses ASIG and was originally built as a home by members of the Webb family. I believe ASIG has owned it now since the early 90s, though I could be wrong. It is truly a dramatically lovely site; not only the land, but the buildings are elegant and meticulously maintained. The Sanctuary is absolutely stunning, even more dramatic than the photos of the gallery above, which are from another building entirely. I am kicking myself for not having photographed the interior of the Sanctuary.
Why didn't I do that? because I was giving tarot readings to viewers of the show during the entire opening. And the following day (an all-day rug hooking event was held in the Sanctuary the day after the opening) I was giving readings to any participants who asked for one. And nearly everyone wanted a reading, so I'm betting I gave close to 30 readings during the two events.
Rug hookers are just the loveliest people in the world.
More information about the two organizers, the curious story of what occurred during the creation of the tarot rugs, and the start of showing the individual rugs in closeup views.
Well. It's almost done. The hooking is done. Next comes:
And you wonder why hand-hooked rugs are so expensive. Every time you buy a cheapo hooked rug from China (and they are out there, plenty of them), you are disempowering an American or Canadian artist. But it's not my intention to get on THAT soapbox today.
And now...the rewards:
So after all this hooking (not to mention the Big Yarn Dyeing Project over the last six days), I decided to self-indulge with some rewards. My new freaky shoes (see the post from two days ago), one of which is visible in the rug photo above, were the start of an orgy of self-indulgence.
Just today my new dye spoons arrived from Gene Shepherd's online store. These arrived with lightning speed. I think I may even have ordered them on Thanksgiving, just last Thursday, and it's only Monday. I love them. They have so many advantages in this form, and I love that the measures go from 1/128th to 1 full teaspoon.
They were expensive, as all good dye spoons are, but I know the value of top-of-the-line tools, and these are definitely in that category.
There's more though.
Here are Carrie Paris's beautiful new Relative Tarot Cards, which you can find more about here. I can't wait to begin using these. (They are sold out temporarily but she'll be reprinting soon.)
While I am taking a short break from dyeing massive quantities of yarn for my new Moon & Clouds rug, I'll really enjoy working with Carrie's cards. And of course, I will be working with tarot at the opening of the tarot rug show on Friday.
Well, after scaring the pants off of readers with yesterday's post on my new shoes, I thought I'd post something more subdued today.
I really needed those silly shoes yesterday as I was in a dark mood all day. Really not sure why, and that is very unusual for me. Part of it may have been weather-related as it was dark, gloomy, and rainy out, but normally that's not an issue. Who knows! The shoes cheered me up, and doing that tile cheered me up just before I went to bed.
BYDP (Big Yarn Dyeing Project) DAY 6:
After getting nothing done yesterday except cleaning the house, I was back in the dyepots today. Three more skeins are just about ready to come out of the oven, and with them, I will have officially finished 1/4 of the dyeing for the background for this large rug.
The background will be 4 colors of dark purple, and today's haul completes one of the four. I need at least 8 skeins of each. I have 6 more dyed of color #2 already, and 2 skeins of color #3, so I am nearly halfway there.
Doing a small batch and then cleaning up today was easier than just leaving my kitchen set up for dyeing for several days in a row. That was incredibly disruptive.
I will be busy for part of this week at the upcoming opening of the tarot rug show in Vermont (see my earlier posts for details on that); this means I needed to "park" the Big Yarn Dyeing Project today. It will be several days before I can resume.
Beginning in December, an exhibition of art rugs will be opening in Shelburne, Vermont (USA). The exhibit's title is: "23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana." The theme was conceived by two inspired rug artists, Michele Micarelli and Loretta Scena. I hope you click on their links and look at their previous work. (These ain't your grandma's hooked rugs, that's for sure.)
The exhibit combines two of my favorite things: rug hooking and the tarot. I have a rug in the show; it's likely going to be the plainest rug there, because it's the last rug (the last tarot card) in the Major Arcana, The World, and I wanted my design to integrate and summarize the rest of the exhibit. Alas, I do not have a picture of my rug yet. When I do, I'll happily post it, but I did put up a few "sneak preview" partial photos here and here, before I was able to talk about the show (when it was still hush-hush).
The show is opening at this gallery. After it finishes its run, it will travel to other locations and venues for as long as there is interest. (if you are reading this before it opens December 4, 2015 or after it closes January 22, 2016, you will have to SCROLL DOWN to see the information about the show and the photograph of one of the extraordinary rugs.)
And they will be extraordinary. I have seen two of them (one is on the gallery site) and am already drooling with anticipation until I can see the rest of them.
AND NOW, ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT TOPIC:
Here's a quick picture relating to what I hope to be doing tomorrow.
Yup, more yarn soaking...with luck, more dyeing will happen in the morning. More test colors for the Moon & Clouds rug.
I want to create a lighter version of two of the colors I produced last week, and experiment with new colors.
It's true that I dyed all the background for my tarot rug as recently as last autumn (see the links above for photos of that), but that was the first dyeing I'd had a chance to do for decades. Now that I'm back in the dyepots, the bug has really struck and I can't wait to play with color again. I'm hoping to create a veritable explosion of color as I move forward.
"Purplish brown? Let's agree it
is a color so bad we all flee it
it has no good use
so let's name it Puce
from the sound we make when we see it."
A quote about Georgia O'Keeffe's work:
"...The last mad throb of red just as it turns green; the ultimate shriek of orange calling all the blues of heaven for relief and support... each color almost regains the fun it must have felt within itself on forming the first rainbow."
Truth to tell, this was a week for which I barely have anything to show. I did get to the studio a couple of times and I did do some tangling, but other commitments (and a long binge on YouTube with a PBS-based mystery series) meant I neglected things. I did some tarot work for ten people on Friday evening which kept me quite busy as well, between the preparation, the drive to the venue, the work with each client, and the trip home.
But mostly I feel like I just fiddled around this week...frustrating.
Here are two things I did accomplish:
#1: A 10.5" tile. This is at the preliminary, pre-coloring, pre-shading stage. It's been sitting for days while I decide what to do next.
#2: I made it to the studio for a chunk of time and finished one of the short borders. One more to go, and then the final outer border. Here's the progress on that:
I am listening to Jane Austen's Emma on my iPhone while hooking. It's just delightful.
Compare the above photo to where I was on October 24th:
Yup, it's definitely progressing. I'm pleased.
One very fun thing I did this week was to spend a fair amount of time over two days with my friend K, "helping her" dye some yarn for her next rug project. That's in quotes because I suspect I actually got in her way much more than I helped. I will start dyeing my own yarn for my own (very big) rug project within the next couple of weeks, and expect that will keep me busy for a very long time.
I hope I can get more done in the week to come. I have a long trip scheduled on one day, so we shall see...
Continuing yesterday's theme...
Surprise #1: Another bunch of Rainbow Pencils (a different brand I found on amazon) arrived in the mail today from China, so I tried them out. Good thing that these Rainbow Pencils are cheap, because I hate them. They cannot be sharpened to a good point, and the lead keeps breaking during sharpening. Ugh! I would not recommend this brand at all. Here's a photo of what NOT to get:
Surprise #2: My back is demonstrably better this afternoon. Hallelujah! May it continue.
Surprise #3: I thought I'd try out the new Rainbow Pencil on another "String Thing" tile for the same challenge as yesterday, #111. So once again I tried Hamail, the focus of this challenge, with some Meringue and a little bit of Tipple. Here it is...but the big surprise is the next photograph, in which I used the same tile but mirrrored it with my iPhone mirror app...and just look what happened. All I can say is, wow.
I simply cannot believe what that mirror app did to my "so-so" tile. I love it.
On the downside, you can see what not being able to get a sharp point does to the lines in the tile--very cloudy and mushy. A nice effect if that's what you want, but as it happens, it isn't what I wanted. That's ok, though, as I love the mirrored version anyway.
Once I saw that, I had to try it in another app on my phone called Waterlogue. Here's that one.
I'm really writing this post to myself. Reminding myself: Just try. Never mind the past...just try.
I have a long history of spectacular failures when trying to follow simple directions to assemble things like basic furniture, tv and computer setups. This is one reason I've never set foot in Ikea. If what I hear is correct, when you buy something there you have to put it together when you get it home. Eeeeek!
Years ago when I used to make my own clothes occasionally, I cannot count the number of times I sewed things with the right side facing in and wrong side facing out. Even when following directions carefully. I would screw these things up no matter how many times I checked and double-checked myself.
So when I bought a cheap rolling cart with drawers to hold art supplies at the studio and realized it had to be assembled, I was highly dubious. SHUDDER. But no pain, no gain...right? Assuming the worst, and too embarrassed to ask for help, I gave it a shot.
Of course I did make one huge mistake, despite studying the parts and the directions for quite a long while. But I was able to un-do that and then re-do it, and all turned out fine. I'm now incredibly chuffed about having put this stupidly-simple cheapie set of drawers together. Triumph!
<visualize fist pump here>
After which I went out and bought another one just like it and put that together as well. With nary a curse word spoken along the way.
Ok, that's kind of a lie. But almost nary.
So now I have two of these cheap rolling carts and I can't wait to load them up with pens and art tchotchkies. And as of this morning, I've got my table set up on sawhorses, so I can work on days when it's not horrifically hot.
I really need to remind myself to treat these scary (for me) "some assembly required" jobs as mindfully as possible. To take things one breath at a time, look at the directions--even when they are badly written, as is often the case--and just go slowly. To expect the unexpected. To know I can get better with practice; the second cart went together really easily. I can do this. Really. And to know that I can ask for help if I end up needing it. I'm sure my kindly studio-mate would have pitched in. Fortunately for her, I did this when she was out of the studio.
Finally, yesterday I combined two things I totally enjoy. I worked on my rug for a while, and then did some tarot work with a friend on a dream she had. We were interrupted, so while she was busy with something else I went back to working on my rug, knowing we would finish the tarot work later. At one point I looked up and saw this:
Definitely a fun afternoon.
Feel free to skip the whining prose below and scroll down to the pictures! Fair warning...
It's official; I've now been sick since March 31st. "Well isn't that special," as the old character on Saturday Night Live used to say. I did have ten wonderful, short, health-filled days in late April in between illnesses. During that time I managed to make it to New York City for Readers Studio 2015, the fabulous multi-day annual tarot conference. I was home for a day or so, then off to upstate New York for a few days to visit a good friend. It was when I was on the way home from her house that the damn head cold boomeranged back on me and I've been completely out of it ever since.
Today, for the first time, I can feel it just starting to fade. I cannot wait to be healthy again.
Spring has been coming on with a vengeance, largely unseen by me as I haven't had the energy to go out. It is truly glorious out there. When I am recovered enough to get around again, I hope to hoof it down to the Greenway and see this fabulous new art installation from Janet Echelman (with thanks to Tom for sending me this photo, which he took last night):
Oh my gosh, isn't that beautiful? And during the day, from what I hear, just as beautiful but very different.
I gotta go!
Speaking of "Gotta Go," I may have been too sick for any real work for weeks, but I managed to get in a few tangles. One of them has that for a name (believe it or not, I think its creator says she discovered this one while looking at the floor in a ladies' room she was visiting). This was my first try at it:
You can see an extra line I started to put in there, since I'm a newbie at it. Love this tangle. Decided to try it again with a variation:
And speaking of floors, when I got to the tarot conference and saw the Marriott Hotel Lobby floor, I had to laugh as it's a direct link to the tangle "Florz." I have seen a zillion floors with this design and bet you have also.
Here are a few other experiments with Zentangle® I've done while being so sick. There are a pitiful few of them, as most days I didn't have the energy.
All of them are my first attempts. I can only get better!
This also arrived from Amy Oxford's Oxford Rug School:
What the heck is that, you ask? Maybe this will make it more clear:
Half my order of natural-colored rug yarn, waiting for me to dye it for my next rug. Once the weather gets hot...as it was today...I won't be doing any dyeing until things cool down. But that's ok, as I have another rug on the frame now and it will take a while, and in the meantime I can get busy with color planning so I'll know what colors to dye.
For someone who has been so unable to work for a while, I can sense a burst of artistic energy coming on, once I'm recovered! (Whine, whine)
"The very fact that you are a complainer shows that you deserve your lot." (James Allen)
"You can overcome anything if you don't bellyache." (Bernard Baruch)
After drawing on the front page of my new journal in the last post, I was left thinking just how FLIMSY the paper cover felt. It wouldn't take much to have it bend and crease. And, I noticed that it was absorbing oils from my fingers, as I mentioned in that post. I kept thinking I needed to use some kind of fixative on the cover. Putting out a call to my fellow CZTs for suggestions, I happily got quite a bit of input on what to do, the most interesting of which was to laminate the cover. Yes! It would solve three problems at once: Preserve the drawing, stiffen the flimsy paper, and prevent oils and spills from damaging the cover.
But lamination takes a machine and heat, right? That's when I happily discovered self-adhesive laminating sheets. It took me a while to locate some, but I've now ordered more. I can see all kinds of uses for these handy dandy things.
To test them out, I took another old-but-similar journal and drew on its cover, then tried my first-ever lamination on it, figuring that if it was a disaster, I would not have wrecked my other new journal. This old journal (below) is one I've been using for random workshop notes and it's a mishmash of a lot of my random interests. And the handwritten notes inside are m-e-s-s-y. Really messy. But I love the cover! My amateur attempt at lamination came out great. After laminating the cover on this journal for practice, I immediately did the cover on my new journal. I could not be happier with the results. What a great idea! Thanks, fellow CZTs.
Except... I like the cover drawing on my old, half-filled, messy journal (picture to the left) so much that I'm feeling very sorry it's so m-e-s-s-y inside.
Doesn't THAT sound familiar...as in, the way we labor over our outer appearance to others, and often forget to pay attention to our own inner presence? I hope this isn't a reflection of my life at the moment, LOL.
Doing this has got me all excited about drawing, all over again. Doesn't take much...
I bought about ten of these journals in a batch about thirty years ago, thinking I would love them, but the plain covers and the inside strangely textured blue paper meant that after filling up the first one I let the rest languish. Now, suddenly, I am full of ideas about what to do with them and am glad I have a few left.
"Corn and grain, corn and grain,
All that falls shall rise again."
- Wiccan Harvest Chant
Carolyn Cushing from Easthampton, MA, owner of The Art of Change Tarot, poet, and all around sweetie-pie, ran a lovely Equinox Circle Teleseminar last evening. I was honored to be invited.
There is something so magical about the Autumn Equinox...I notice I often cannot tell when spring turns to summer or when fall turns to winter (the Summer and Winter Solstices), as solstice seasonal-turnings always tend to blur into each other in my view.
But the Equinoxes...they are both unmistakable. After the starkness and silence of winter, spring bursts forth. And after the brilliance and lushness of summer, all of nature suddenly pauses, cools, and turns inward in the autumn. The Equinoxes are far more dramatic to me. And for that reason, far more magical.
Here is an autumn poem to savor, from Annie Finch:
A Crown of Autumn Leaves By Annie Finch
For Mabon (fall equinox), Sept. 21
Our voices press from us
and twine around the year's fermenting wine
Yellow fall roars
Over the ground. Loud, in the leafy sun that pours
Liquid through doors,
Yellow, the leaves twist down
as the winding of the vine
pulls our curling voices--
Glowing in wind and change,
The orange leaf tells
How one more season will alter and range,
Working the strange
Colors of clamor and bells
In the winding of the vine
our voices press out from us to twine
When autumn gathers, the tree
That the leaves sang
Reddens dark slowly, then, suddenly free,
Turns like a key,
Opening air where they hang
and the winding of the vine
makes our voices turn
and wind with the year’s fermented wine
One of the hanging leaves,
Tightens its final hold, receives,
Through, and is covered soon
in the winding of the vine--
Holding past summer's hold,
Open and strong,
One of the leaves in the crown is gold,
Set in the cold
Where the old seasons belong.
Here is my crown
Of winding vine,
Of leaves that dropped,
That fingers twined,
to yield and shine
with a year’s
So what is the connection between the Equinox and tarot, the title of this post? Any dramatic time of change always inspires me to pull out my tarot deck. Tarot does not interest me as a fortune-telling device, nor do I think it's particularly helpful to use as a predictive tool. Instead, I use it to mirror what is going on around and inside me--more as a psychological tool. I find it extremely helpful to deepen my connection to my inner self, and also to point out what is happening around me or within me that I may simply not have noticed. Those little painted cardboard pictures have a way of going straight to the heart of things.
While I would have done an Equinox reading anyway, when Carolyn emailed last week to say that she was doing a teleseminar on the topic, and would I be interested, I jumped at the chance. Carolyn is a wonderful reader, although "reader" is perhaps a poor description of what she does; she is actually a superb prompter and question-asker, two things I deeply appreciate. She believes, as I do, that the answers to our questions are already within, only needing to be coaxed out by the right questions.
In 90 minutes last night, our small group of truly wonderful women (I believe there were only about 7 or 8 of us, the perfect size for a circle), guided by Carolyn's pre-planning and skill, opened an Equinox Circle and welcomed the Triple Goddess in the form of Persephone, Baba Yaga, and Sheela na Gig. Quite the trio. Carolyn had drawn these three Goddesses as the guides for our group from Ellen Lorenzi-Prince's Dark Goddess Tarot. That is a deck I do not own (which didn't matter for our purposes last night).
Based on her drawing of this trio, Carolyn had formulated the following four prompts for us to use when doing some Equinox Tarot Play together:
Participants used a variety of decks, from the Gaian to the Dark Goddess. I used my "homie" deck, the Thoth.
I pulled the following four cards in answer to the above four questions.
Of course, all of us pulled different cards. Carolyn then skillfully led us through a discussion of how these four prompts drew answers from us as we each looked at our cards. My own interpretation of my cards was:
"Leaves will fall, and blow away.
Do not interfere."
To close, a Mary Oliver poem HERE.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society