one woman's view into a world of creativity

Kappa “Tarot Cards”

This post is long-overdue, but I made a point to do it, better late than never.

For our KKG recruitment bid day, the theme was “Bohemian tea party,” and I received a special request for some Kappa themed tarot cards.  Tarot cards are an intricate set, which special roles and meanings for each card, so I had to take a scaled down approach.  The cards I made cannot be “read,” and they don’t really have accompanying meanings for each image.  Instead I tried to emulate the look and feel of tarot card images.

The main KKG symbols are the owl, the key, and the fleur-de-lis.  But we also have other symbols, like the iris and the sapphire.  I used these and the Greek letters, including my own chapter’s Zeta Pi.  Then I went a step further, using a little creative license to come up with some more.  For example, the keyhole came from the key, and the feather stems from the owl.  The fleur-de-lis is a mythical flower, but said to be a stylized version of the lily, so I made one of those.  So I stretched the limits of our symbols to get a substantial body of cards.  (Only just now did I realize I forgot to make one of the iris.)

To create each card I used simple 3×5 blank (on both sides) index cards.  You can get these very cheap, maybe a pack for a dollar.  I then took a handful and trimmed the corners off of each one, cutting them into rounded corners.

I unified the images by having a blue cool-tone color theme.  I also used the same watercolor and salt technique for the backgrounds of all the cards.  I quickly did random washes with different shades of blue and violet stippled onto the wet surface, followed by a sprinkling of table salt.  It’s a very unpredictable method, but very rewarding when it produces lovely results.  In addition to using table salt, I also added extra drips of water on some of the cards, while on others I used paper towels to dab the washes and selectively remove color.  All of the methods combined creates the feeling of marble.  It also reminds me of the look of a watercolor artist I greatly admire, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

This project was done under a time crunch, so I purposely didn’t spend too long on each card.  I tried to adapt a rapid assembly line creation process.  The drawings had to be simple yet elegant.  I used a lot of gold paint as well as some glitter to accent the cards.  As mentioned before, my primary medium was watercolors, but I also used black Staedtler pens to outline things.  I used a little bit of white crayon in some areas, to repel the watercolor washes.

While I was on a schedule to create these, I am really glad I took the project on.  Putting my perfectionistic tendencies aside and trying to adopt a more rapid and random technique was actually pretty fun.  The final deck of cards are pretty to look at and make a nice collection mounted together on the wall.


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