Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Words, Pictures and Time

Click on any of the images to enlarge.

This post is made in haste while rushing back and forth from the kitchen to be sure that my dinner doesn't burn. There is never enough goddamn time. Anyway, who needs my stupid words when they have images like these from the great Arthur Rackham?

-- Frede.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Life Ain't a Bowl Full of Peanut Butter Cups....

One thing that I think all of my oracle decks have in common is that they reflect the real challenges of life. Unlike some oracle decks, they aren't full of angels and pussyquats and sugar and spice and everything nice. If you all you want from a deck is something to make you feel all warm and cuddly about your life, my oracles are not the first place you should look.

In part this has to do with my background as a storyteller: but because the art is derived from classic storybooks, the decks all feature conflict in its many forms. Conflict is what makes a story, and to a great extent it's what life is about. It's why children's books make such great source material for oracle decks. In the end, it may very well happen that the little angel will come along, clang you on the head with her wand and declare that all is well -- but the odds are against it and it all depends on the hand that life draws for you.

-- Frede.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A few cards are going to have to be oriented sideways.
I guess if they can be sideways in the original book, they can be sideways here.
Actually, "Retreat" is a good card to have sideways.
It can be laid out as "crossing" one or more previous cards.

Click to enlarge.

All illustrations from Rackham's Midsummer Night's Dream.

More to come!

-- Freder.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cognate Cards

Click to enlarge.

Just as there are "cognate words" -- words that sound the same and mean the same things across two or more different languages -- so there are going to inevitably be "cognate cards" between the Oracle and a standard Tarot deck. Two are featured in this update. (The fourth card is a Seven of Wands if I ever saw one!)

You might ask, "why not just make an Arthur Rackham Tarot?" -- Perhaps if my resources of original Rackham books went deeper, I might be able to. As it stands, there aren't enough cards that correspond to those in a tarot deck, and to "force" the correspondences would do both do violence to the art, and make for an ineffective deck. 

Better to have a working Oracle with its own internal logic, than to have a warped and forced tarot deck that no one can connect with.

Hope you like, These illustrations are all from Rackham's Midsummer Night's Dream.

-- Freder.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Dream Begins

Here is the first of the cards taken from Rackham's edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is the frontispiece and depicts Titania asleep under Oberon's spell. This is just the first of 40 images to come.

Click on these small ones to enlarge them. 
These are the last images from two volumes of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
And here we have my first attempt at a card back for the deck. This is a scan of the embossed leaves on the cover of A Midsummer Night's Dream. My first thought was to use this as a background for the front of the cards, but it got lost in the other design elements. With a very little darkening around the edges by me, I think it makes an elegant card back -- though not reversible.

-- Frede.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Click these small ones to enlarge.

In case you aren't keeping count, this update brings the number of cards in the deck up to twenty-one. And I have good news for you.

I rarely use this kind of language to promote my decks, but in the coming weeks you have a real treat in store. The color illustrations that Arthur Rackham created for his edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream rank -- unquestionably -- as among the finest work in his entire career. I've scanned all forty of them from the first edition of the book, and all will be incorporated into this deck. The next update will see the first of these illustrations in use. 

You will be amazed. The play clearly seems to have ignited Rackham's imagination, and he has outdone himself both in vision and execution.

Together with twelve illustrations available to me from Rackham's illustrated edition of Ibsen's Peer Gint, I have enough material on hand to be able to announce that the finished deck will feature at least seventy cards, all in color by Rackham himself: I will not have to resort to coloring any of his black & white illustrations -- which comes as a huge relief to me, because I doubt that I could have done justice to Rackham's work. 

That's all for today. Remind to to yammer at you next time about the profound difference it makes to be able to scan Rackham's work from the original editions, as against modern reprints.

-- Frede

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The RACKHAM Oracle Grows

Four New Cards to Debut
Click on these small ones to enlarge.

I think these illustrations are examples of Arthur Rackham at his absolute best, and am happy to incorporate them into the deck -- although these were particularly difficult to link with appropriate meanings and keywords! If you want to see all the current cards together on one page, just click on the Rackham Oracle link in the sidebar.

-- Frede

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Finding the Meaning

Five new Rackham cards to post today:

Click on the images to enlarge.

Sometimes it's difficult to decide on the titles-slash-keywords-slash-meanings for the cards. The second and third cards above would be good examples of that. I try to look at what's happening in each image and to NOT go with the most obvious thing. The second card is Rackham's color illustration for "Snow White" -- it shows a clearly overcome Snow White just after she has been discovered by the dwarves, just as they have made the decision to care for her -- but as you can see from the dwarf on the right, a little curiosity still remains. Even when the meaning is close to obvious, sometimes finding the right word or variation on a word can be difficult, forcing me to spend quite a lot of time with the Thesaurus! It's a bit like writing a very, VERY short story. I've written both novels and short stories: novels are far more forgiving to a sloppy style, because the success of the novel does not hang on a single sentence. Short stories and children's books are different. The success or failure of a short story or children's book can hang on a single word. One wrong word and it's all over. The same is very much true with an Oracle deck.

Which is why the titles on these cards are not yet set in stone. They can and probably will change right up to the moment that the deck goes to the printer. What you see here is just the nest that I can do in the moment. Fortunately, I have many and many more moments ahead of me before this project is ready to have "The End" typed onto it.

-- Frede.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Three New Rackham Cards

Here are the next three cards in the Rackham Oracle.

Click on the images to enlarge.

I'm amazed at how clean these images are coming, and how a very minimal amount of digital work brings out the details. These newly restored scans look nominally better than the original printings!

More to come, and soon.

-- Frede.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Next in our growing family of frisky Playroom Oracles is
The Arthur Rackham Oracle!

You may have seen the great Mr. Rackham's art on other Tarot and Oracle decks, but our Rackham Oracle aims to be the definitive one.
  • Created from high-resolution scans of original, early-20th Century source materials -- not from inferior modern reprints. These images are from books in my own collection, circa 1910 and earlier.
  • At least 50 cards
  • Some images newly colored by me, have never been seen in color before.
  • Images from Grimm's Fairy Tales, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ibsen's Peer Gynt and more.
  • Thoughtfully assembled into a working oracle. Tarot-sized cards.

First Sample Images
more coming soon! -- click on any image to enlarge

I'll be updating at least once a week with new images, so check back soon!
The Arthur Rackham Oracle is expected to be completed in time for Christmas.

Thanks for visiting the site!

-- Frede.