Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Fool on The Hill

Here we have one of the very few cards in my deck that represents an actual character from the novel. In this case, The Fool is Cranch the Clown, the Top Dog in his trade on the whole planet Oakley, where all the world is literally a circus. Cranch has an unusual build for one of his profession, being eight feet tall, six feet wide, and weighing more than a thousand pounds (most of it muscle: clowning is not a sedentary lifestyle choice). And yes, as you can see if you look closely, he has six eyes. Useful for a Fool with a long, hard journey ahead of him, as both my character and the traditional Fool of the Tarot have in common. 

Because I was making a radical choice for the figure (including a body taken from a Schoenhut Circus figure from my mother's vast toy collection), I tried to incorporate as many traditional elements from the Fool card as I could. Instead of a mountain to drop off the edge of, my fool has an arrangement of chairs and ladders to take a pratfall from. Instead of a red feather in his gap, he has red spots on his costume. His dog seems to have wholly given in to the exuberance of the circus. Instead of a hobo's baf on a stick, I wanted to give him what's known in the Circus trade as a Grouch Bag, but could not find any way to make it work. So I gave him a nice durable antique leather bag instead. 

Today I am about to head off on my own brief Fool's Journey! Wish me lock and a safe return so that I can get back to work on what matters to me: this deck, among other things.


-- Freder

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Emperor

I was prolific last week. It helped that, although it tested the limits of my meagre design skills, The Emperor came together relatively easily.

Everyone knows that the Emperor of the Circus is The Ringmaster. But you'd be surprised to know how few photographs of this personage exist. It seems that folks don't go to the circus to take pictures of The Ringmaster! There was nobody and nothing that I could use to manage my circus ring. And so again I was forced into the role of Doctor Fronkonsteen in order to build my perfect Ringmaster out of the body parts of dead people! I think both of the men I selected are much improved by the alterations I made to their physiognomy. 

Neither of them were actually Ringmasters! It took some fairly extensive alterations to make my man suitable for the ring, and for the Tarot, but at the same time everything that I did seemed to fall into place nicely. There was not nearly as much fiddling or trial and error involved in the making of this card as there was with the Wheel or the Moon. 

I'm particularly pleased with the sneaky way I managed to incorporate both the Ankh and the Orb that the Emperor traditionally carries. Also, he normally sits on a Goat Throne. Fortunately, the great and wonderful antique toy set known as The Schoenhut Circus has a goat among its menagerie. The blue of the Schoenhut circus ring also nicely evokes the river that runs through the traditional Emperor card. 

Yes, my Ringmaster is the power behind a TOY circus. But are we not all toys in the hands of The Emperor? And trust me, there has never ever been a better toy than the Schoenhut Circus. It's quite likely that they will be making future appearances in my deck. I wish now that I had kept my mother's Schoenhut Circus. Though incomplete, it was wonderful. But it was a traumatic time, and I had to make a lot of decisions in horrible circumstances. 

It makes me happy to have this particular Ringmaster watching over that circus in the afterlife.

Next: a key card and one that may be controversial: THE FOOL.

-- Freder