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Book Review – Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook

April, 2019

Book Review
Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook
by Abbey Sy
191 pp. Rockport

“Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook” is a very accessible workbook aimed at beginners in hand-lettering who want to start with a good foundation and traditional letter form styles. The first few pages are spent on exploring the basics of typography, hand-lettering, and layout; there is not a lot of detail on any one topic here, but there’s no fat, either. The prose is very direct and to-the-point, and Abbey Sy includes recommendations for specific tools and methods. 

Sy offers a good variety of styles for the beginner, from simple handwriting and serif letter forms to cursive scripts and bounce-lettering. She walks through the basics of layout, especially for a single quote or short phrase, as well as process — from a rough penciled template to a fully inked and colored end-product. Along the way, she includes many examples of different sketches, scripts, and fully-rendered quotes, to fuel the artist’s imagination. She also offers different character types and variants, special characters, and embellishments.

The introductory material is fairly short, and the rest of the book is made up of practice pages, first for the different letter forms and styles, and then for full quotes. It’s important to note that this book does not delve into traditional calligraphy at all, but focuses on more accessible brush scripts and drawn letter forms. The book is also peppered with handy tips to help you avoid rookie mistakes — always check your spelling before you ink, for example! — and to help you accomplish a finished product. 

While this book may not be of much interest to an experienced hand-lettering artist, it’s a great place to start, especially for anyone who may want to hand-letter their own cards and gifts, or add a bit of pizzazz to their journaling and scrap-booking. Accessible and thorough, “Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook” is a great place to start your hand-lettering journey and build a solid foundation for an ongoing practice. By the time you’ve worked your way through, you should have a thorough understanding of the hand-lettering process, and the ability to create polished, professional-looking typography art and gifts.

Hand Lettering A to Z: A World of Creative Ideas for Drawing and Designing Alphabets on Amazon

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About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Tarot Deck & Journal Review – The Fountain Tarot Deck

January, 2019

Tarot Deck & Journal Review

The Fountain Tarot Deck

The Fountain Tarot is created by Jonathan Saiz, visual artist, written by Jason Gruhl, writer, and designed by Andi Todaro, graphic designer. The deck was originally self-published in 2013 via a Kickstarter project and is currently published by Roost , an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc., 4720 Walnut Street, Boulder CO 80301.

The deck itself consists of 79 cards, the typical 56 Minor Arcana cards and 22 Major Arcana cards, along with a bonus 23rd Major. The 23rd Major Arcana card is named “The Fountain,” the signature card of the deck, and assigned the values of infinity, oneness, and being fully awake. The deck is printed on sturdy cardstock (similar to the Wild Unknown Tarot), with a matte finish, almost powdery to the touch. The stock is sturdy enough to make a “bridge” or “riffle” shuffle a bit challenging, but the cards are otherwise easy to handle and nicely-substantial to the hand. The cards are 2¾ by 4¾ inches with a narrow white border around the images and a startlingly reflective silver guild on the edges of the cards. The titles of the Minors are at the bottom of the card image and at the top for the Majors, both in an easy-to-read font.

The deck comes in a very sturdy and practical hard cardboard glossy box designed by Andi Todaro that has a magnetic closure and a ribbon that allows the deck to be lifted from the box, rather than dumped out. There is plenty of room in the high-quality box to securely store the deck and the companion book that comes with it.

The softcover companion book has 112 pages. After a brief note from the creators of the deck, there is a suggested daily practice, a description of The Fountain card, the Major and Minor Arcana, the suits of the Minors, a few suggested spreads, and a sample reading and interpretation. The rest of the book is devoted to the individual cards themselves, with a page for each card containing the name and number of the card, a keyword, a brief description of the card image and the symbolism and artistic choices made in the creation of the image, and an upright and reversed meaning.

The images are modern and somewhat minimalist, with a subdued palette and geometric lines and angles. The art has an abstract or contemporary feel similar to the slight distortions of expressionism and combined with the non-traditional images, could be challenging to those who are more confident working with the traditional images of the Tarot. However, the artwork is not simple or shallow by any means. Each card image originated as an original full-size oil painting by artist Jonathan Saiz, giving each card image depth, power and intensity. The back of the cards, designed by Andi Todaro, have a beautiful geometric kaleidoscope design containing the palette of the deck and easily reversed (for those who read reversals).

If you are an intuitive reader, this deck might interest you. Normally I would not recommend a deck with non-traditional card images for beginners. Yes, the images do deviate somewhat from the traditional R/W deck in part because of their fluid abstract interpretations of the more traditional Tarot symbolism, however these ethereal and dream-like images are strongly grounded within the known and established traditional meanings found in the companion book, so the images make sense even to someone who has just begun to work with the Tarot. The setup of the companion book is well-balanced, with equal consideration given to the Minor Arcana as to the Major Arcana (unlike many companion books, which often offer more information and suggested interpretations for the Majors).

The Fountain Tarot Journal

Also available as a companion to The Fountain Tarot is The Fountain Tarot Journal: A Year In 52 Readings, also published by Roost . The Journal has a matte finish color soft cover and 160 pages; it begins with a Note From the Creators followed with some useful information including How to Use This Book, Tarot Basics, Sample Spreads, among others. The rest of the 130 pages are for journaling, beginning with instructions for choosing a Card of the Year, space for a 3-card, 5-card and 10-card reading, and then space for the 52 readings (with 2 pages for each reading), including Quarterly Cards and summaries, and ending with a Year-End Summary and Reflection. Each reading section has space for the date and time, the question asked, traits and meanings, initial reaction, connections/relationships between the cards, patterns and themes, a summary of what the cards represent, personal reflections, action to be taken, and people to enlist. Although presented as a companion to The Fountain Tarot, this Journal could be used with any Tarot deck, and it offers a useful tool and process for nurturing a deep connection to the cards of Tarot.

The Fountain Tarot: Illustrated Deck and Guidebook on Amazon

The Fountain Tarot Journal: A Year in 52 Readings on Amazon

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon