Make Something!

By Sheri Harshberger

This is that time of the year when we start planning our holiday gift lists. Sometimes, determining the best gift for your favorite Tarotist can be difficult. You might think that a new deck or book would be the obvious choice, but not always, as everyone’s tastes run differently and it’s hard to figure out what someone might already have without giving away the surprise. The bonus is you have the opportunity to explore some crafts that may be new to you and your creative side, which may help relieve some of the stress of the holidays.

With this in mind, we are sharing ideas in this and December’s issue that might come in handy. In this issue, we tried to focus primarily on handmade items that might take a bit more time to do. 

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Most readers will never turn down a new bag or box for their special decks. If you have an eye for embellishment, a person can easily find small, plain bags and boxes of many sizes at local hobby and craft stores. If you are a bit more ambitious, “up-cycling” and repurposing bags and boxes can be fun, too!

If you are really crafty and can sew, knit or crochet, there are endless possibilities for deck bags! In the photo at the left, the two bags on the left side of the photo were crocheted gifts from friends. The bags on the right side are knitted. The green one was made by Mary K. Greer, which I purchased at a Readers Studio event a few years ago. The multicolored bag, which is more of a sleeve, I made myself. Note the metal embellishments on two of the bags.

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If you sew, buy or upcycle plain bags, consider embellishing the bags with stamps using fabric paint, attaching “flair,” embroidering or otherwise stitching a design for a reader’s special deck. The bag in the photo on the right was created by eight-year-old Ryder George as a special feature with the purchase of his Lenormand deck (one of my FAVORITE decks by the way). It is shown here as an excellent example of bag embellishment.

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Have a friend who has a ladybug-oriented oracle such as the Das Glückskäfer-Orakel (by Gayan Sylvie Winter and Lynn Aman for Urania) and a blank bag? Consider using some waste canvas and crosstitching one or more ladybugs on the bag. Waste canvas is a more loosely woven cross-stitch material which is secured to the fabric to be stitched on. When the design is completed, the loose weave of the waste canvas allows it to be gently removed from beneath the cross-stitching, leaving only the cross-stitched design on the fabric.

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If bags aren’t your “bag” (pardon, pun was intended), then consider getting a plain wooden box from a craft store or office supply and embellishing it. The box in the photo on the right was embellished by a friend as a gift for me and included a handmade matching bag. The inside is lined with felt.


Boxes can be painted, decoupaged, carved or used as a base for carving or sculpture with air-dry clay. Another great source of boxes is cigar store or other stores, such as liquor stores, that sell cigars. I found several used cigar boxes, which are sturdily constructed (mostly of wood), at a local liquor store that sells cigars. As can be seen in the photo on the left, the designs were distinctive and diverse… and they were all very well made and very inexpensive at $5.00 each. These boxes can be altered in the same way as the plain boxes from craft stores, but come in far more interesting shapes and sometimes heavier materials. Although smaller in size, the boxes for Apple iPhones are also very sturdy and well made and can be upcycled.

Can’t find a wooden or nice cardboard box to upcycle? Consider exploring your sculpting skills by making a box or deck container out of air dry or oven-bake clay. I am a fan of a lightweight air dry clay by Crayola. It is white, doesn’t crack when drying and is very lightweight. 

If you have a scanner, camera and printer you can create images that can be printed on lightweight paper and used as decoupage on boxes or gift wrap paper for smaller items. Laser printers work better as the print won’t smear when wet media is introduced on it. 

Table covers and reading cloths can be sewn, knitted, or crocheted. Purchased table cloths can be embellished as described above for bags. Knitting or crocheting makes reading cloths that are cushiony and may also help to keep bits of a junk oracle or runes from bouncing around or off a table when cast as the thicker material absorbs some of the kinetic energy from the bounce.

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