I have, since the beginning of this year, been attempting to learn how to contemplate / understand / read tarot cards. When I first started out with my new deck (I am learning with the Wildwood deck), I was using a fringed leather bag I made so long ago I’d not care to try to guess (if I wasn’t still a Boy Scout when I made it, then I made it not long after getting out). The bag is still in great shape, and it held the cards without a problem; but where I now live, people don’t look at a man with a fringed leather bag and think, “cool Native craftsmanship.” Granted, I’m not a great fan of living my life by what others think … but I’m also aware that what stands out is sometimes marked for theft or damage, and I didn’t want to take the risk of that happening either to the bag or to ‘my’ tarot deck; and I wanted to be able to carry the cards with me while out and about. I started designing new bags and cases that I could put together, but wasn’t really satisfied with anything I came up with.
About a week ago, while doing some spring cleaning, I ran across a leather day planner in a cabinet …
Although not as old as my fringed bag, it’s been with me for a very long time and has been in use until I started carrying a smart phone this year. I had no intention of throwing this planner away, was wondering what I could do with it or where I could keep it, and then it hit me: I could re-purpose it to hold my Wildwood deck! With some small degree of excitement, I held a couple of the cards up to the planner to see if and how they might fit. I realized that there was space enough to hold the deck and more, if I could keep the deck separated into two equal stacks; but the metal rings embedded in the planner’s spine would eventually mark or tear the cards. I thought about this a while, and went back to cleaning. Then I found an old leather checkbook cover that I’d made for my mother a few years before she passed. When she died, I kept the checkbook cover out of sentimental reasons (there is a story behind the checkbook cover that I won’t go into here). I looked at the cover, at the planner, at the cards, and an idea or two began to form.
Uncharacteristically for me, I stopped cleaning out my cabinets to start holding covers, cards and other pieces of leather together. I usually don’t like to stop in the middle of a project, just to get started with another project … especially if that first project has anything to do with an ordered, tidy home! But this was important enough to me to let fall the vacuum cleaner and leave my cabinet doors open and waiting (gasp!). I took a small screwdriver to the metal rings in the planner’s spine, wiggling here and there to see how they were attached. I was getting ready to take apart something that had been with me for so long – this wasn’t something I took lightly, and I wanted to make sure I could do this without really damaging the planner. As it turns out, the rings were held into the spine under the fabric lining. They weren’t glued in place, or even clamped … with a little targeted levering here and there (Archimedes would have been proud!), I managed to get the metal rings away from the spine without even ripping the fabric. At this point, I felt a lot more sure of myself … I needed to take apart the checkbook cover; and since I was the one who put it together, I knew that with time and patience, I could take it back apart. I should have taken pictures of this cover before I started … the idea when I made it was to do so in a way so that the edges of the leather would never curl or fray, even in my mother’s notoriously well-provisioned purse. Wiggling the metal rings out of the planner took me five minutes. Pulling first the waxed nylon / simulated sinew; then the hemp cord out of the checkbook cover took the better part of an hour. But when I was done, I had a cover and three decent pieces of thick leather to work with.
Glue was my next friend. I usually disdain from using glue when working with leather – I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my crafting, and prefer to rely on more natural materials. But this was not a traditional project; and stitching the leather pieces into the planner might have compromised the planner in ways I wasn’t prepared to allow to happen. So, fast-drying, hold a truck in the air, super glue. I glued in a piece of the checkbook cover to the fabric liner of the back of the planner. Before doing this, I cut a small slot in the middle of this piece, and pulled two smaller pieces of soft leather through, to use as dividers for the two stacks of cards. I glued them into place, glued two longer strips directly on the liner, then glued the piece of checkbook cover with dividers onto the planner’s liner. The divider pieces also needed small slots cut into them, to pull the restraining strips through to hold the cards in place (it wouldn’t do, to unzip the case and have cards go flying out all over the place!). A larger piece of the checkbook cover was next glued into place, to serve as a protective flap for the card stacks; and a thinner strip was glued along where the zipper meets the cards for extra protection and stability. How it all comes together and works can be seen from the pictures – the end result is something that I’m actually quite pleased with, as I can carry this anywhere, stuff it in a backpack and not have to worry about the cards taking damage. One of the other things I like about using the old planner for this purpose is that I can use the little pocket already present in the planner’s liner to hold one or a few special cards that I might want to contemplate further. I think for daily draws, meditations, or beginners such as myself, this is a fairly nice thing to have.