Category Archives: Design

The Making of the “Moonshadow Lenormand”: Part II

And so, following on from Part I of “The Making Of the Moonshadow Lenormand” yesterday, here is Part II.

For those unfamiliar with Lenormand cartomancy, it’s basically a set of 36 cards, with or without playing card inserts. Some readers use the playing card inserts for further depth in their readings, for example to add nuance or to signify people other than the querent. Others regard the pips as a leftover and unneccesary effect from when the first Lenormand decks were created using actual piquet playing cards. Some modern decks do not even have the playing card pips.

The 36 cards, regardless of which artist or publisher, always contain the same archetypes. There are modern, whimsical artist decks with Halloween or Christmas themes, where the imagery is dark and spooky, or bright and festive, and where substitutions might occur…for example in a Halloween themed Lenormand deck, the 1st card, which is the Rider, might instead be The Headless Horseman. And for a Christmas themed Lenormand deck, the Rider may well be Father Christmas on his reindeer sleigh.

Here are the 36 cards in any traditional Lenormand deck, and their corresponding Archetypes:

1 Rider
2 Clover
3 Ship
4 House
5 Tree
6 Clouds
7 Snake
8 Coffin
9 Bouquet
10 Scythe
11 Whip
12 Birds
13 Child
14 Fox
15 Bear
16 Stars
17 Stork
18 Dog
19 Tower
20 Garden
21 Mountain
22 Crossroads
23 Mice
24 Heart
25 Ring
26 Book
27 Letter
28 Man
29 Woman
30 Lily
31 Sun
32 Moon
33 Key
34 Fish
35 Anchor
36 Cross

Here’s an image showing Titania Hardie’s Fortune Cards (Lenormand style) and the 36 cards arranged in a Grand Tableau.


When I first embarked on this Project or Journey, I knew I would encounter a few snags along the way. One of them was finding the archetypal images to go with the cards. Some of the more mundane images, e.g house, tree, clouds, birds etc were easy enough to source via my Samsung Galaxy S4’s camera i.e by taking actual photos. Others were not so easy…you just don’t come across foxes, bears or storks in your everyday meanderings. Or scythes and whips either. And I’d have to travel far to get a snapshot of a real maritime tallship or a mountain.

That’s where Google, Wikimedia and the beautiful term “Public Domain” come into play. I set up folders on my S4 camera roll to house archetypal images that I found online that were in the public domain. This means that I can then utilise these images in my work, without fear of stealing someone else’s copyright to them, as the original copyright owners have already voluntarily relinquished their rights to the image, i.e gifted it to the world, or the copyright has expired, 70 years after the death of the original artist/photographer/copyright holder. For example, I found that the copyright to Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit illustrations expired in January this year, 2014. Similarly, John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and others of the same era, expired years ago.

Anyhow, I managed to cobble together my 36 archetypal images, and so began the real work – using my S4 and Apps to create the imagery for each card.

Of which more in Part III. ;)

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The Making of the “Moonshadow Lenormand”: Part I

Okay, folks have been asking me how I created my first Lenormand cartomancy deck.

This Project had me using a technique I had never even considered before. And it’s such an old technique, by today’s standards. By this I mean the use of a Scanner.

I’d been intrigued by seeing pictures of the Palimpsest Lenormand, by Bertrand Saint Guillain.

Palimpsest : masc. noun, A palimpsest (/ˈpælɪmpsɛst/) is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word “palimpsest” comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος (palímpsestos, “scratched or scraped again”) originally compounded from πάλιν (palin, “again”) and ψάω (psao, “I scrape”) literally meaning “scraped clean and used again”.
Source: (

Here’s a photo of some of Bertrand’s cards:

Here’s an explanation of how and why Bertrand created the Palimpsest Lenormand, taken from his site:

From realisation to the final picture
The drawing is made by hand on standard cards whose original picture has been partially or entirely covered (hence the name). The result is then photographed and slightly adjusted with an image manipulation program to harmonize the whole deck.

Instead of having an insert in the middle of the card, the standard card association is given by the corner indices.

I was strongly intrigued by the whole idea of using the Palimpsest method for my deck. I decided I would use it as a springboard for my own deck. Not copying Bertrand’s deck, but distilling the idea of Palimpsest and giving it my own creative twist.

I already had 2 decks of cheap playing cards, so I sacrificed one. And set to desecrating obliterating altering (hehehe) the central images of the cards with white gesso. I had no Tippex like Bertrand, but I had lots of Gesso to hand. Needs must.

I was coming from a mobile photographer’s point of view, so instead of following Bertrand’s technique of photographing the finished product, like he did, I knew I wanted a digital version I could then work on. So I simply gessoed the 36 cards I needed (reducing the playing cards deck from 52 to 36 by removing the cards numbered 2-5 from each suit) and then I scanned each card, one by one, on my trusty old workhorse, the Canon Pixma MX870 printer-scanner-copier-fax.

I then transferred the scans to my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, which is essentially my studio. To do this, I first had to save the scans to a USB stick, then transfer them to my Mac, then from the Mac I used an App called Photo Transfer (funnily enough) to move them to the S4. Convoluted, but worth it.

Et voila! A Palimpsest deck of playing cards that can be used time and time again, as the template or background to my first Lenormand deck. Or any subsequent Lenormand deck, for that matter. I wasn’t too concerned about whether I’d completely covered the central images on each card or not, or whether I’d gessoed over parts of the side indices, as I like a bit of randomness. Besides, most of the central part of each card would be covered by digital imagery that I would superimpose on them.

The gessoed cards
Close-up of some of the gessoed cards.

Please bookmark this and check out Part II, coming up next, where I will explain how I then used my Palimpsest templates to create my Moonshadow Lenormand cards.

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Introducing the “Moonshadow Lenormand”

I have finally completed my debut Lenormand card deck. And decided to self-publish it through Printer Studio. It was a choice between Printer Studio and Game Crafter, and as I couldn’t get my head around former’s templates but found the latter’s very user friendly, I went with Printer Studio. The company is based in Hong Kong, so I expect turnaround to Australia to be 14-21 days. That’s when I’ll get my hands on the “real” cards, and can assess the card stock and printing quality. I have a couple of decks by other artists, from the same printer, and their cards were nice and smooth and excellent quality.

Here are the links for both Printer Studio and Game Crafter.
Printer Studio
The Game Crafter

So here is a teaser page showing the fronts and backs of some of the cards in my deck.
Moonshadow Lenormand
If you are interested in purchasing this deck, you can find my eBay listing here:

Introducing the brand new Moonshadow Lenormand by AlyZen Moonshadow. The Lenormand divination system is named after Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand (1772-1843), the great fortuneteller who read for the likes of Napoleon and Josephine. Although Mlle Lenormand never designed or created the system that carries her namesake, the Lenormand divination system is faithful to the imagery of the Sibylla of the Salon, who read in the cosy parlours of the gentry, giving practical advice with regards love, romance, finance and even war. It is a very different system from the Tarot.

This is my very first Lenormand divination card deck, created using only my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and Apps, and using either my own photographic images and clipart or images from the public domain.

The accompanying images show the front and backs of all the cards in the deck. There are the usual 36 Lenormand cards, plus an extra Man and Woman card for same-sex readings. Included in the deck also are 2 cards showing some card meanings, and also a card of recommended further reading. 42 cards in total. Your order will come directly from the printers, fresh off the press, in a clear acrylic case. Please allow 14-21 days for delivery, as this is beyond my immediate control.

Postage is Free to wherever you are. Please contact me directly if the item is meant to be sent to someone else, so I can change the delivery details. Thanks for looking!

And here is the listing on Etsy:


Some of you may be aware that I’m currently creating a deck of Oracle Cards to be either self-published or submitted to various publishing houses to be licensed. Click here to find out what Oracle cards are, and here to see examples of my ongoing project so far.

What you don’t know is that behind the scenes, I’ve also been researching, learning and practising another cartomancy system known as Lenormand. This is a lesser known system than Tarot or Oracle cards, but equally important, I think.

So, you’re asking what Lenormand cards are all about? As I’m still a student of this fascinating system and still learning the intricacies of its “language”, I’ll let others with far more experience do the explaining:

From Aeclectic Tarot forum:

The Petit Lenormand deck is based on a regular playing card deck that has been reduced from 52 cards to 36 cards by removing the 2, 3, 4 and 5 pip cards in each suit. The cards are illustrated with various symbols and traditionally also include a miniature of the playing card associated with each symbol. Little seems to be known or understood about the significance of the playing cards, other than that the court cards can serve to describe people in a reading. There are also regional and personal variations throughout Europe in the card meanings.

Several decks named after the French cartomancer Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand (1772-1843), including the Petit Lenormand popular today, were published after her death. However, the Petit Lenormand appears to have been modelled on a deck of cards published much earlier as part of a game of chance, called “The Game of Hope”.

A fellow blogger has written a comprehensive description of how Lenormand cartomancy works, with examples of spreads and explanations of the meanings of the cards in readings. Definitely worth a look and bookmarking, if your interest has been piqued:

My first Lenormand deck purchase was Ciro Marchetti’s “Gilded Reverie”, check out his website for more information. Ciro’s site also sells spread cloths, if that tickles your fancy. Also, you can for the princely sum of $1.50 download a PDF full-length 144-page book on how to read the cards. I highly recommend the “Gilded Reverie” (which you can also easily find on Amazon and eBay), the artwork is detailed and sumptuous without detracting from the meaning of the cards.

image(Photo is of Ciro’s spread cloth illustrating the “houses” of the numbered cards. Just to give you an idea of how lovely the artwork is)

Actually, my first Lenormand deck was one by the brilliantly zany Titania Hardie, nearly 15 years ago. I had her “Titania’s Fortune Cards” for a long time, then they got lost in a series of house moves (I’ve moved 7 times since the year 2000, or 22 times in 44 years, go figure!). I recently tracked down and purchased the same deck again on eBay, and got reacquainted with it. The reason I didn’t initially make the connection between Titania’s cards and Lenormand cards was because her cards have no numbers on them or playing card pips. The images however, are the same archetypes as in any Lenormand deck. It was only while I was first learning about the Lenormand cards recently that I realised there was something strangely familiar about the images – Rider, Ship, House, Stork, Dog, Man, Woman, Child etc, and made the connection.

(Photo shows Titania’s “Fortune Cards” in a classic Grand Tableau spread)

Concurrent with my Oracle Cards project, I’ve been busy creating my own deck of Lenormand cards. I figured what better way of learning than by doing? And what better way of doing than by utilising my digital mixed media photography skills on my Samsung Galaxy S4.

The Oracle Cards project is taking longer, as I intend to do a 52-card deck, with explanations. For the Lenormand, though, there are only 36 cards, so…I’m happy to be able to say that I’ve recently completed my own very first deck of Lenormand Cards, yay!

Watch out for further posts in the coming days, as I will be posting about my Lenormand cards, as well as updates on how the next phase is coming along – where I get my cards printed.

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My Favourite Things Part II : Ceramic Spoons

Yesterday I shared with you some of my favourite Ceramics & Pottery from my Pinterest board of the same name.

Today I’d like to share with you some of my favourite Ceramic Spoons. Yes, don’t ask me why, but I seem to have a passion for decorated ceramic spoons. I don’t have any in real life, but I do on my Pinterest board of the same name.

If you require further information on any of the following images, simply go to my Pinterest board . When you click on any of the images there, you will be transported to its corresponding website.











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My Favourite Things Part I: Ceramics & Pottery

A while back, I quite fancied putting my hand to turning out some ceramic teacups and plates. This dream never panned out, as I realised it would be a really messy affair, and my home life is already messy enough. There was also the question of space. I had none to spare. Besides, I didn’t have the money to buy a kiln for firing my pieces afterwards. No glorious glazes for me then!

So, I took to curating Ceramics, China and Pottery on Pinterest instead. No mess, no fuss, no financial investment involved. And et voila! A virtual collection that I can enjoy and share with my friends at any time.

I also thought about painting plain white ceramic spoons and ladles, just for decorative purposes. I even bought some white spoons for this purpose. And yet again, my intentions got thwarted by other matters. This is me – cosmic magpie, collector of ephemera and all things both real and virtual.

So today I’d like to share with you just a few of my curated Ceramics & Pottery images from my Pinterest board of the same name. If you are interested in finding out more about any particular artist, simply go to to my Pinterest page and click on the images on the Board there.

Tomorrow I’ll share my curated collection of quirky Ceramic Spoons in My Favourite Things Part II.

For now, enjoy!











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All Done With Mirrors

I’m in the midst of not one but two concurrent projects creating Oracle cards and Lenormand cards. For my Oracle card shenanigans, read here. I haven’t blogged about Lenormand cards yet, or indeed about my Lenormand cards project, as I’m still learning about that divination system myself. Rest assured all will be revealed in due course.

So, my idea is to create a deck of Oracle cards, which I will then either 1) approach a publisher to license or 2) self-publish through a Print-on-Demand site. Still having a think about how to get a package together consisting of the deck of cards, a box and what those in the trade call the LWB or the “little white book”.

My Oracle Cards project has passed the 40th mark, out of a potential 52 cards, so it is well on the way.

As for my Lenormand Cards project, I’ve done 12 out of the 36 cards that make up a Lenormand deck. I’m taking my time with this project, as I’m learning about the symbols and meanings as I go along. Fascinating subject, which I will blog about soon enough.

All playing cards have a front and back, right? My digital mixed media photography art will go on the front of the cards, and now I need to create some designs for the back too. Here are some potential card back designs that I created using the App PicsArt, mainly playing with its “Distort” filter which offers image mirroring on X and Y axes, easily creating symmetrical designs.

PicsArt for Android

PicsArt for iOS

Enjoy! (All images copyright AlyZen Moonshadow)








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Aboriginal Black & White Paintings

I am a lover of all things colourful, however some of my favourite Australian Aboriginal paintings are black and white. There’s something almost spiritual about black and white art, almost as if the restrictions imposed by the limitations of colour have brought about another kind of depth or way of seeing.  Australian Aboriginal Art Dot paintings (both the colourful ones and the black and white ones) are steeped in tradition and carry historical meanings and even contain encrypted secrets, however they are also very abstract and modern in their own right.  For me, the beauty of these paintings lies in their ability to straddle the Past, Present and Future.

(The following is quoted from Source:

Dot paintings today are recognised globally as unique and integral to Australian Aboriginal art. On the surface the dot is simply a style of Aboriginal painting, like the use of cross-hatching or stencil art. Exploring deeper into the history of the Aboriginal dot painting a world of camouflage, secrecy and ritual is discovered.

The term ‘dot painting’ stems from what the Western eye sees when faced with contemporary Aboriginal acrylic paintings. This painting style arose from the Papunya art movement in the 1970s. Papunya Tula artists used a process which originally mirrored traditional spiritual ceremonies. In such rituals the soil would be cleared and smoothed over as a canvas (much like the dark, earthy boards used by the Papunya Tula) for the inscription of sacred designs, replicating movements of ancestral beings upon earth. These Dreaming designs were outlined with dancing circles and often surrounded with a mass of dots. Afterward the imprinted earth would be smoothed over, painted bodies rubbed away, masking the sacred-secrets which had taken place.

This ritual was shifted from ground to canvas by the Papunya Tula who eventually added an array of naturally produced colours to the restricted palette of red, yellow, black and white produced from ochre, charcoal and pipe clay.Such pieces reveal a map of circles, spirals, lines, dashes and dots, the traditional visual language of the Western Desert Aboriginal People. However these marks were permanent and due to arising interest made public, creating internal political uproar. Consequently representations of sacred objects were forbidden or concealed through the dotting technique.

Whether a concealer of deeper, spiritual meaning or simply symbols of fruits, rain or feathers the acrylic dot paintings of the Aboriginal People become increasingly complex and innovative artistically. The paintings of Johnny Warrangula Tjupurrula implement techniques of overlaying dots and superimposing patterns causing objects and shapes to merge in and out of one another. Acrylic Aboriginal paintings are highly emotive incorporating an innovative balance of traditional and modern. The dot technique, whether as a concealer or a signifier offers a sense of movement and rhythm causing the flat canvas to sing, jump and dance with energy and life, much like the rituals which inspired them.

Bear in mind that although they may be collectively called Dot Paintings, it’s not just dots that make up the fabric of this painting style. Some artists merge their dots into lines, or paint lines and add dots to either side of them afterwards. Others go to the other extreme and use dots only to emphasise or accentuate circles or shapes. Each Aboriginal Artist has his or her own innate style, no two are alike, and each has his or her own palette of colour and set of symbols that makes his or her trademark. For example, one artist may be known for his Bush Medicine leaves, another for her Witchetty Grubs, and another for her Snakes, another for his Lines.

Here are just some black and white Aboriginal paintings that I have curated from Google Images. Just to show you how diverse they can be.










Emu Feathers close up

I know the question on your mind now is: are these painted using white paint on a black background? Or using black paint on a white background? It’s kind of like how you’d ask “Is a Zebra black with white stripes, or white with black stripes?” :-)

Watch these YouTube videos and find out for yourself!

(Source: Desert Arts Centre)


Will you be my No.222?

Congratulations to the very next person to Follow my humble blog. You will be my 222nd follower, and as already promised here, this is what you will receive as a Thank You (see below).

This is the freebie. It’s A4 size, full resolution.


All you need to do is drop me a line on with your contact details and postal address, and I’ll be sure to post your freebie out to you. :)

Oh, and since some of you who already follow me have asked, ditto if You email me your details and I will send You a freebie too. Limited to 5 (as I’m not quite rolling in money hehe). Offer good on emails received by 20th October.

Namasté! 🙇

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Forget the Man Shed, I want a Woman Shed!

My studio at home is shared with a host of baby Japanese Quails during the summer months, and for the rest of the time with any old thing that happens to end up in our spare room. Luckily, as a mobile photography artist my smartphone is my workspace, and I only need a physical space for when I do actual printing. When that is required, I simply lay down sheets of butcher paper on the floor, which I can whisk away again at a moment’s notice.

Having said that, our garden is big enough for a shed/caravan, so here are 10 of my favourites. I would love to have 1 to call my Studio, please!

(Source: Pinterest)










Last, but not least, this one! :)

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