A few years ago, I wanted to create a wooden Ogham set for myself (erm, wait a minute, wasn’t the title about a Lenormand?), my very first set actually. Many of you have probably already seen it because I already posted some pictures of it. It’s my favorite Ogham set, proudly made by me from A to Z. However, I never talked much about the process of its creation, and why the sets that I offer in my shop are so different.
I was a literature student at the time, so as expected, definitely broken. But I still was admiring the craft of Sarah Anne Lawless, who had just finished a wonderful Ogham set, each piece of wood illustrated with a representation of its associated tree or bush. Entirely handmade, from the first cut to the wax finish, all beautifully and carefully engraved and painted… This, guys, this made me dream a lot, especially since I wasn’t able to afford such an amazing piece of art like this 😛
But an idea popped into my head, and soon enough I was starting to consider making one set myself. I had a nice woodburning pen already available, and to be honest I was quite good at it. So one day, I just started this project, knowing that it would take me a lot of time to make the full set, but quickly realizing that I had underestimated the impact of my schedule as a student. Creating this Ogham set has been the case of whole months, and it was all accompanied by a lot of scratches and blisters on my hands, due to my lack of knowledge of woodwork, and certainly a lack of good tools for it too.
After the excitement of beginning a new project, there’s been a few moments of total discouragement, where I found myself not wanting to touch a piece of wood ever again. I was desperate to see the end of it, and I was constantly asking myself why I started this in the first place. But I kept going. I clung to the idea of this beautiful and entire set of Oghams, imagining the well hoped result before each new session of work. I kept piling sawdust on one side, pieces of used sandpaper on the other, and I kept spilling watercolor on my desk while trying not to burn my arm on the pyrography pen left still hot just beside me (another inconvenient of a student apartment: the cruel lack of space).
For someone who enjoyed to begin all sorts of projects but was struggling to finish them, let me assure you that this one in particular was a huge challenge for me. Plus, I’m a perfectionist, which doesn’t really help in this case. But throughout this process of creation, I found myself able to push the limits of my perseverance despite fatigue, lassitude, self-criticism and painful hands.
As an additional motivation, I often repeated myself that what really matters wasn’t the destination, only the way, but guess what? Once I’ve finished this Ogham set, I almost swore to myself that I would never do this kind of thing again. I was really proud of the result, but the path had been so long and difficult that I couldn’t even consider taking it again.
A few weeks ago, a new idea popped into my head, one that I really wasn’t expecting. A new project, just as big as the one I just talked about. One that will with no doubt consume my time and energy for a while (at least, I have better tools now, yay!). Encouraged by a few people to whom I had vaguely evoked the idea, here I am, beginning to work on a set of Lenormand on slices of wood again.
I came to be seriously interested in Lenormand in the first part of the year. It’s a divination system that one can learn relatively easily in my opinion, and the more I work with it, the more it keeps getting more interesting and rich. I can now relate each symbol to my personal experience, I continue to find new meanings along the way, I expand my vocabulary… And now I wish I just had a deck that’s just right for me, that’s speaks to me in my own language and understanding. So here I am, drawing a few ideas on the corner of a notebook, to finally have them burned on wood, my favorite material, my daily companion.
As I’m writing this article, I already worked a lot on this new project, since I managed to finish the 12 pieces that you can see in the picture just above (I know, you can only see 11 of them, but let’s keep an element of surprise here). It means I’ve actually done a third of the 36 traditional symbols of the Lenormand. I haven’t done all the illustrations on paper yet, but I have a pretty good idea of what the missing ones will look like. And even if it is a personal work, not directly related to the shop, I still want to share my progress with you 🙂
I obviously have a great number of hours to spend before seeing this new set completely done, I’m not kidding myself with it this time. Between the preparation of the slices of wood, the drawings and their reproductions, the actual engraving and the dying with walnut ink, the acrylic painting (and I could have add some gilding too if it wasn’t complicated enough), I have some stuff to be busy for quite a while! But the thing is, I’m moving in a more peaceful way this time, less pressure on myself, less perfectionism stress… and the best, I have no blister to declare yet :p