Search This Blog

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fortune Teller Cards


I often get asked how I came up with the idea to make my antiqued fortune teller cards, so I thought I would do a post on the story behind them. 

The "Gypsy Handbook" for sale in my ETSY shoppe.
I have always loved the romantic and mysterious idea of a wandering gypsy, so a few years back I started researching, writing and designing the “Gypsy Handbook” in my shoppe. Although truly a stereotype, I love the idea of a free-spirited gypsy traveling around the world in her caravan, using her mystical powers of clairvoyance to tell strangers’ fortunes for a living. Using her crystal ball and fortune telling cards she could change your life. 

An "perfect" photo of a gypsy and her caravan.
While I was researching images to use inside the Gypsy Handbook, I came across some really amazing vintage photos and illustrations, such as the ones I use for the “mystery message” fortune teller cards. 


The images you see on the "Mystery Message" Fortune Teller Cards
are from the early 1900s. Each image has a secret message written
backwards on it. In order to read the secret message, you must
hold a mirror up to it!
I LOVED all these images, but still wasn't sure what to do with the ones I didn't use in the Gypsy Handbook.

As I kept reading more about gypsies, crystal balls, and telling fortunes, I thought how fun it is to find a vintage Fortune Teller machine, put your money in and wait patiently for the little card to pop out so you can find out what the future has in store for you. I never miss a chance to get my fortune, whenever I am lucky enough to come across a Fortune Teller. My favorite vintage Fortune Teller is Esmeralda, who sits on Main Street in Disneyland, California. I’ve been giving my coins (now dollars) to Esmeralda for decades in exchange for my fortune, and she has been the most accurate clairvoyant who has foretold my future! 


Esmeralda sits in the arcade on Main Street
at Disneyland, California. She has been
there since I was a little girl!


After the movie “Big” became popular in the 1980s, I think people became enchanted with the Zoltar Fortune Teller machine. I know I was anxious to find one sometime in my travels. Finally in the 1990s, I was thrilled to finally find one on the Santa Monica Pier in California. I loved that when you put the money in the Fortune Teller Machine, Zoltar moves his head and arms and tells you a bit of advice, before the Fortune Teller Card pops out of the slot! It's wonderful! I still have the cards I collected from him back then! AND just recently I have found many Zoltar Fortune Tellers on my travels! Zoltar has become quite popular and I'm thrilled!

The mysterious Zoltar
Zoltar's Fortune Teller Cards are my favorite Fortune Cards because of the lovely, detailed, vintage-looking illustration on the back of the card. His cards were really my inspiration for the Fortune Teller Cards I make today. The first time I saw a Zoltar card, I thought how much I love looking
at the image on the back of the card as much as I love reading my fortune on the front, and I wanted to make a card like that!

Many fortunes that come out of the Fortune Teller machines
are blank on one side. But I love the Zoltar Fortunes, because
they have a great vintage-looking illustration on the reverse
side of your fortune.
I started with the “Mystery Message” images to make my first set of Fortune Teller Cards.

The "Mystery Message" series of Gypsy Fortunes

I also had a lot of great vintage images of gypsies and fortune tellers using a crystal ball. I used a few for the Gypsy Handbook, and eventually thought I would use the rest to make a “Crystal Ball” series of Fortune Teller Cards.

The "Crystal Ball" series of Fortune Teller Cards.

I also have a series of “Vintage Rose Gypsies”, which are sepia photographs of gypsies with flower images. These were for a custom order I did a year or so ago a lovely woman who wanted 100 cards for a special event, and wanted something in dusty pink. Since I had the images, I thought I would offer a set of those on Gypsy Fortune Cards too, although they are not as popular as the others. 

The "Vintage Rose Gyspy" series of Fortune Teller Cards
from my ETSY shoppe.

One day, while I was searching for more images of the "Mystery Message" gypsies, I came across the same vintage images, but in a series of Zodiac Valentine themed gypsy illustrations! I thought it was an interesting combination of ideas and immediately made a series of Valentine Gypsy Fortune Teller Cards with LOVE-themed fortunes! They are very popular for Valentine's parties!

This is a series of vintage Zodiac-Valentine themed gypsies
by the same artist who illustrated the "Mystery Message"
series from the early 1900s

When I get some time I would like to do a bit more research on the artist who produced these illustrations in the early 1900s, and find out HIS or HER inspirations!


The most unique set of cards that I offer, are the Mermaid Fortune Teller Cards. I, of course, adore mermaids, and thought they were the perfect mystical, magical image for a sea-themed fortune teller card. It has turned out to be my most popular set of Fortune Teller cards!

The "Mystic Mermaid" Fortune Teller Card Series from my
ETSY shoppe. Because I love mermaids so much, I am
constantly designing new mermaid card images.

So after finding all these lovely images for the front of the card, then I had the daunting task of writing the fortunes myself, and as it turned out, it was a fun and exciting adventure. I brought out the many vintage fortunes I  have collected over the years and read them all and drew my ideas from them. 

I have a large collection of Fortune Teller Cards
that I have collected throughout the years...
After I  read them over, I imagined what I wanted the my fortunes to sound like and look like, and the rest was easy. When I write the fortunes, I just let the ideas flow from my mind as I write them down. The sea-themed fortunes that are on the Mystic Mermaid series, were the most fun to write, AND the most challenging, because I had to keep to a certain theme. But I had a clear image of a small seaside town on a stormy night with a gypsy caravan on the beach, with a mysterious dark-haired women inside waiting to tell you your future...

The "Mystic Mermaid" series of Fortune Teller Cards found
in my ETSY shoppe, have fortunes with a "seaside" theme.

As I get more and more large orders for 100 or more cards at a time, usually for a wedding or special event,  I have to keep writing more and more fortunes! Most people ask for a different fortune for each card, so I am always thinking of more ideas! But now I have quite a collection of fortunes and usually only write custom fortunes with specific themes! But I love to write them, and try to keep them positive, yet mysterious.


I did this large order of 150 Fortune Teller cards for a wedding.
Each guest got a Fortune Teller Card at their place setting and
I wrote a different fortune for each person! I love to think of
so many people enjoying my cards!
I have even made some very tiny fortunes to put inside the Gypsy Fortune Teller Bottle in my ETSY shoppe. The mini-fortunes do not come with a gypsy image on them, but they are on antiqued
paper, then rolled up and placed inside the bottle. You can take one out anytime you want to know
your fortune! Or set the bottle out and let your guests take one and read their fortunes when they come for a visit.

The "Gypsy Fortune Teller Bottle" in my ETSY shoppe comes
with 25 antiqued mini-fortunes rolled up inside, as well as a
tiny crystal ball and set of antiqued tarot cards (22 major arcana)
hanging around the bottle neck.

Sometimes, I get a request for JUST the mini-fortunes by themselves!
After all, everyone wants to know what lies in their future!

Additional fortunes for the
"Gypsy Fortune Teller Bottle" 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Followers

About Me

My photo
Courtney McNeil began studying painting and illustration in 1985 in London, England. Not one to stay in one place very long she continued perfecting her love of the arts while traveling the world studying painting and illustration in Europe, Hawaii, California, and Australia and eventually graduated cum laude with a BA in illustration and continued on to do her graduate work at the Royal College of Art in London, England.  A few years later she added to her creative interests and studied letterpress and bookmaking at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. After receiving her undergraduate degree she began work at the Getty Museum in Malibu for almost a decade which allowed her to study and work among some of the most famous classic works of art in the world from Vincent Van Gogh to Manet. Teaching in the galleries of the Getty started her career in Art Education. She has been teaching painting and drawing to young artists and adults at the Davis Arts Center since 2006.