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The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie
The Kitchen Tarot
A 22 card deck by Susan Shie
The Ace of Pentacles from the Rider-Waits Tarot Deck
Ace of Pentacles (Coins) card
from the Rider-Waits tarot deck



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More quilts by Susan Shie

Susan Shie on the making and meaning of Salt of the Earth:

This is a very festive piece! Its making represents a watershed in my Kitchen Tarot series. Having worked on the 22 Major Arcana card quilts for 11 years, now I began making the 56 Minor Arcana pieces. Yes, there are 78 cards in a full tarot deck, and yes, I did think about stopping at the epic end of the 22 major cards! But since I work faster now that I don’t do so much hand sewing and embellishing, AND since I’ve frankly become very attached to my Kitchen Tarot work, I decided to go ahead into this 56 piece commitment. I figured out that if I make wide pieces, I can put Obama or other political figures off to the side, which I can crop out later, if I want a deck that’s apolitical. The tiny writing I do that includes political commentary won’t show up in hand-held tarot cards, so I can continue to add my cultural musings to my diary work.

I next had to decide where to jump into the minor cards at. My suits of potholders for coins, pyrex measuring cups for cups, paring knives for swords, and wooden spoons for wands were already figured out, so it was just a matter of which card and of which suit to start with. I decided on aces, and of the suits, to use my favorite suit: potholders/coins, which is the earth suit. Aces are gifts, and potholders/coins are material things, the physical things in life that nurture us and allow us to keep on living. They are the basic needs in life that sustain us. So I gave my piece the name Salt of the Earth, because the Ace of Coins is a gift of the basic needs in life. And in my own little mind, the Salt of the Earth that we so need right now is Barack Obama, who will bring our world back to the balance of finding ways of providing a dignified basic lifestyle to us all. Looking back from now, when we’re in such a mess with our economy, to just a few months ago, when I started this piece, now I really, really feel blessed, that he’s the one heading the country, because we need to push away from the rich-focused administration we had, and move to helping ALL the people all of the time!

I put the Statue of Liberty into the center of the piece and planned ahead to make that part of the painting be what I’ll eventually crop down to, to make the physical tarot card. Barack Obama, wearing his Power to the People suit jacket, is holding a pie (my symbol of gifts) with the torch of the Statue of Liberty coming up out of the pie. He’s bringing freedom back to us. Jimmy’s on the other side, getting ready to gently release one of the fish he catches. I think I’m Liberty in the middle, actually. She’s holding an accordion, as when I made this, the election hadn’t happened yet, and I was affirming that we’d be celebrating Obama’s election, come the night of Nov 4!

The two volcanoes beside the statue are the turmoil that was happening with the presidential race at that time, in late October. The palm tree is both for Peace and for Obama’s home state of Hawaii. The water along the bottom is the “sea to shining sea” of America, and Liberty is standing on a giant pie island in the middle of the sea. A turtle potholder, as the Ace and standing for Turtle Moon Studios, is on Liberty’s dress. It’s Turtle Island, the native name for North America. The book between Jimmy and Liberty is her book, which she’s not able to hold, while she plays that celebration tune! The owls stand for wisdom, of course, taking the road back to having a statesman as president. And of course, once again, they’re our patio owl lights that we turn on every night of the year, to remind us to have a good time in life!

I began the actual diary writing on October 27 and ended it on November 30, well past the election, so there’s the buildup, the election, and the aftermath of it all in that writing. Some of the diary highlights are: Colin Powell has endorsed Obama; some of the swing states are polling for Obama, and even a few of the red states; O visits his granny, who’s very sick, in Hawaii; we vote on Oct 22; I take care of Eva for four days in late Oct, just like when I was her nanny; Bud Miller and Obama’s grandmother both pass away on Nov 3; Gretchen chants “Obama” as she has to drive past a Palin rally next to Eva’s school; we get our garage flat roof replaced; voting lines are up to 8 hours long in the pre-election voting, and many complaints about voting injustices are filed; I canvas for Obama with Mady Noble on Nov 2; Election Day, Nov 4, we’re so afraid they’ll cheat and Obama will therefore lose; Bud’s funeral and wake, Nov 5. Bud had voted early, and for Obama.

Nov 9: I go teach at Art Quilt Tahoe; I start to read “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” which G lent me; rumors that Hillary will be Sec of State; I write the whole letter O wrote to the people of Illinois, when he resigns his senate seat; O picks Eric Holder for Attn. Gen. Nov 19: Begich wins Alaska senate seat, over Stevens; Daschle picked for Sec of Health and Human Services; McCain finally wins Missouri, which had been too close to call for weeks; it’s Denny Fairchild’s birthday. My pal Birdie becomes a US citizen, early enough to vote for O! Nov 21. Jimmy gets new tires; Geithner picked for Treasury; an elementary school in NY is renamed after Obama; Ohio unemployment is 7.3%, Nat. ave is 6.5. Nov 22: We go to the Fiesta Ware factory and meet Shawn Q there and his friends and see the world’s largest teapot; Obama’s books are back on best seller lists! Obama kinda looks like Bob Marley. Needs dreads! Nov 24. Cousin Margo and I go to Hollo’s paper store. Nov 30: terrorism in Mumbai, India; Jimmy’s been sick since before T Day, but we went up to GEM’s place for Thanksgiving anyhow; Rabbit Hash, KY, where Jane Burch Cochran lives, had its mayoral election again. Dogs!

There’s a lot more topics, and each one was very much elaborated, in my writing on the piece. But even if you don’t want to read any of it, as usual, you can just see the tiny writing following the forms, as texture all over the painting.

So it worked out: Obama really did win and therefore he WILL bring the flame of the torch of freedom back to Liberty, just like he’s doing in the picture. I like this piece a lot. :)


Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

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Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

Bottom left and right: Toward Barred Island (detail) by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade