By Crysta Coburn
In this column, Crysta Coburn writes about crazywisdom-esque people and happenings around Ann Arbor.
Exploring Art with Megan Weber
“I’m just doing what I do,” said local artist Megan Weber, also known as Zaheroux. And what she does is make dynamic artwork — traditional pieces in graphite, ink, paint, and/or colored pencil, as well as tarot and oracle decks — and she is continually experimenting with colors, forms, and subjects. Megan sells prints of her work at local festivals like Washi Con, an anime and gaming convention at Eastern Michigan University, and the Haunted Garage Sale at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, where my fiancé discovered her. (We have a print of a steampunk crow she created hanging in our home.)
Her work is also available through her Etsy shop, and she loves to see how far out in the world her art sells. “I just had a [tarot] deck go to Singapore,” she told me, clearly delighted. She has also sold items to people in Russia and Australia.
Megan has always been an artist. In elementary school, she drew “lots of tigers; middle school was dragons, and high school more angels and demons.” Nowadays, she incorporates a lot of animal and bone imagery into her art to “bring in the concept of life and death, the beauty of death” for, as Megan points out, “we’re all made of the same stuff: bone.”
Above all Megan loves to share her art, which is part of why her prices are so reasonable. An 8” by 10” full-color print is only $10; her 78-card tarot deck plus companion book is $35; and the 28-card oracle deck and book are $25. “I’m not expecting to get rich off my art. It’s more rewarding for me to see someone go home with it,” she said.
When I asked about her decks, she told me that the tarot deck, named Animalis Os Fortuna, took three months to research and create what she wanted, “something unique.” It is entirely black and white and the themes for the four suits are elemental, birds for air (swords), fish for water (cups), reptiles for fire (wands), and mammals for earth (pentacles). Though tarot has its own general imagery, Megan went with her intuition when choosing what to portray on some of the cards. The Wheel of Fortune, for instance, is an ouroboros — a snake eating its own tail.
As for the oracle deck, Azúcar Bone, the colorful theme comes from the Day of the Dead and its iconic sugar skulls (“azúcar” is Spanish for “sugar”). Megan has Mexican roots, and this was a fun and creative way for her to celebrate her heritage. And she was a little sick of black and white after the lengthy tarot project. “It was great to go back into color,” she said with a smile.
One future project she’d like to tackle is creating her own playing card deck, each card having a unique image. I, for one, (and my fiancé for two) can’t wait! And I will be haunting the Zaheroux Facebook for sneak peeks.
Peruse Megan’s Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/Zaheroux and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArtbyZaheroux/.
In the Kitchen with Jen Gossett
Once upon a time, a little girl and her brother liked to put random ingredients together in baking experiments. I didn’t get to meet the brother, but I did sit down over coffee with the girl, now all grown up and supplying the magic behind Fairytale Baked Goods of Ypsilanti, Michigan, which specializes in “enchanted scones.”
I first met Jen Gossett at the downtown Ypsilanti’s Farmers’ Market, then again at DIYpsi a short time later. As a storyteller, I have always had a warm place in my heart for fairytales, and I found in Jen a spirited fellow admirer.
“When I was a little girl,” she said, “my mom had this huge red and gold fairytale book ... and so every night before we’d go to bed, we’d read a fairytale.” Hidden in the book’s pages were also letters from Jen’s father, who traveled to Japan for business. Jen’s mom would hide the letters in the book so they’d be discovered at bedtime, making the book extra special.
That explains the fairytales. What about the scones? A few years ago, Jen and her mother went to a bed and breakfast in Traverse City where they had scones. Jen thought they were all right, but her mother thought they were terrible and said, “This is why I hate scones!” Seeing this as a challenge, Jen said, “I went home and I tried to make a different kind of a scone, maybe a more moist scone.”
First meeting with Mom’s approval, Jen’s revised scones also started to become popular among other family members, friends, and coworkers. “Eventually,” she continued, “one of my coworkers said, ‘Okay, I need you to get your act together and make a website and make a pricing thing because I want to buy rounds for my friends and family for Christmas.’ So that’s what I did!”
Thinking of a name took some time. Her father suggested Cloud Bakery with the different scones named after types of clouds. Although she loved the idea (“I love clouds!”), she found the concept “a little rough.” One of the scones she was bringing to work was a pumpkin and chocolate chip scone. One day she thought, This could be a Cinderella scone! What if it’s all fairytales? Fairytale Baked Goods!
In addition to the Cinderella, a sweet scone, there are the Wicked Witch (“chunks of wickedly dark chocolate baked inside of chocolate-coffee scones, topped with a fine sugar crust”), the Rose Red (“fresh, tart cranberry and sweet lemon scones topped with a coarse sugar crust”), and so many more. On the savory side, we have Strega Nona (“asiago cheese and Italian herb”), Dragon (“cheddar and roasted jalapeño”), and, perhaps my favorite, Fee-Fi-Fo-FETA (“feta cheese crumbles and dill”), just to name a few. Visit her website for a full list.
If you love scones —or fairytales! — look for Jen at the Ypsi market or order online. If you have requests, she is glad to listen! Oh, and her favorite fairytales? The Princess and the Pea and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. What’s yours?
Fairytale Baked Goods is found online at bakedfairytales.wordpress.com and www.facebook.com/BakedFairytales/.
In the Children’s Corner with Rowan Moss and T. S. Lamb
Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Author Rowan Moss and illustrator T. S. Lamb took this to heart when they created the Pagan Children Learning Series.
Rowan said, “T. S. and I are both Pagan parents ourselves and we experienced, firsthand, the lack of educational Pagan materials for children. We wanted to work together to fill that void and not only help our families, but to help others as well.”
T. S. added, “It was more of a joint epiphany. I think we were both thinking of this sort of project and we were talking about creating some way to help teach our children paganism.”
There are three books so far, Who Is A Witch?, What Is Magic?, and What Are The Elements?, and they have plans to expand the series in the future. “We’re currently searching for a publisher for our next set of three books,” Rowan said. “We’re also more than halfway done with an online course that we are putting together.”
When deciding the topics for their first books, they went with what they “thought would be the most useful to the majority of Pagan parents out there,” using their own needs and experiences as parents, as well as what they had heard from friends, as inspiration. The books may be read together or separately. As Rowan put it, “I know many Pagans who don’t actually practice magic, so they might want to leave What Is Magic? off of their bookshelves. Alternatively, I also know many Pagans who don’t consider themselves to be witches, so they might choose to prioritize a book about the elements instead.” She added, “The books are crafted to encourage discussion between parent and child.”
I asked Rowan if it was difficult to write for children. “Actually, it really was,” she answered. “These are some really complex topics that I was trying to make accessible to children.” She also felt she had set a “near impossible goal.” “I wanted to make these books so open, that the majority of Pagan families could use them and relate to them. I worked really hard to try not to exclude anyone... So, if you feel left out from these books, I apologize, I tried my best and I’m open to suggestions.”
For T. S., “The toughest part is changing the illustrations slightly from book to book to help symbolize the overall concept of the books but still similar enough that all the books would look nice together.” Finding the illustrations unique and beautiful, I asked how she settled on a style. “I wanted something that conveyed the joy of children and some way to symbolize how it feels to be Pagan,” she explained. “Since we were working with such a tough topic, I wanted the art to be beautiful and catch the eye of people who might be uncomfortable with the topics we are covering.
It’s no wonder the reception for these books has been so warm. I don’t have children yet myself, but I do have friends who have bought the books for their families, and we are all fans!
Find Rowan and T.S. online at www.facebook.com/pclsbooks/ or reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Pagan Children Learning Series books are available at Crazy Wisdom and online.