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Fortune Teller

Updated on July 30, 2013

How to bring "Good Fortune" to Halloween or Party decorating!

Decorate your house for that party, fund-raiser, or for Halloween to look like a Fortune Teller's tent or a soothsayer's hideaway.

!!!Mystic Secrets to Decorating with the Stars!!!

Greet your guests with the proper ambiance for fortune telling, whether that's with Tarot cards, palmistry, tea leaf reading, or the crystal ball. Set the mood for the mystic!

Here you will find advice, supplies, and color schemes to create the perfect setting for a party or an everyday mystic.

Fortune Tellers Live on the Go...

The Caravans by Van Gogh, public domain
The Caravans by Van Gogh, public domain

As these Gypsy Wagons by Vincent van Gogh illustrate, many fortune tellers traveled into town - perhaps to work a fair - then traveled on again... Maybe when some customer didn't like what was read in their cards!

Although it'd be fantastic to recreate one of these caravans - and I'll show you some inspirational pictures of them - I'll also show you easier alternatives. For instance...

A tent creates great ambiance for a Halloween or party Fortune Teller too. Why not pitch a tent on your lawn or patio? Or even inside, to create the intimate, secretive, mysterious mood the Seer requires?

A Romany-Style Wagon, click to follow the link to the article.
A Romany-Style Wagon, click to follow the link to the article.

Oh, please! recreate this Romany wagon.

This beautiful wagon is decorated in gorgeous Romany style ("gypsy" is not correct, I understand).

The photo comes from a blog post at Interior Divine about designer Jeanne Bayol - who loves l'esprit tzigane (okay "gypsy" style) and restores old Romany caravans. Follow the picture-link to more great photos.

Notice the wealth of textures and the draped fabric.

Building this yourself - if you're a cabinet-maker level woodworker - is possible. And just imagine how much fun to own!

A "gypsy" caravan photo from tinyhouseblog, click the pic to follow the link
A "gypsy" caravan photo from tinyhouseblog, click the pic to follow the link

Authentic Caravans

at Tiny House Blog

This site (a good site anyway) has terrific inspirational photos of Romany style caravans and wagons.

Quick! Go look.

These caravans are fantastic and I want one desperately!

Unfortunately, it might be a bit, um, ambitious to build one just for Halloween, but you can catch the style in almost any small space. An entry hall might be perfect: you could greet guests, tell fortunes, or hand out candy in a small area by the front door. Use drapes or curtains or folding screens to partition off a Fortune Teller's corner.

Caravan interior, from Tiny House Blog
Caravan interior, from Tiny House Blog

The essence of the Romany style is a compact wooden space (inside a wagon, yes?) with tidy storage compartments. All lavishly decorated with painted detail and strong colors. Often there is a lot of fabric too, though not in this example.

If you love these wagons, here's a real find: people who can build you a brand new one.

Gyspy Vans by Roth

Gorgeous! This website is worth visiting (even if you can't buy one) for the wonderful photos and the great explanation of the different kinds of wagons.

But if you can't quite afford a real gypsy wagon, some of the style could be approximated in any small space - perhaps in a playhouse, garden shed, or a corner of a garage with paint and a few old, weird pieces of furniture slathered with even more paint. Think about it.

Meanwhile, read the next section for an alternate suggestion.

A Fortune Teller's Tent

Any tall-style tent could work. Or you could fake a tent with fabric or bed sheets. But this store-boughten one strikes me as close to perfect for a Fortune Teller's tent. It's light enough to be mobile and easy to erect - just right for a party or special event - but just big enough for two small chairs and a tiny table.

The blue and white stripes could be easily decorated with stick-on stars, moons, and suns. Maybe even glow-in-the-dark ones? Perhaps add silky curtain ties to hold back the tent flaps and add a hint of the Mysterious East.

Perhaps hang rich, dark blue velvet fabric inside to add a little more ambiance? (see below)

For a darker, more mysterious mood, take a little masking tape and black latex paint and color those white stripes black... Then add even more stars!

Mystic Blue Draperies

To line that Fortune Teller's Tent - or to curtain off a corner of a room or to drape the doorway to the Mystic Retreat.

Ikat Fabric By The Yard 54" P Kaufmann Turkestan Indigo Blue
Ikat Fabric By The Yard 54" P Kaufmann Turkestan Indigo Blue

I love this pattern... it feels very Mysterious East to me.

 

Moon, Stars, Runes and Mystic Stuff

Assorted accessories for your Fortune Telling corner.

Wall Hangings, Pillows, and Table Toppers

Add luxurious fabrics and exotic embroidery to your Fortune Teller's retreat.

Gorgeous Mystic Tablecloth

This would be THE most stunning shawl to throw over your Fortune Teller's table. It's wonderful. Spread your Tarot cards out on this with real authority! Or imagine a crystal ball shimmering against this? Breathtaking.

(Or the Fortune Teller could wear it... I would wear this shawl all winter long, even if the table did get first dibs for Halloween.)

Moroccan style room, click to follow the link to Inspiration for the Home Blogspot
Moroccan style room, click to follow the link to Inspiration for the Home Blogspot

Exotic Inspiration

This Moroccan style room might inspire your Fortune Teller's corner. Notice the exotic fabrics, the gleam of brass, and the jewel-like colors. Look to India and the Middle East, look at China and Asia.

You want to create a mood of exoticism, mystery, magical possibility...

(Do you think, in the East, that they decorate to evoke the mysterious West? Could be.)

Starting from Scratch

The Low-Budget Max Impact Fortune Teller Nook

If you have a small room you can devote to housing your Fortune Teller, this is what I as a theater set designer and and architect would suggest:

Paint the room a dark color.

I suggest a dark PURPLE because: purple is reputed to have a good psychic "vibe" (this IS a mystical room, right?) and because it is changeable and interesting under colored light. What's more, I'd paint it purple by scumbling together two other paint colors - a dark royal blue and a raspberry or maroon red. If your walls are just ordinary, I'd use flat latex paint. (Consider low VOC paint, it's less smelly.) If your walls have interesting texture, like brick or wood paneling, an eggshell or low gloss would be fun.

Paint the ceiling dark too.

Cover the floor with dark rug(s). Look for something interestingly ethnic and rich looking. Old Turkish or Persian carpets would be perfect! A scrap of old indoor-outdoor stuff will work. You want the feeling of lushness underfoot and the hush it will add to the room.

Find rich looking hangings or fabric - old velvet curtains or such to add to the walls. Absolutely! drape the doorway with dark, heavy curtains. Maybe even beads. If you like, stick glow-in-the-dark stars etc. on any wall left showing.

Hang the most "gypsy" looking lamp you can find from the ceiling above the table. The easiest way to do this is to put the hanging light on a long extension cord, add a couple ceiling hooks and - presto! - light where you want it. This could be a Turkish lamp you wire up, a store-bought Chinese paper lantern that's already wired, a cheap Home Depot "trouble light" with a paper lantern jammed over it, or your existing chandelier tricked out with Mardigras beads... Keep it fun and easy.

Be sure to add some other dim lighting. With purple walls red and/or blue light would be great. Maybe a string of Christmas lights or candles in colored glass votives. (Beware candle flames and all these draperies.)

The furniture can be almost anything. If the chairs are old-fashioned looking and wooden and you can paint them - do. Add as much faux peasant decoration as you feel like. (Remember it'll be pretty dark in here - so go for it!). If the chairs are not quite right, just drape them with fabric. Drape a small table with one or several table cloths and shawls.

Add a few pieces of set dressing to add to the mood. Add a crystal balll (even if you don't use it) and Tarot cards (ditto). Then, depending on which theme you want, try adding:

For "Gypsy" Fortune Teller - embroidered fabrics; painted and decorated chests and cabinets

For "Witchy" - an old-fashioned broom; bunches of herbs; jars with more herbs or potions; incense; candles; a skull maybe; crystals perhaps

For Sorcerer/ess or Seer - runes; books; skulls (this IS Halloween); celestial globes; anything with stars, moons, etc.; mask;, carved figures; and a stuffed crocodile is standard!

Go to my other Lenses below to learn more about painting a scumbling technique (Fun! Easy!) and for hints on thrifty shopping for fabrics and furniture.

A Modern Version of the Mystic Tablecloth

The "Illusion" table by Essey
The "Illusion" table by Essey

This is the "Illusion" table by Essey available from several online dealers including Allmodern.com (Click on the picture to see it at www.nicespace.me)

Inspirational Books

A couple books to give you a lot of ideas!

Bohemian Style
Bohemian Style

Bohemian is an attitude as much as a style.

 
Gypsy Caravan 1887, public domain
Gypsy Caravan 1887, public domain

Hanging Lamps

We want mystery! And low-watt light bulbs. Or a dimmer. We're going for MOOD lighting here.

Predict the Future

The mystic crystal? Or the occult card?
The mystic crystal? Or the occult card?

Which of these two classic methods of predicting the future most appeals to you? Which way would you choose?

(More information on both methods and others after this Quiz break.)

Which will you read the future with: a Crystal Ball or Tarot Cards?

See results

The Rider-Waite(Smith) Tarot - Use them or decorate with or...

Hey! You're planning on telling fortunes, right?

These are the classics, the most popular set of tarot cards in the English-speaking world: the Rider-Waite Tarot. Spread these out on that blue tablecloth and read the future.

(These SHOULD be named Rider-Waite-Smith to include their illustrator, Pamela Coleman Smith. These illustrations have been hugely influential and imitated.)

The Original Rider Waite Tarot Pack
The Original Rider Waite Tarot Pack

Beautiful and evocative illustrations.

 

Tarot de Marseille

And this is the most popular Tarot deck in the Latin world.

Links to Information on Tarot

Tarot cards have a long complex and (of course!) mysterious past. Read more on the history of Tarot and on using Tarot cards on these sites.

Learn to Read Tarot Cards

There are a LOT of Tarot cards, each with its own meaning, and the combination of cards adds more information, but interpreting all this takes practice, intuition... and a handy book! (At least to start out.)

This video does a good job of easing you into Tarot reading.

Books on Tarot, Palm Reading, and Fortune Telling

Aaaaah! I can read your future... in a book!

Look here for help in seeing the unseen; reading tea leaves, palms, and people; and generally catching up on occult expertise. (Look in the right sidebar for Tarot how-to book.)

The Fortune Teller by Bartelomeo Manfredi (public domain image, edited)

Links on Palm Reading

Here's a few places to get started as a palm reader.

Learn Palmistry

The video gives a nice introduction to palm reading.

(Phew! My palm read okay. What a relief.)

Embroidered Table Cloth

Okay, if you DON'T use the blue Fortune Teller tent, then you can pick the other great Fortune Teller color - RED.

This is another very beautiful tablecloth - a pleasure to read cards on it!

Room Dividers and Screens

Another, easier, way to partition off the Fortune Teller's corner.

Hey! We need a little privacy here!

Red, Ruby, and Rose Colored Draperies

The other mystic color scheme is RED. And curtains are a great way to say it.

Any of these draperies would look wonderfully rich as a backdrop to the Fortune Teller. Imagine one corner of a room with red drapes on both walls - perhaps even separating that nook from the rest of the room for privacy...

The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse

The Crystal Ball, by John William Waterhouse, courtesy of Wikipedia
The Crystal Ball, by John William Waterhouse, courtesy of Wikipedia

Crystal Balls

Tellin' fortunes here! What says Fortune Teller more than a crystal ball?

Links on Crystal Ball Reading

Scrying, they call it. Or crystal gazing. Here are a few sites to explain how.

Why Do I Love Gypsy Caravans? - Because of the book The Wind in the Willows

Mr. Toad's gypsy caravan from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, illustration by Arthur Rackham
Mr. Toad's gypsy caravan from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, illustration by Arthur Rackham

When Mr. Toad ran away from home in his yellow gypsy caravan, I desperately wanted one myself:

"There you are!' cried the Toad, straddling and expanding himself. `There's real life for you, embodied in that little cart. The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing! And mind! this is the very finest cart of its sort that was ever built, without any exception. Come inside and look at the arrangements. Planned 'em all myself, I did!'

The Mole was tremendously interested and excited, and followed him eagerly up the steps and into the interior of the caravan. The Rat only snorted and thrust his hands deep into his pockets, remaining where he was.

It was indeed very compact and comfortable. Little sleeping bunks--a little table that folded up against the wall--a cooking- stove, lockers, bookshelves, a bird-cage with a bird in it; and pots, pans, jugs and kettles of every size and variety.

`All complete!' said the Toad triumphantly, pulling open a locker. `You see--biscuits, potted lobster, sardines--everything you can possibly want. Soda-water here--baccy there--letter- paper, bacon, jam, cards and dominoes--you'll find,' he continued, as they descended the steps again, `you'll find that nothing what ever has been forgotten, when we make our start this afternoon."

The Wind in the Willows - By Kenneth Grahame

One of the best-loved classic children's books... much reread by adults!

Mr. Toad's adventure with the gypsy caravan is only one chapter - one of my favorites. Toad is one of the great comic characters - a rich and foolish amphibian with a short attention span and a craving for speed! He and his friends Mole, Ratty, Mr. Badger have adventures and mishaps and longings... Toad meeting the gypsy, Mole and the picnic basket, Rat and the call of the South, Toad's jail break...

There's a lot of humor, a lovely Christmas chapter that talks about the beauty of Home, and lyrical passages on the beauty (and sometimes the terror) of nature. Beautifully written, in an English Edwardian way. Memorable.

This particular edition (there are many good ones) has my very favorite illustrations, by Arthur Rackham. Gorgeous pen and ink and watercolor illustrations!

Mr. Toad meets the Gypsy, Arthur Rackham illustration, public domain
Mr. Toad meets the Gypsy, Arthur Rackham illustration, public domain
A Halloween Hat Tip!
A Halloween Hat Tip!

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What do you see in the future? - (Besides, of course, that Toad forgot something.)

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    • cdevries profile image
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      cdevries 4 years ago

      @writerkath: Thanks - you're very kind. I do think Fortune Telling makes a good party theme... as long as you take it all lightly. Thanks for visiting.

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 4 years ago

      Your creativity is wonderful! I can see how you are a good fit for design... Excellent idea for a party theme!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @Magda2012: Thanks! Fortune Telling can be fun (as long as you don't take it too seriously). Thanks for visiting.

    • Magda2012 profile image

      Magda2012 4 years ago

      Smart idea for a halloween party!

    • profile image

      Awab-Ahmad 4 years ago

      good i like it.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @donnetted: Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

      How absolutely spectacular.... Everything on this lens just "flows". Superb, thank you so much. Blessed x

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 5 years ago

      Great lens. Simply magnificent, simply magnificent!!!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @KReneeC: Thank you! Thanks for visiting.

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      Such a wonderful lens! Very intriguing!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks! I enjoyed building this one... now I wish I could build the gypsy caravan of my dreams!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a comprehensive lens! Thanks so much for making it.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @MillBucks: Thank you! And thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Great lens, well done! Squidlike

    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 5 years ago

      You did a very nice job on this lens, nice layout and your content is superb. Congrats on your Purple Star, well deserved.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very interesting article. Thank you for all the work you have put into this lens. Nicely crafted!

    • floppypoppygift1 profile image

      floppypoppygift1 5 years ago

      Very timely & awesome lens to boot! Woot woot!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @Redneck Lady Luck: It IS fascinating... but also a little uncanny. I've had a few readings a little too accurate for comfort!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Gypsy and gypsy fortune telling will always be wonderfully mysterious. They are just something that has a tendency to fascinate me. Both my daughter and I tell tarot cards and my brother as well as his friends will phone from his community to have me read theirs via the telephone.

    • Oneshotvariety LM profile image

      Oneshotvariety LM 5 years ago

      What a great lens! Well done!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @dahlia369: Thanks so much! I love those gypsy caravans.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      I love, love, love your ideas, presented on this lens and very much enjoyed the images, especially the insides of those carriages. Beautifully done! :)

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @sukkran trichy: Thank you! And thanks for visiting.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      very interesting read on fortune telling. blessing this beautifully crafted lens.

    • profile image

      baby-strollers 5 years ago

      Pretty tough existence!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      What a great idea! Love your lens! Blessing it!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 6 years ago

      @ZenandChic: Thank you! And thanks for visiting.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 6 years ago

      @Yawapi LM: I've wanted one ever since Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows got one.

    • Yawapi LM profile image

      Yawapi LM 6 years ago

      What an interesting and unique lens! I am with you on wanting a Romani caravan - and the Waterhouse painting is one of my favorites!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 6 years ago

      @RhondaAlbom: Thanks! I loved that table too. Thank you for the visit and blessing.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

      What a fun lens. I love all the old items, but funny thing my favorite photo on the page was the modern Mystic Tablecloth. Blessed.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I really like this theme. It is always fun to try out a fortune teller.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 6 years ago

      @HealthfulMD: I love Waterhouse too. The only kind I've tried is Tarot, which is fascinating... and a little unsettling.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 6 years ago from Northern California

      Well done. Love John William Waterhouse anyway, so I was drawn into visit the lens from the image. Makes me want to learn more about being a fortune teller.