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My first ever tattoo!

For many years I've thought about getting a tattoo done. Probably since just after Erik was born. Something to mark his coming into my life, transformation etc. Two things have stopped me.

  1. I have an irrational phobia of needles.
  2. Tattoo parlours look like scary dens of evil with all those biker types and drug addicts and, you know, really scary people.
Then about 18 months ago my brother got an apprenticeship to work in a tattoo parlour. Michael is a talent artist who hadn't found a way to unite his artistic talent and pre-occupation with earning enough income to sustain himself. Then one day someone suggested maybe he could do art in a tattoo parlour and sent him along to try out for an apprenticeship.

Some months later he came for a visit and showed us what he'd done on his own arms and legs and I was quite impressed. He said he could do tattooing on me if I wanted something done, and the thought of not having to step into a parlour and feel intimidated was really appealing.

There was still the issue of the great long needle and the pain of getting a tattoo, but he told me that many people used Emla gel to numb the skin before getting tattoos done. I'd heard this was maybe not a good idea, but he seemed to feel it didn't make any difference to the outcome for anyone he'd seen use it at his workplace.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to get a tattoo done. I showed him a very simple symbol I wanted and then we discussed other tattoos I wanted down the track to tie in with this first one. We had a couple of false starts with him forgetting a transformer the first time he came over to do the tattoo, and then being sick the second time we planned to do it, but today everything came together and it finally happened!

My friend Jayne came to have a looksee and took some pictures of the process for me...

I'm not nervous! Much!!!

The two emla patches I had in place for an hour before we got started.

Transferring the trace of the symbol...

Ooops, backwards...

After a quick re-sketch, try, try again!


And the process begins! See the sleeve tattoos on Mike's arms? He did those himself!

First layer of outline nearly done. The blackness around the design isn't bruising, it's ink that has been wiped away. This part of the tattooing process didn't hurt at all, it was like someone holding a vibrating phone on my skin.

Lovely photo there, Jayne! Thanks! The emla was starting to wear off a bit because we'd had to stop mid-way to set up a lamp as we were quickly losing light from outside, it still didn't hurt, felt a bit like clippers lightly scraping the skin as I had a buzz cut (have done that twice, so know what that feels like).

Outline has now been done twice to make it dark and thick so it won't fade or break up...

And the colouring in begins. This I felt a bit more, partly because the emla was wearing off and partly because the grade of the needle was bigger to allow more ink to be injected faster. Still didn't hurt a lot, a bit like lightly scratching sunburnt skin.

Nearly done! That last top bit tickled a bit, actually and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up so I had to resist laughing because that would make it harder for Mike to get a nice clean finish!

All done! Took 30 minutes all up. The emla was fantastic, but even when it wore off, the pain wasn't bad at all! Mike tells me this was also because he didn't apply much pressure. This means the tattoo might fade a little faster (but I'm lucky because he can just touch it up for me if that happens), but he feels that sometimes going too deep into the skin can make a tattoo blurry and with a small and simple design like this, he didn't want to take that risk. Also, I'm his sister and he wanted to be gentle - awww!

A little closer up! This symbol is a nepalese numeral 1, and symbolises "Unity of all things". It's often seen in paintings of Buddha Eyes, or Wisdom Eyes (also known as Peace Eyes) on Tibetan temples. I love the concept of Unity of All Things - this underpins my life philosophy and faith. Also, though, I love that it also looks a bit like a question mark, which for me personally symbolises my never-ending questioning of all things, my constant search for knowledge...


katef said…
way cool! Great choice of symbol too
Wow, that is fantastic! Im getting my first tattoo in 8 weeks :)
May I ask where you get Emla from? Is it something you buy from the chemist?
Sif said…
Yes, from the chemist. It's expensive, but definitely worth it - I was lucky and got mine half price due to it being nearly out of date...
Thanks for that, I ll have to suss out some prices.:)

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