Sunday, December 20, 2009

Up Early

Decided to catch up on 'scapes and The Flyaways this morning, both of which I have been neglecting. I visited TLC two weeks ago. I really needed a tattoo fix and it felt like home to be back at school. I met Crispus, who Lisa is sponsoring so he can go back home to Uganda and begin a business there. I also picked up three more t-shirts; a gorilla for MJ, and two TLCs(another for myself). Talked with Matt about doing my rose in January. He will be going to Am-Jam in Syracuse and I'd love to go there. They have found a location for their second school in San Diego and a former student to operate it. I hope I can visit there someday.

Not much tattooing going on around here. I ordered new business cards, as the pink ones are not quite appropriate for TATTOOing, but they have not yet arrived. Subscribed to Tattoo Revue, also not yet appeared. Keeping up with Maria (salsa dancing in Florida), Mia (doing cosmetics in D.C.) and John in his own shop(!)through FB. Don't hear much from Michael Colon or anything about Sandy/Chico. Lisa dropped off the new shop video about machine tuning which I will be watching this afternoon, probably during the Christmas wrapping.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My own

After I worked on Josh, I wanted to keep going, so I asked J to stretch my arm while I tattooed myself. It didn't work out too well and I ended up just doing it myself. I filled in and went over some of the green leaves and then added more purple hearts, little ones, so I have 3 orange hearts for my kids and now 8 purple ones for the grandchildren. I love it. It is colorful and looks more linked than it did before. Now thinking of other stuff to add.

Josh's Brothers

Saturday, November 28, 2009

After T-day

Baby Josh is coming tomorrow for his tattoo. I'm ready to go. I've been reading tattoo books about history, choosing, meaning, etc. and exploring websites. Also ready to work on myself a little as soon as I get two more hands.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

No tattoo

I got my new rotary machine this week, but haven't used it yet. It is red and matches my box. Baby Josh showed me the drawing he wants on his shoulder. It is a beautiful tree. The weekend went by with no tattooing and I miss it. Reading a great book called Ink.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Boob Shot

Okay, first boob today. My daughter had a tat she had gotten in high school (I didn't know at the time, ha) that was pretty washed out. So we brightened it up and enlarged it. She is very happy. I, Ms. Self-critical, is finding flaws in it. Good thing she lives here, so I can work on it more when it heals. I'm learning, I'm learning. I'm posting it small so you can't see my colors aren't too solid

I gotta tell ya, I love this. It feels good to have the machine in my hand, to choose colors, even to do the set up. I just want to be more skillful, faster.
Doing a little touch up work on Zach tomorrow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

for Arthur

I am awed by my grandson. Zachary was the first tattoo at home today. He had me put a rope tie draped over his shoulder with an arrowhead clasp on his bicep - a bolo tie for my father. My dad died two years ago on Halloween. He was a wonderful man and I adored him, but I am a little overwhelmed with the fact that he meant so much to his great grandson. Zachary seems happy with the tattoo. I am as usual critical of myself, but happy that he is happy. He rushed off to show Travis, who approved.

Next I worked on my own arm a little, filling in a couple of more leaves. It is surprisingly easy to work on yourself and I may find myself doing more.

It was satisfying to lay out the materials and get to know them. Everything is set up pretty efficiently and I'm good to go. Small problem with the machine cutting out. Can't figure out why.

I ordered and rec'd the correct number of needles. And the spirit masters. Duh. And the sharps container I forgot the first time. Tech Guy helped put them away.
Lauren found a new butterfly so I can do a coverup on her old one. The list is growing.

Zach wondered what my dad would think of the tattoo thing. I must admit, I'm not sure. He always supported everything I did, tho, so, maybe. (We all know what my mother would say.) I love you, Zach. You, too, Dad.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Damn the Health Department

I called today and was told that I cannot get a tattoo artist permit without being "affiliated" with a shop. What the heck?

My stuff arrived finally on Wed. night at 6 p.m. T-rex, the Tech Assistant, eagerly tore open the boxes and packages, arranged the ink, filled the cabinet drawers per my instructions, and was ready for me to start tattooing. His father also stopped in and asked the same question. Would I be ready to tattoo him this weekend? Answer is no. I want to practice up. Sounds like he wants a whole sleeve and I need to start out on smaller pieces. And, now, I have to straighten out the AlCo permit thing. I'll have to ask Lisa.

My power source is a lovely red. I goofed up the needle order and had to send for more. Finally found the spirit masters, right where Lisa said they were. That should all be here on Friday.

Had dinner with Tom tonight. He is very interested in what I'm doing and I appreciate that. He is a good friend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The UPS man did not leave my stuff today because I was not here to sign for it. I had seen him at work yesterday and told him I was at the library. He is there every day. The dummy. Tomorrow I'm waiting at home for him. He's supposed to be here early.

Per Lisa's suggestion, I am finding it no problem to perform at least one tattoo operation every day. My list of potential victims is growing. My first is going to be myself. I need more leaves on my arm. We'll see how that goes.

T-rex, my new Tattoo Tech, helped me lug in and scrub up the white chest for supplies. He also unpacked the scanner. Tomorrow he is anxious to unpack the UPS delivery and put stuff in the drawers.

I found tons of flash sites and free fonts on the web. Heard from Maria in Michigan a couple of times. No response from the guys. Linda Hladun was in the lib yesterday and we talked about Matt doing her baby portrait.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spending money

The credit card is sizzling. Ordered ink, disposable tubes w/needles, gloves, green soap, power, clip, pedal (a round one) from Unimax. Ordered one rotary machine from Virtual Village to try it out. Got the scanner, etc. yesterday. Now for the dollar store for the odds and ends. Gosh, I'm frightened. Must tell the kids no Christmas this year. Took myself out to breakfast and ran into Dave Raynsford, who was more than happy to chat about Elf Project and show me his tattoos. Eli and I went to the park, then to Heather's where Jack pulled the Snowy Owl trick. I told H. she must design her own tattoo. She has some fantastic white/silver roses on wine glasses. I wish someone would invent a lasting white. Once again the day has gone by without housework. I need help.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I dreamed last night that I murdered some strange old man with a pair of scissors. God knows where that came from.

When I got home last night I re-read the whole TLC website, looked at everyone's tattoos. Found my mistakes and want to go back and fix them. The butterfly needs a little more black on the right bottom. The Screamer needs more purple, but that's understandable. I'd certainly never touch her again. I found I really like the devil's head with the flames I did the first week. I'd suggest some shading, some color in the drawing the Fainter came in with. There's a little mistake (I missed the orange under the robin's wing) in the wedding piece. Like the tree but could have done the coils more delicately. The minister's Kathy has a clunky A. Would like to dude up the old eyeball. The cover up on Jim worked okay but still hate the subject.

Would also like to fix up my own leaves a little bit. Maybe I'll try it when I get my supplies, which I will work on ordering tomorrow. Need to bathe Eli today. His ears are all oily from the medication. The house is a wreck from two weeks of neglect. And, I want to start drawing, subscribe to a couple of mags. Then, finish The Last Child and psych myself up to become a library person again.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Last day of school. I overslept. Badly. No time for coffee. Or pills. Or shower. Or dog walking. Barely time to be clothed.
We had a motivational speaker - Lisa, giving us the Final Pep Talk before giving us our "diplomas". I will probably have to call her for another injection of pep when I get complacent. Matt arrived in disguise, complete with glowing cigarette and gorgeous hair. Michael and John were anxious to get to work (on each other). Sandy had a new baby picture. We women were ready to buckle down and work. I had fun putting Diane's wedding date on her back with two flaming hearts and a robin. Maria put a duplicate on her partner's back. Sweet Maria carefully compared our colors to make sure we worked alike. I never thought of it.

Lunch was very good pizza and a root beer. Not many afternoon tattoos. Did a final clean up; I perfected the foot floor mop. John put the leaves that I had drawn on my hearts. I complimented John on his talent, his business acumen and his skills.

Everyone has done such a wonderful job. Sandy got his fingers tattooed with Love Life. John got mucho revenge on Michael with a excruciating piece on his neck - Lady Liberty and the Twin Towers. Michael was dying while the rest of us were kind of chuckling over his moans and groans, but only because he seems so determined to cover his whole self with ink, all black, of course, no color.

Maria's dad drove ten hours from Michigan to pick her up. She was the first to leave, reluctantly, shedding a few tears, for the ride home. John is driving to Ohio in the morning. Michael and Sandy are being picked up and Maria will be on a ten o'clock train. I am so glad to have gotten to know all of them, all special in their own unique way. I think we all loved it and nobody made me feel like the little old lady.

I can't believe it's over. I had so much friggin' fun. If I never do another tattoo, it was worth it just to go to tattoo school. I feel like a different woman than I was two weeks ago. I started out a 62-year-old poetry-writing grandmother who works in a library and I entered a whole new world. Goodbye, Jeff, and all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

John is going to sing

Lauren came to the studio with me today and we put Eeyore on her leg. He looks like he has had a few because I goofed his eye up. Sorry, Laur. I felt awful. Not a great testimonial for the day before "graduation". The rest of him turned out good. She was entertained by meeting the tattoo crew. Michael and John were at it again, with John the victim. See picture.
Michael took his turn being tortured again with a koi on his hand. I suggested he stick his poor hands into the freezer for a few minutes. They have been taking a beating the last two days. The best news is that John is going to rip off his shirt tomorrow and sing us a chorus of How Great Thou Art, his and my favorite hymn.
Zach and Gabby stopped over, but it was pretty mobbed and they didn't stay long. We did find a good arrowhead which I will make into a bolo for him.
I drove L home at lunchtime and came back to do a really ugly piece that looked like a bad chunk of the Sistine Chapel on a guy named Jim. I'm not even posting the photo.
At ten to five, Mia whipped out the Chinese character for beauty on Maria's ankle. She will do one for me tomorrow. I will call Matt to have him put that orangy rose on my calf. I would like someone to dude up a few leaves on my arm if we have time.
I am having some thoughts about approaching a hair salon to rent me some space in the spring. Just a small spot I could drop in and out of, work by appointment. Here in V'ville would be nice, maybe a couple of days or nights a week, depending on how the winter goes. I'll get busy this weekend and start ordering supplies.
I cannot believe tomorrow is the end.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Mornings are Diamonds....

It was a diamond morning. I was feeling it. Great client. Married 25 years, getting his wife's name and boys initials on his calf. I was rushing because he told me he was off to the World Series game in the afternoon with his kids. Worked well -my lines were steady, my colors filled in well, and I got a hefty tip. Then the revelation that Tom was the Rev. Mr. Thomas Gregg of the West Charlton Presbyterian Church. We both had a chuckle over that. I went to Wendy's for lunch and came back ready to tackle anything.

Well, what I got was anything but what I wanted. Seemed like a nice polite soft spoken lady who wanted a lower back piece in black and purple. We prepped her up, got a good position and with the first swipe of the liner, she started groaning. Then moaning. Then whimpering. Gasping. Twitching. Swearing. My lines started tracking maps all around her design. I didn't really lose it until he husband came over to watch. With him hovering behind me, I started to sweat and bite my lip. Matt came by and I rolled my eyes and stared hard at him so he'd get the idea that I was in big trouble. I knew this was going to be a two hour tattoo which could easily turn into four hours or a total breakdown by the tattooist. Dear Matt whipped off the tribal section and left me with the color work. By the time I was done she was screaming in her husband's arms for me to stop. The whole shop was watching. It sounded like sex. By the time I was done, I was trying to hurt her.

Lisa talked publicity this morning. Lots of good idea, recommended a good book, Guerilla Publicity, that I will get. Need new business cards. Saw some great samples.

See Chico's Kiss below.

The Kiss, The Kiss

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pain and Ambience

John and Michael were plotting today, resulting in an application of SELF MADE to Michael's fingers. Oooh, hurt. We've been coin tossing for designs. I beat out Maria for a great tree, which took me four hours to finish. A nice woman named Lee talked about her husband problems
while I was putting it on her calf. It looked good on her, I was happy, but photograph shows up the flaws. I could have worked longer touching it up. All those coils were confusing, (Lisa helped) but my magnum work is getting better and I found I like using the 3 liner. I would rather be delicate and having to widen lines than make mistakes with fat lines. Here it is:

We have taken the prize for the quietest class Lisa has ever had. Everyone is so pleasant and funny, and, yes, quiet. Maria tells me they went to the SUNY art gallery over the weekend. No bowling. I took a picture of Michael's kiss, but didn't get Chico's yet.

Matt talked about shop ambience this morn. I am envisioning mine. Sunny. It must be sunny. Female friendly. Plants and paintings. Lots of color. I wouldn't be comfortable in any of the existing shops I know of. And, I don't ever want to work for someone else. After 62 years of practice, I like making my own rules. I don't have money to redo this house to meet the health department regs, so I am puzzling what the best step would be. There is just no room here, even for supplies. After school is over, I must be able to keep in practice.

I am enjoying conversations at school. Fodder for a book.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ah, the weekend

...was not nearly long enough to do all the things that I had planned. It didn't help that I was dreaming about tattooing. Waking or sleeping, it was on my mind. Spent most of Saturday on this blog, then crammed laundry, groceries, and eating into Sunday. Didn't even take time to read the newspapers. Or bathe Eli who hides under the bed everytime I run the water in the sink. Feel worst about not working on all the drawings I have going on in my head. I think I could make great flash and I want to give it a try. Stayed up for Brothers & Sisters last night, then finished my Michael Connelly book, hated to waste time sleeping.

Cold, sunny Monday morning, coffee at Stewart's, then straight on to Neverland. The Lost Boys, Chico and Michael, arrived with wonderful kisses on their throats. Matt had done a gorgeous color portrait on John's leg. Mia found a fantastic red and black piece she wants Lisa to do on her. Said she got to go to Crossgates, and some of them tangled with a nasty waitress at the local pub over the weekend. Oh, yeah, Sandy had taken his cornrows out, banded his hair back like a hydrangea bush on the back of his head. I loved it - he has a huge amount of hair.

That reminds me, a very cute blonde came in today with pink hair extensions, also cute. Michael grabbed her up and fixed up the shamrocks behind her ear. Michael has been grabbing every piece that he can. The boy is a tattoo maniac. And he is good. He did a couple of repairs today that were excellent. And - he got to do a boob. Maria wasn't feeling well and left early. The rest of us got more boring stuff. I started out lousing up my first piece with ugly fat lines, but I recovered as I warmed up and by the afternoon, voila! My masterpiece!

I am so happy with this. 99% my own. Good lines, good color. Feeling much better.

Got all my weekend questions answered when Matt went over the machine details. And some interesting insights on pain from Lisa. Some people like it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Woke up this morn, planning on rainy day in bed with Eli and Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, but got snagged by the computer. Now almost 5 p.m. and I have worked on my 'scapes blog all day. No laundry, no groceries, no clean bathroom, but I am a happy blogger and ready to send the link out to the world.

Marshall's arm, Matt saved me again

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Friday, glorious Friday

Although Friday on the chart is a smiley day, it is only because the week is over. I am not much more optimistic than I was yesterday. There are things I don't like about this, the main one is having to work with these stupid, ugly pictures. The second is, I totally hate hurting people. And third, the techniques are tricky and I remain an incompetent tattooer. I have always disliked not doing things well and have usually picked things up quickly. Not happening here.

Thank God for Matt. When I started my second tattoo it was going for 3 p.m. and I would have been there until 10 if he hadn't stepped in and cleaned me up when I wiped away half my pattern with the green soap. It was a fairly decent skull tat with flames which would allow me to work with the magnum (blending needles). The face however was complicated and that's the portion I obliterated. Basically, I ended up doing part of the outline and the flames. I'll include it here so you can see that it turned out okay (see above). Marshall was an older guy, quiet and patient.

I put a funny little spiked turtle on Ben in the morning. Benny is a regular, who turned out to be a real help to me. He could tell me when I had the needle at the right depth and pressure and speed. I am learning how to gauge my work by the sound of the machine (btw, never embarrass Lisa by calling it a gun - pros use "machines"). Tried out the rotary machine and the magnum.

I managed to stop at the Dunkin' this a.m. and got good coffee and brought donuts to school. Dropping off and picking up Lauren is getting bothersome and tonight Tristan asked me to drive him to Teen Night at the high school, so it was a long day. Tom called right at 5 o'clock so while I was waiting (thanks to Matt) for the others to finish up I caught up on his life story. Not a good week with Tara. No, I did not make it to poetry last night and didn't miss it. The library and the literary world are eons out of my sphere right now. I need this weekend to work on this blog, laundry, groceries, Eli time and reading. I have a monster stack of books I have not looked at.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thank you, God, for root beer

Okay, I hate this. Forget what I said about liking it. I hate it. I can't do anything right. Matt had to bail me out on two tattoos today. My lines, the most important part, were too wobbly, not smooth. I am leaving light spots in my shading. I hate hurting people. It was 70 degrees outside and I had to get my doo-rag out to keep the sweat from dripping in my eyes. I am definitely too old for this.

Also, people are annoying me. Already. Jen who wanted butterflies on her foot: "It's awful hot in here, isn't it? Whew, let me take this shirt off. I gotta stand up fer a minute. This is bad. This really really hurts. This stool hurts my butt, too. Don'cha have cushions for these stools? This stool really hurts my butt. Oooh, ouch, close to the bone there. God, this hurts. If I had known how much this was going to hurt...." Well, duh.

Even worse, there was Nick: "That's okay, hon, I don't care if you hurt me. Don't you worry about hurting me. Do you see that white spot? I think I see a tiny white spot there. You'll have to go back over that spot near the line. Anytime you wanna stop, hon, I wouldn't mind a cigarette break. Don't worry, you're doing a great job, Barb." Hon? Hon? I probably had my first grandchild before he was born. I wanted to smack him. And I wanted a cigarette break, too. Nick took my business card. Please don't call me, Nick.

Lisa dragged out the chart to show us that Thursdays are not smiley face days. Next week: all smiles. Yeah.

Fell asleep on a wet head last night for quite a hair disaster this morning. $170 vet visit for Eli before I even went to work. I wanted to stab Jen's foot into the stool and duct tape Nick's mouth shut. Peanut butter and jelly in the car for lunch. Everyone there had problems. Work went very slowly, didn't leave until 5:30, then had to go back out to pick up Lauren at work. Drove aimlessly around Atria, washed two days' dishes, ate Stouffer's mac and cheese. Should have gone to bed early but here I am, watching a repeat of Barack on Letterman.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trouble in Tattoo City

I had my first fainter today. And I'm not even going to describe the hideous eyeball I had to put flames around this morning. As for the fainting, it doesn't seem fair. I am the grandmother. I should be calming, comforting, motherly. But, no, I got a virgin victim for my third piece. A burly young blond guy named Peter with his pregnant GF, who brought his own drawing of a skull. Not my ideal, but not a bad drawing. Unfortunately, young Pete didn't last five minutes into the lining before breaking into a sweat and losing color in his face. At Matt's suggestion he took a break and headed outside. He hit the ground as soon as he hit the fresh air. Fortunately, the pregnant GF was there to help him up. I was thinking about starting a pool on whether or not he'd be back when he stumbled in and sat back down. I asked him to promise not to throw up on me and he manned up and finished without more than a whimper. Good for you, Pete.

Tristan loves the skull tattoo. He was very impressed when he saw my photo of it. I told him that he can't be tattooed until he's 18, so he wanted to know if there was a law about him being the tattooer; I could teach him and he'd open his own shop. Tomorrow we're supposed to get our own machines. T-rex will be very impressed, I'm sure.

Brainless Tim called in the middle of everything to see if I was going to poetry tomorrow night. Of course I didn't answer the call. Poetry is in a different universe than where I am right now. The only constant is how annoying Tim can be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Frog Day

His name was Gary and he has a big orange Buddha on his big pinkish belly. There is not much free space left on his considerable body, but he was a friendly soul. After assuring me that he was wearing shorts, he eagerly dropped his pants to show me his leg tats. I think he meant that they were boxers, not shorts, 'cause they were pretty colorful, but I didn't look too closely. I did look closely at a portrait of Willie Nelson that Gary was warming under his right armpit. It was truly wonderful and done by our very own Matt. I forgot to tell you about Matt, who is the other instructor. He is cute as a bug and reminds me of my nephew Shawn. He is also an amazing artist.

The tattooing part is more complicated than I anticipated. Lisa and Matt share the teaching. and they are both great. The sterilization and disinfecting procedures are very strict. Those old air borne/blood borne pathogens are deadly. It takes a while to set up and clean up. Mennon deodorant, shaving, green soap. Setting the machines with the correct needles. I'll have to get faster. And remember, NEVER to leave my cubicle with dirty gloves. Anyway, after a morning of class and lunch at Wendy's again, we all got our first victim. My victim Gary, for some strange reason, wanted to add a hideous little green frog to the melee already crowding his arms. It was a little scary to start, but Gary was very good natured. I'm gonna have a hard time hurting people. That was a really stupid frog picture. I included the finished product in the collage at the bottom of this page.

I'm thrilled. If someone gets good at this, they can make a ton of money. Lisa will post all our work every afternoon. Google Tattoo Learning Center to see pictures of all of us and our tattoos. In the group photo, I am hiding behind the tall guy with the corn rows. That's Sandy, who can't possibly be really named Sandy, but I haven't had a chance to ask him why he has that implausible name.

Checked out Jody Bergsma and others online tonight. I like many of Bergsma's drawings, but, boy, there is a ton of bad flash out there.

I think I really like this.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A little nervous, but not bad

There is something about starting school that makes you feel like a seventh grader no matter how old you are, and it has been a damn long time since I was a seventh grader. But, I still worried about being late and what to wear and having nobody talk to me because I'm old enough to be everybody's grandmother. At least I didn't have to memorize a locker combination.

The day started out with a frosty windshield and not enough coffee, but only about twelve miles of back roads and little traffic was a bonus. The big purple 1301 sign made the Tattoo Learning Center easy to spot and it had lots of parking. In fact, I was the first one there except for Jeff, a laid back guy who plays the rugged biker receptionist and jack-of-all-trades.

Lisa, in charge of all things tattoo and business, collected kids at the house in her big yellow truck: John, Michael, Sandy, Mia and Maria. We have a Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Yonkers and a Joisey. And me. Nobody looked at me strangely. I was dressed okay in black and jeans. (Black is always reliable.) We sat in our assigned cubicles, did our paperwork, and received our big white binders full of info. I am sitting between Mia and Michael. Mia is beautiful, the other older student (in her late 40's, I'm guessing, because she has a 25-year-old son). Michael on the other hand is a ripe old nineteen and has already tattooed his own arms very successfully without instruction. John and Sandy are in their twenties, John a solid-looking marketing man who seems to have done lots of research on tattooing. Sandy is a tall, thin new daddy with a baby named Samantha in New Jersey and a head full of cornrows. Maria, who has her hair cropped like my Amy's, at nineteen has already run her own coffeeshop for three years. Maria and Sandy and Michael are very quiet, but they all have beautiful smiles.

This leaves me to be the talkative one, which is okay because I already know and love Lisa and don't mind asking questions, of which I will have many. The pattern of the day is set up for nine o'clock arrival, screwing around until 9:30, then morning instruction (all day on Monday) and then lunch and real tattooing until 5 or, as it turns out, whenever we get done. The first two days TLC buys lunch at Wendy's, then we are on our own, as we won't all have the same schedule, depending on how the tattooing goes.

Monday was pretty much of a brain cram. Oh, yeah, we all got TLC t-shirts. Black, of course.