The feline project, Tattoo Sessions #2 - #6, December, 2001/January, 2002

Yeah yeah yeah. So I skipped a few tattoo sessions. I got sort of busy, my roommate was out of town so I didn't have a photographer...and besides, how much can I really blab about each and every session?

Here's the summary:

Session #2: Filled the "tail" from the ankle, around the calf, up to mid-shin
Session #3: Filled remainder of lower leg, back of knee, portions of lower thigh
Session #4: Filled remainder of the first line; paw and upper thigh. Inked new line on buttocks and hip.
Session #5: Started fill of new line. Completed half of new work (I didn't have a good tattoo day because the session was too soon after my last one; I cut this one short. Read: two hours instead of 3 or 4. !!!!)
Session #6: Completed fill of new line on buttocks and hip.

All of these sessions started with design time, as Darren sketched with his trusty Sharpie on my skin. Most of the time we discarded the work entirely, except during session #4. He completed the fill of the original line, and then started drawing. He got so engrossed in the work that when his next appointment came in, he asked if I would come back to the shop to continue in about an hour and a half. So I went out for some food (with a horrible limp from the fresh ink), and returned for some more design work. We both liked what he came up with, so we went ahead and inked the new line. On that day I was at the tattoo shop for seven hours.

I have to admit that after all this tattooing in such a short time (we just started in December, remember) I have nothing much to say about the experiences. It's routine now, and there isn't much that surprises me anymore. I can say definitively that certain parts of my body are ultra-sensitive (back of knee: agony. hip: strange. calf: ouch, but I knew that already) while other parts are not sensitive at all (butt: hardly felt it. shin: annoying, not painful. top of thigh: a walk in the park, baby.). I can tell you that I am an expert at the tattoo healing process (Day 1: wash. Day 2: wash, wash, wash, A & D ointment. Day 3: wash, A & D, wash, A & D, wash, A & D. Day 4: wash, Curel lotion, wash, Curel lotion. Day 5 and on: let the sucker peel, don't pick it, don't scratch when it itches, lots of lotion.). I have spent every day since the start of this ordeal with some part of my body swollen and purple, throbbing, itching, peeling, or dry and flakey. My friends are now accustomed to my standard "not tonight" excuse: "I need to let the new ink breathe."

Front perspective. I really dig the paw/knee shape.

"Three-pointed knee" and calf close-up. See how black this is coming out? "Like buttah..."

The most annoying thing is that it is winter. This means it is cold. So every time I went to the shop for a session I had to find some sort of suitable clothing that would a) allow me to get tattooed without being completely naked and b) keep me warm enough for the trip home. I never found anything that satisfied both requirements. I ended up bringing clothes to the shop with me, changing before we started, and then running to a taxicab when we were done.

I also resigned myself to being mostly naked around my tattoo artist much of the time. I figure he's seen worse bodies than mind sprawled out in his studio, and I am sure he has tattooed much more intimate areas. I'm still getting used to the scrutiny of the other artists in the shop; it's mildly disconcerting to be sitting in a chair, my skirt hiked up to my hip, Darren's face leaning precariously close to my crotch, with three other artists peering down on my skin and making comments: "Boy, that skin's like butter!" "Darren, that's a great shape ya got there..." "That's a CAT???" "F**k, that's a big tattoo."

So during the sixth tattoo session, on January 9th, I found myself with my pants around my ankles, my shirt on backwards exposing my whole back, and my bra unhooked; posing for Darren, Carlos aka Cfus (another tattoo artist at Rising Dragon), and the floor girl of the day, with all of them scrutinizing the new red pen scrawled over my skin. We were working on the remainder of the outline, the oh-so-important head of this enormous cat. Darren wasn't too happy with his outline, and wanted comments from others on what might be wrong. So there I was, posing and turning and bending my leg and doing all sorts of things, and I wasn't a bit embarassed or self-conscious until right up to the end, when we decided to throw out the new design and just fill in the rest of the old outline.

Because that's when Carlos gave me a slap on my bare ass.

They are nice guys, really, and considering I have worked a bit at the tattoo shop, I do consider myself fairly familiar with all of them. So I wasn't particularly disturbed by the butt-slap. But after that, ass comments abounded throughout the tattoo shop. I just rolled my eyes and attributed it to "Boys will be boys!!!" and let Darren finish the fill...Which of course was mostly on my ass.

Anyway, I've learned a lot over these tattoo sessions. Apparently my skin loves tattoo ink (see "butter" comment above). Darren said, "I could spit this ink on you and your skin would just suck it in..." Cool. Looks like I was predestined to collect tattoos. My skin absorbs the ink very well; after showing the tattoo to all the artists there and to some other tattoo folks, I am hearing again and again how well my skin is taking all that black ink.

Ankle, lower leg close-up. I love that ankle shape.

We are far from done, however. With this much surface area and this much black ink, there are bound to be a few spots that need some redoing. Darren uses different machines every time I am there, according to how his needle is behaving and what part of my body he is tattooing. There are parts of the tattoo where I can see exactly where Darren switched the machine, because the consistency of the fill changes subtly.

The bottom line: after all this black , we have to touch up the whole goddamn thing. To be honest, no one but me and Darren can really see the parts that need more ink. You can see from the pictures that the tattoo looks very consistent, very sharp, and amazingly black. However, we both peer at it constantly, and we both see the small details that need some more work. So although the completion of the basic form of the tattoo is within reach, I still know that there will be hours more of inking to come....

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