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Sacred Heart

I can't remember when I first became a tattoo fan, I know I wanted piercings as a teenager but I never got my first until I was over eighteen. Even at that age my Mum tried to slap me.

When I first moved into a flat with my husband I realised I could get whatever I wanted pierced. It was exciting. I started visiting Sarge, first to get my septum pierced, then a double labret, then a medusa closely followed by double nostrils, then I lost track. Each time I visited my Mum she'd be furious.

Luckily, my younger sister was the first in the family to get a tattoo... on the back of her neck. After that, I didn't think my Mum would ever be as angry as I saw her that day. Though, by now, I was in my mid-twenties living twentyfive miles away. I shouldn't have really been afraid of my Mum's reactions but she was unpredictable when she was angry.

I remember seeing a photo of Miss Violetta Beauregarde; the nautical star, the wrist stitches, the heart with banner... Suddenly I wanted to look at more tattoos. Because I realised that tattoos could be way more expressive than I ever imagined.

I started subscribing to magazines and I knew I liked the new school / old school style. I didn't know what I wanted tattooed on my body. Stars appealed to me, but they were quite trendy at the time. The black outline star tattoos were popping up all over the place, especially on those alt-model nudey sites. I wasn't sure if I liked the design or the fact that everyone I knew with those star tattooed on them were strong powerful women (like I wanted to be).

I still had no plans to get tattooed but I liked the idea of a heart or bird tattoo. I always liked how feather tattoos look, and a heart is just a charming image (everyone loves love, right?). I read about sacred hearts and I read that they can be drawn with or without fire, wire or wings. I'm not sure if this is true. I think a genuine sacred heart needs a light around it, though I'd be happy to find out for sure.

The heart with wings idea just took off. I remembered it was the logo Swift Heart had on his belly, then I was pretty sure I wanted to go ahead with the tattoo. The question was just where.

I was on myspace one evening and saw my friend was getting tattooed in Blood Brothers. I liked the look of Tiny Miss Becca's work. I started emailing her with a description of the design I had in mind. I've always had trouble visualising things, but I was determined to get this right. I wanted the heart on my pubic mound with the wings pointing towards my hips. Becca sent me a sketch and I pinned it up on my desk at work for months to check I'd still like the image after a while.

There were a few changes Tiny Miss Becca suggested, mostly to do with the colour and shading. But I liked the sound of the changes.

September came and I got on my train to London. I arrived at the station an hour early because I kept having nightmares about missing my appointment and my design being tattooed on another customer. I kept going to the toilet a lot (fight or flight symptom) and I couldn't swallow any of my food. So by midday I was weak. I tried eating again but it wouldn't happen.

When I got to the studio Lady Frankenstein, the receptionist, chatted to me about having birthdays in January and rollerderby. I felt pretty relaxed. I don't remember much about the tattoo preparations, I was a nervous mess. I remember telling Tiny Miss Becca that the original transfer was too small and I wanted it bigger. She enlarged it a couple of times and then asked me what I thought. I gulped, Yeah that's it. The placement wasn't as low as I wanted but I was aware there were other people in the studio who could see me... I felt embarrassed at the thought of pulling my trousers down any more!

The first hour went past smoothly, the second was not so good. In the end I had to call off the final hour because I felt unwell. I looked really pale and I heard high-pitched noises. Lady Frankenstein made me a cup of tea and gave me a chocolate bar.

I struggled home.

I healed OK, but the red blending with white didn't take on my skin too well. A couple of days later my sister came around and took a photo of my tattoo. I looked at it and immediately saw what I hadn't noticed before. My tattoo was off-centre. I felt disappointed in myself. I agreed to the placement because I was too nervous to concentrate. Luckily, most people tell me it's not noticeable.

Eight weeks later I was back in the chair. Lady Frankenstein put some Johnny Cash on the stereo, the session went quicker. Except for my pubic mound. Tiny Miss Becca thought it needed to be recoloured, I agreed. But I hated getting it tattooed in the first place, getting it recoloured was painful.

Five years later the heart needs a recolour again, but still like the tattoo very much. The wings look tired and I have stretch marks over part of one. I feel elated when I think of the journey of my life. I can definitely relate to this winged heart.


submitted by: ninamarie
on: 24 July 2013
in Hearts and Love Tattoos

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