THE WANDERING JEW
I'm a Messianic Jew, meaning I'm a Jew that is Christian. My tattoos are for me symbols of my spiritual beliefs. The theme that links them together is fire and smoke. I have had about five different tattooers, because I made the mistake of offending them. One got busted, one left the state, one went mad, one threatened to kill me and ended up crying like a 300-pound baby. I started my backpiece about 3 years ago, and I hadn't had the money to work on it since. I had come into a large inheritence from my Father's passing. I had about $12,000, which I thought would be MORE than enough to do my "bodysuit."
I've wanted to have a full bodysuit since age 11, when I discovered "The Illustrated Man," by Ray Bradbury. It's a magnificent story of a man that is tattooed neck-to-wrist and neck-to-toe, all in ONE NIGHT, by a Gypsy (witch.) When people look at one of the designs on him, it moves and tells a story. He has one small untattooed patch on his shoulder, and if you look at that you'll see your future. The "Illustrated Man" is a device to link together some magnificent Sci-Fi stories, including one of the first descriptions of Virtual Reality.
On the cover of the paperback was a bald man with a full tattoo "suit," sitting on a high platform, and looking out on a wasted and empty landscape. It seemed to say the Illustrated Man would be the last man on Earth. I have often thought that would be a GOOD thing. Silence is golden!
Now, I waited 22 years to get my first tattoo. I gave it a lot of thought, and prayer, and study of that phrase in Leviticus that says "Do not cut yourself or mark yourself for the dead." Well, I'm not tattooing myself for the dead, or the "dead," meaning demons. I'm tattooing images that remind me of my faith. I'M DECORATING THE TEMPLE, NOT DESECRATING IT!
Now, one day my wife found a new tattoo shop, only about 1/2 mile from my house. If I had to, I could walk over there and back. It turns out that New Castle Ink (Newport, Delaware) and its proprietor/tattooer/piercer, Doug Connaway... is a goth shop. There are skeletons in the wallpaper on one wall. He commissioned me to paint a Day-Glo skull with devil's horns. When I entered the shop, he was talking to another fellow about some large signage (a pile of skulls with NEW CASTLE INK on it.) After awhile, he approved the work and rolled up the two signs.
Doug was rather fierce-looking. He has a shaved head, pierced ears and septum, and a full bodysuit, including neck-work (of demonic skulls.) I talked to him about what I wanted, putting flames on the "YHVH" letters (in Hebrew) on my shoulders. We talked about the image I want, I now want it to be a ball of flames and smoke by which the name of God would be surrounded. I think it will be MAD shading, and the flames will radiate out from the center of this huge cloud.
I'm drawing each part, and "designing" the rest, giving a lot of room to the tattooers' ideas. I pretty much let them express themselves freely, and I'm using elements (fire and smoke) that every tattooer has done a million times. So I know it will turn out fine.
I talked to Doug about all this, and he said "sit down and we'll start." I explained I had to collect payment for a painting my friend, "St. Mike," had bought for $100bucks. So I came back the next day with the money.
Doug's shop was IMMACULATE. He had an autoclave and individually-wrapped needlebars. He picked a "five" to do the flames on top of the YHVH letters. I drew him a sketch of my idea, then I told him I wanted them to look "like torches, or a flaming bush." He nodded his shaved and much-pierced head in understanding.
I asked Doug how long it would take for the sketch, but he said he'd draw it right on me! I was getting some great freehand tattooing. He took out a red magic-marker and started sketching on my back. He said, "Take a look at it, let's make sure we're on the same page." I took a look in a mirror, and thought it looked REALLY good. I sat down on the tattoo bench and waited for the stings to begin.
Doug had a very light touch, and the outline work didn't even hurt. Even though it was my back and he was tattooing on either side of and on top of my spine... there was no pain. I was really "into it," and decided to sit still and quietly. Every now and then I stretched my neck a bit. He said once, "Stop moving, I'm WORKING back here!" I said "Sorry!" and he said, "It's Okay..." and continued work. It took almost exactly an hour to put the flames on top of the Y, H, V and H (Yud, Heh, Vav, Heh). I took a look in the mirror and WOW, he had CORRECTED MY DISTORTED CALLIGRAPHY! IT READ BETTER NOW IN THE HEBREW! I think it really was inspired and meant to be "fire writing," which is what God used to write the tablets with the 10 Commandments on them.
I was instructed to apply A&D ointment lightly to the flames day and night, to not pick or scratch at it, to not soak it in water, etc. I was given a sheet with the instructions on them. I had my wife, Jane, apply ointment day and night for a month. It's now healed completely, and looks great! I'm waiting for my birthday money (it was on 7/7 and I'm still waiting for $100bucks Jane promised me.) I should be able to get some more work in August. Maybe some of the radiating flames, with a larger needle-count.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 05 Aug. 2004
in Hebrew Tattoos
Originally written by DJBeastmaster
Artist: Doug Conaway
Studio: New Castle Ink
Location: Newport, Delaware, USA