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Blue Star Acid

g Day I woke up around 9:30. I needed to fill my tank and go to the bank before actually going to the shop. It was also the day that Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones were getting married; it sort of tickles me that every time they celebrate their wedding anniversary, I'll be celebrating the anniversary of my first tattoo. It was also Juneteenth, which is Southern holiday celebrating the emancipation of African-American slaves. At 11:30, I set out for Forbidden Fruit. It takes about half an hour to get downtown from my house; of course, I was a bit early. I walked around the block, read posters in front of Ester's Follies (one of Austin's best comedy showcases), and decided to go ahead to Forbidden Fruit. I was starting to sweat, anyway, and waiting in the shade outside the shop seemed better than standing in the sun. There were two guys waiting outside; it was still a few minutes until noon. They were both older men (mid-40s or so), and they had heavy Texas accents. I suspected they were from one of the smaller towns outside of Austin. Three women and two little kids joined them. The men were friends getting tattoos before a bachelor party that afternoon, and the women were their wives and a friend. One woman took the kids and I didn't see them again; the two men and their wives came with me into the shop when it opened. I told the lady at the front desk, Rene (I think) that I was to meet Craig at noon. She told me that he must be running a little late. I didn't mind. I listened to the two men as Rene explained the paperwork to them. A multi-pierced guy was running around and tidying the shop; as I looked at jewelry to kill time, he asked if I needed help. I told him no, I was waiting for Craig. Rene was calling the artists, since they were both late. Craig got there a few minutes later. He was very tall, had full sleeves done on both arms, a thick septum pierce, and was pretty darn cute. First of all, he took me to his station to show me the blue ink he was going to use. I wanted a nice bright blue, but not turquoise and not too light. The idea was to match it to the ball in my nose ring. Sure enough, the color matched. Craig told me the tattoo would be darker at first, and then lighten up to the shade I wanted. He showed me a photo of a healed tattoo with the same ink, and it was the perfect color. I had to go do the paperwork and pay at the front desk while Craig worked on the design. The total cost was $150. Not bad, since it was the same price I'd been quoted. I forked over my money, and waited in the front part of the shop. I originally wanted the stars to be a little bigger than those round, flat, silver thumbtacks; I realized that a design so small would be hard to discern unless I stuck my foot in someone's face when they wanted to see it. I also needed them big enough so that you could tell they were blue. I ended up with them being about the size of a dime; think of those shiny foil star stickers (they come in a pack with blue, red, green, and gold), and you've got the size. Craig had to use geometry (shudder) to figure out the degrees for the angles in the stars so they'd be correct. I appreciated that attention to detail. I told him that I wanted the stars to have some space between them, and to be a bit staggered (i.e. not all in a perfectly straight line). He suggested we tilt them a bit, too; I hadn't thought of that, but it sounded great. Craig went back to arrange the cut-out, xeroxed stars on the paper. I looked at the piercing catalog that showed all the different puncture options. The multi-pierced guy told me jokingly to go ahead and pick something. I told him I was considering an industrial. He took out a measuring thing and measured my ear, and wrote down the size bar I'd need. He told me his name is John, and he pierces at Forbidden Fruit. (Another piercer there, Bear, did my nose ring for me, and I'm supremely happy with it. The write-up is on BME, under "Once ... Twice ... Three Times a Piercee.") We talked about ear options, and I'll probably get an industrial at Forbidden Fruit later this year. I told John that I'd wanted my navel done, but a piercer in another shop told me it would reject. John said that although my navel is shallow, he could probably do it with the right curved barbell. This made me quite happy. A few people came into the shop; most asked about henna tattoos. Evidently Forbidden Fruit has a wonderful, experienced henna artist on staff. I thought about getting a white-ink tattoo based on the henna designs. Craig brought out a paper with the nine little cut-out stars glue-sticked onto the paper. He had me arrange them just as I wanted them, and went back to make the stencil and prepare the work area. I could see him cleaning things up, and he brought out a padded table and pillow, which he covered in paper. One of the men who was waiting said, "Well, looks like he's getting ready for you." It was about fifteen minutes until one. Craig came and got me, and I hopped up on the table. He felt my leg and said, "Oh, you already shaved. Guess we won't need this," as he put the razor on the table. He sprayed my leg with a disinfectant, and stuck the stencil on. It looked great, but it was a bit too low. He cleaned the stencil-goo off my leg, and reapplied the stencil a little higher up. It was perfect. I asked if he did a lot of first-time tattoos, and he said yes. He then said, "I've done this a few times." I knew he was kidding, and I was glad he at least had a sense of humor about this. I asked if he'd ever had an unsatisfied customer, and he told me no. He then got his portfolio, so I could see his other work. I looked through it, and was ready. Craig explained that the worst of the pain would be the outline, and it would be about as bad as a cat scratch; even then, the worst of it was in the first five minutes. I had heard over and over that the outline hurts worse than the filling-in part, so I was prepared. I was afraid that I'd flinch; Craig reassured me that he was steadying my leg, and even then, I'd have to flinch significantly to make him mess up. Queen was playing in the background throughout my entire tattoo. I was surprised how cognizant I was about everything around me. I think I expected to be transfixed by pain. The first strike surprised me; it really did feel like a cat scratch! I was certainly expecting worse. Craig had to outline each of the nine stars, then fill in the points with the outlining-needle, then fill in the rest of each star. I laid on my back for most of the process, and sat up occasionally. We talked through most of the process. I guess being a tattoo artist is like being a hairdresser or manicurist: while you're working, your client is going to talk to you. It turns out we both like the Flametrick Subs (an Austin band), and he used to work near my house. He also told me about how when he was a kid, he and his friend came up with alternate lyrics to "We Will Rock You." Hee hee. This led to a discussion about Queen, and how their songs are ripe for parodying. I told him I was glad that my tattoo artist had such a sophomoric sense of humor. I also found out that he drives a Volvo and has a small dog. Every time he completed the outline of a star, Craig told me ("Five down, four to go!"). He also told me as he used the outlining-needle to fill in the points of the star. I don't remember if he mentioned it when he switched to the filling-in needles. I know I'm in the minority, but I think that the filling in hurt more than the outlining. It felt like a dull razor was being scraped against my skin! It wasn't terrifically painful, but more so than the outlining. Craig seemed surprised about that. After all the stars had been filled in, Craig blotted my ankle with a paper towel. I commented on how surprised I was that there was no blood. He lifted the towel and showed me the stamped-on stars from my blood. You could see that the darkest ones were those he'd just done. He noticed one place needed a touch-up, and did it. And we were done. I became aware of how shaky I was all of a sudden, and that I had to leave. It felt a bit like being kicked out of bed. Craig had someone waiting who wanted a piece of flash off the wall (an angel with a banner, and someone's name). He didn't rush me, though. He explained the aftercare, gave me some little packets of Bacitracin, and I put my shoes on. Craig told me to come back when it was all healed so he could see it and take a photo for his portfolio. It seemed a little odd to end the experience, but what else could I do besides leave? I couldn't just lie on the table all day. I promised Craig I'd come back and show him the finished product. It was 2:00, and I was feeling great. I stepped outside the shop with the realization that I was finally a tattooed woman! Same Day, 2:20 p.m. When I got home, my father was the only one there. He asked if it hurt, and I told him no, it was on par with a cat scratch. It's been about 30 minutes since Craig finished the tattoo, and the area is a bit sore. I have to leave the paper towel on for another 40 minutes or so; I wonder if the pressure of the taped-on towel is exacerbating the soreness. It feels like razor burn; it's not terribly painful, but rather annoying. I'm still a bit shaky, and sort of giddy from the excitement. I finally did it. After years of wanting a tattoo, I finally got one. I'm not having difficulty coming to terms with its permanence; I'm trying to understand that it really exists. I love looking down and seeing the bold stars around my leg. I'm so glad the design turned out so beautifully. Same Day, 4:30 p.m. The paper towel is off, and I've applied a thin layer of the Bacitracin ointment Craig gave me. I kind of want to keep the paper towel; it has a lovely blood print of my stars. My tattoo isn't sore at all right now. The area between the stars is paler than the rest of my skin, and the stars themselves seem slightly raised, but less than I would expect. I'm very conscious of the area. It looks so nice ... Same Day, 11:30 p.m. Just took my first post-tattoo shower. My tattoo was a little tender at first. I kept it out of the direct spray of the water; I did shave up to the tattoo and then between the stars. I will be wearing shorts for the next few days, after all! After my shower, I cleaned my tattoo with a gentle antibacterial hand soap (the clear kind, that comes in a clear pump bottle that looks like an aquarium, with the little picture of swimming turtles ... well, you know it when you see it). I applied more Bacitracin. Now that it's been a few minutes since I washed it, the tattoo isn't nearly as tender. I'm a little worried about sleeping, since I know I move around some in my sleep. Of course, other people sleep with new tattoos all the time, and they don't have a problem. Day Two: Sunday, June 20 It was driving me crazy, so I had to cover my tattoo last night. I taped a paper towel around it to keep it from rubbing on my sheets and getting ointment all over the place. I'm doing the same thing tonight. There's a bit of the blue color from the tattoo in the ointment. I guess that's the tattoo shedding ink. The area is still a bit puffy, and it gets tender when I wash it or if something hits it. I keep forgetting to be careful when going down the stairs; I keep bumping the back of my ankle on the edge of each step. I haven't noticed the color fading yet. I got to show it off today, though. I went shopping, and then went to see "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." (I make no secret of my love for Seth Green.) I spoke to my older sister on the phone; she's been contemplating a tattoo for years. She didn't believe me when I told her it didn't hurt. Day Three: Monday, June 21 When I removed my overnight wrap this morning, I noticed a bit of diluted ink on the paper towel. Barely enough to leave an imprint, really. It's barely sore, and not really puffy anymore. Today was my first day back at work. I'm an editorial assistant for a nonprofit newsletter that my boss distributes out of her home. My boss is over seventy years old, but she did hire me despite my nose ring; I don't do much work with "the public", so it's not an issue. The entire staff consists of my boss, me and one other editorial assistant, and one administrative assistant. At any rate, my new ink wasn't an issue. If my boss noticed, she didn't care. (I had told her I was going to get my tattoo that weekend.) The only problem I had was trying to remember not to fold my legs so that my ankle rested on my other leg. Old habits die hard. Day Four: Tuesday, June 22 Last night I didn't cover it while I slept. As a result, there was almost no ointment left on the darn thing by the time I woke up. I've gotten more casual about the area. I wore a long skirt to work today, and it brushed the tattoo several times. I also sat with my feet crossed. I'm not as cautious as I was, probably because it's not tender anymore. I don't think it's as vulnerable a wound now, either. But: Must ... not ... slack ... on ... aftercare! Was ... given ... instructions ... for ... a ... good ... reason! There's no puffiness, no soreness, and only a smidgen of redness surrounding a few of the stars. The tattooed skin feels tough, sort of like a smooth callous. I guess it's on its way to scabbing over. I have naturally dry skin, so I think I'm going to start using sensitive-skin lotion as well as the Bacitracin. The color is a bit lighter, but I haven't noticed any more ink loss. I think I've noticed a slight itch, but it might be my imagination. I hope it's my imagination. Either that, or my skin is just getting dry. The same thing happened with my nose ring ... I stopped using lotion because I didn't want to contaminate the piercing, but then my skin ended up horribly dry and red and disgusting-looking. (I resumed my lotion, and all was well in a day or two. And the piercing was fine.) So I think I'll use some soothing lotion on the skin around each star tonight. Day Five: Wednesday, June 23 I'm still using the Bacitracin ointment, but this is my last day of that. The itch has begun; it's not too bad. I'm putting Aveeno lotion on it; Aveeno is the company that makes an oatmeal soak that relieves the itch of chicken pox. The lotion is tremendously soothing, and very moisturizing. It has no additives or anything like that, so it doesn't irritate the skin. I recommend it over the Lubriderm, which is a little thin for my taste. Day Six: Thursday, June 24 Definite evidence of "onion peel" skin: thin white lines of skin are appearing on the tattoos, and they look a bit crinkled. The scabs are softer now that I'm using Aveeno instead of the Bacitracin. Also, the itch is a bit more pronounced. Nothing big, I just make sure to rub a dab of lotion in every now and again. (I do scratch between the stars, which helps in a placebo-effect kind of way. I have long nails, so I'm extra careful not to accidently scratch the tattoo!) While I do let the tattoo come in contact with chairs, etc, I always wash my hands before touching it. I also wash it off after my ferret careens into my leg. After I washed it tonight, I noticed a few flecks of blue skin are coming off a couple of the stars. I need to be careful not to rush things; I don't want accidental abrasion to peel off the scabs prematurely. I don't really get it in the direct spray of my shower water, but it does get wet. Day Seven: Friday, June 25 There are more flecks of blue skin coming off. I'm trying hard not to peel them off, but washing and applying lotion seem to help them along. I guess the lotion softens the skin so it comes off easier. Day Eight: Saturday, June 26 It's now officially a week since I got my tattoo! Yippie! The last of the blue flecks came off today while I was getting ready to go out. The skin underneath is very shiny. I also wore pants for the first time since getting the tattoo. No biggie. Day Nine: Sunday, June 27 Okay, there have been a few more little blue flecks. The tattooed skin is still incredibly shiny and sort of slightly wrinkled-looking; it looks like laminated blue paper. There's some itching every now and then, but not as much as in the past few days. Day Ten: Monday, June 28 There's hardly any more itching. I think I'm just about healed. I shaved over it for the first time, too. One Month Later I'm completely healed, and very happy to be inked! I'm also very glad that I waited until I had the perfect design, and that I went to a reputable shop.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 08 Sept. 1999
in Tattoos

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Artist: Craig
Studio: Forbidden+Fruit
Location: Austin%2C+Texas%2C+USA

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