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Holy shit, I've done it now!

ubmitted a story here previously, about my tattoo journey which didn't begin till I was 35 years old and how it has influenced my life. My first tattoo -- a small blue flower on the front of my right shoulder -- was a big milestone for me. I've just celebrated an even bigger milestone -- my first below-the-elbow work. Over the past couple of years as I've addded more and more work, the mental process was pretty much the same -- find a spot for the idea I had in mind and get it done. No real internal debate was needed. Over the past year, however, I began to consider extending my two half sleeves to nearly full sleeves. This represented a pretty big deal for me; when I started to get more and more tats, I originally decided NOT to go below the elbow. I figured that staying above the elbow was much easier to cover with clothing. Also, while below the elbow is a fairly common spot for a guy to get inked, there really aren't that many women out there with sleeves. Yes, I know that people say that tattooing has gone pretty mainstream and I suppose that in a way, that's true. But think for a minute -- outside of a tattoo convention, how many heavily tattooed people do you see? And how many of those are women? I work in New York City, which is about as far from consertative middle america as you can get, and outside of a convention I've seen exactly TWO women with full sleeves. So while lots more people are getting inked, the percentage of them getting extensive, visible work is still fairly small. And I'm not exactly the first person you would expect to have heavy coverage, let alone sleeves -- I'm a 41 year old woman who works as an administrative assistant for a large bank! The more I thought about it, though, the more I was sure that I wanted to go below the elbow. To begin with, my work is down to my elbows and nearly none of my short-sleeved blouses completely cover it anyhow. And I really wanted the look of solid sleeves. So I thought long and hard and came up with what for me is the perfect design -- a Drowsy doll (circa 1967 from Mattell Toy Company), sitting next to a rainbow-colored teddy bear. The doll has meaning for me; it is just like one that my grandmother gave me when I was 10 years old. My grandma is gone now, and this doll would be a way to remember her. Also, I collect dolls and teddy bears, and this is a way of acknowledging some of my hobbies. This brings up to this past weekend, when my husband and I went to Fall Carlisle, a huge antique car swap meet and show in Carlisle, PA. While this show is predominantly geared towards the antique car hobby, it has a variety of vendors of other products and services -- including a tattoo artist! Dick has been a vendor at Carlisle for the past 20 years and has a customized trailer which he works out of that contains everything (including an autoclave, of course!) needed for full-service tattooing. Dick was also the artist who started me on this journey 6 1/2 years ago by inking on the blue flower on my right shoulder. Over the years I've slowly built my left sleeve with him one piece at a time at the spring and fall events at Carlisle, and in the process found a good friend in both Dick and his wife Big Time (she doesn't tattoo but handles the 'front' duties). And since he started me along this path, it was totally appropriate for him to be the one to bring me to the next major milestone. The afternoon of Wednesday, September 29th found me sitting in Dick's chair with him drawing on my arm (he does everything freehand), and my doll and teddy bear propped up posing. Once we tweaked the drawing and got the positioning right (he suggested a change from my original idea, which of course was an improvement), it was time for the buzz of the needle! As I felt the first searing pain of the needle permanently etching the line across my forearm, I said 'This is it -- now I've crossed a line forever!' It was both scary and exciting at the same time. There was no turning back now, the deed was done! And yes, while it was a bit of a jolt to realize I'd taken my own dare and done it, there was also a tremendous feeling of excitement and liberation. With each of my previous tattoos, but especially this one, I was putting myself further from the realm of 'average' -- which is one of the best things about it. We finished up the outline that afternoon and I went back the following morning for the shading and color work. It took a total of 4 1/2 hours for the shading and color -- it turned out to take out a huge portion of my lower arm, and had quite a bit of detail. The doll is a sleepy looking little blonde baby, and the bear is a floppy little guy with rainbow striped running from top to bottom. Sorry -- no access to a digital camera, otherwise I'd send along a photo. I'm willing to bet that there aren't too many other people whose sleeves have stuff on them like dolls, teddy bears, bunny rabbits, turtles, cats.....Heck, if I wanted to be like all the other tattooed people I would'nt have gotten inked in the first place! I like being different. Once it was finished, I stood up to admire my newly decorated arm. It looks great -- and I have to admit, it is taking a bit of getting used to having my lower arm covered with ink! But I definitely don't regret it a bit. My husband even admitted that he liked it (he's not a tat fan at all), although he was less than thrilled about the below the elbow placement. So, the deed is done -- I've officially crossed a threshold! Stay tuned for the further adventures of a woman who was 'born to be MILD'!


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 05 Oct. 1999
in Tattoos

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Artist: Dick+Cummins
Studio: Tattoos+by+Dick+and+Big+Time
Location: On+the+road+in+Carlisle%2C+PA

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