We're All Mad Here
"Really, now you ask me," said Alice, very much confused, "I don't think-"
"Then you shouldn't talk," said the Hatter.
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off: the Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping they would call after her: the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot." - from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
It was on a train through Belgium, while admiring the sleeved arms of both Rachel and Marissa that I was struck with the inspiration for my sleeve.
I'd always known I wanted sleeved arms but could never quite come up with an idea that worked. I had already started on my back piece which is inspired by Alice in Wonderland when the idea came to me. It made perfect sense, I would continue my backpiece onto my arm with more characters from Alice in Wonderland.
Once the tattoo bug hits, I can't get the idea out of my mind. Much to Rachel's chagrin, I wanted to start on my sleeve right away, even though my back piece is far from finished. I think sleeved arms are one of the most attractive forms of body art and I was very excited and impatient to start mine.
My tattoo artist is about a 2 hour plane ride away, so when I had gathered up some ideas and images, I sent him a letter, explaining what I wanted, along with whatever drawings I'd come up with.
Due to a miscommunication of sorts, I didn't get to start my sleeve when I made the first appointment in the summer of 2004. Then, again, due to circumstances beyond our control, I couldn't start on my sleeve when I made the second appointment in February, 2005.
Finally, summer rolled around again and I was heading to BMEfest, with a stop in Toronto both before and after Mexico. I made my appointment for July 2, a few days after returning from Mexico, since I knew I didn't want to be healing a fresh tattoo while I was at BMEfest.
I stopped into King of Fools 2 days before my appointment to see if I could catch Shane and make sure this appointment was a go. He was in and luckily not with a client at the time, so we got to chat and the appointment was confirmed.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about the appointment. Having something as bold as a sleeved arm is a big step, even with my other visible tattoos and stretched ears. This work would be harder to hide if hiding it was necessary and from time to time I would question myself about my decision but I knew, all nervousness aside, this is what I wanted and it would be beautiful.
I headed downtown about 10:20am on Saturday. I went down to the drug store and bought some orange juice for the appointment, since my blood sugar has a tendency to bottom out while I'm getting worked on. After that I headed down to McDonalds for a healthy meal of nuggets and fries, since I won't get tattooed on an empty stomach.
I headed into King of Fools about 45 minutes before my appointment was actually scheduled to start since Shane had asked me to show up early. We had a chat about what exactly he was going to do that day. We agreed that the best bet was to start with the top bit and shoulder cap since it would be awhile before I got back there and he didn't want me walking around with what would be nothing more than a sketch on my arm until I could make it back to Toronto.
The drawing was beautiful but then I'd never expect anything less than that from Shane. The top part of my arm would be the Mad Tea Party with smokey shading around the scene. The stencil was a little too big, so Shane shrunk it down 10% then had me stand with my arms relaxed at my sides while he placed the stencil. It was placed perfectly in one shot and Shane set up while I sat in a chair and placed my arm up on a padded arm bar.
I was a little nervous about the pain factor, since I'd been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome, a pain disorder, a couple of years ago, I'd noticed that it was much harder for me to sit for work as the pain seemed to be greatly increased. I was hoping this arm piece would hurt much less than the work that was done on my back.
He started to tattoo me, beginning with the actual characters. I think a sharp pinching sensation is how I can best describe the feeling. Tolerable but not very pleasant. Next it was time to start on the shoulder cap. Shane warned me that some people found this to be a fairly sensitive area. I started to worry. I don't know if it was the Fibromyalgia or if that's just how it feels but that was the worst pain I have ever felt while being tattooed. Shane did his best to lighten the situation and continued to remind me that we could take a break whenever I wanted, though, being as stubborn as I am, I decided to tough it out. We took a break once, so Shane could get some more supplies but otherwise we barreled through it.
I'm not sure exactly what time Shane started working on the tattoo, but we were definitely well on our way by 12:30. At 3:30, nearly sliding out of the chair, unable to keep myself upright or stand the pain any longer I had to call it quits. Though the work is far from complete, Shane did an amazing job and it looks excellent. I can't thank him enough.
He bandaged me up real good, I paid and was on my merry way. When I got back to my friends' place, I took off the bandage and washed it off as best as I could, however my arm was still screaming in pain and touching it was proving to be quite the challenge.
Naturally, I went out to a club that night. Much partying and sweating has made for an angry tattoo and even now, as I sit here typing this in the airport, about to head back home to New Brunswick, I've had to roll my shirt sleeve up off the scabby aching limb. There is a lot of solid black in the piece and I'm hoping I don't lose much colour in the healing. So far I've been applying a light cover of Keri unscented lotion once or twice a day in an attempt to appease my arm.
I couldn't recommend Shane enough, so if you're in Toronto and looking to get work done, stop into King of Fools, on 568 Yonge Street and ask for Shane Faulkner.
submitted by: Jen
on: 18 July 2005
in Fantasy Tattoos
Artist: Shane Faulkner
Studio: King of Fools
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada