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Crawling Up

The sky is about constant change, morphing from one form into another only to change again. It is fascinating to watch but even more fascinating it is to observe the changes occurring in us over time. I begin to notice more and more how I change myself and how much broader my own perspective becomes. And even though there is some validity to words Jean Kilbourne wrote in her book (we learn to dread the natural process of growing older and we feel terribly devalued as we age in her book "Can't buy my love"), I do both enjoy and cherish the changes undergoing in me over time.

My first tattoo was just for the heck of it, because I wanted to experience what it was like to get tattooed – if there were any subconscious reasons behind my decision, I was blissfully ignorant in this regard. A few years later it is still about the joy and thrill but yet it is also about so many other things. And it is not only about the mere process of tattooing but also about its history, how it is perceived now, what it can or could mean. Body modification is also about modification of our minds; not surprising as mind is an integral part of the body.

The second session of my right sleeve was scheduled (03/ 20/ 08 just for the record's sake) back in January and the long waiting period began. At first it was not that hard to tackle the waiting although gawds out there do know how much I suck at being patient. In the meantime I got a second, part-time, job and the main reason behind it was earning more money only for my "mod fund"; I made sure to work out and run as much as possible as I still, and I think I always will, believe that physical activity is the most basic, crucial and enjoyable form of body modification ever, and I immersed myself in reading books on body modification from various perspectives. Almost always perceived as a feminist and never feeling like one, I did enjoy reading books also from a feminist perspective although arguing against many of its points was equally enjoyable. I have been too busy to count days but, seeing as almost a one-fourth of my arm was covered with ink during the first session, I was looking forward to continuing the process.

March was approaching fast, however, and I started feeling impatient. A week before the date I started counting days. I did not have a particularly good streak of luck then, so I started getting paranoid (not the first time, actually!). Two days before the appointment Slawek called me to discuss the design and how both he and I imagined the sleeve. I realized that I got so focused on getting at least a half-sleeve done after this upcoming session that I lost from my sight the whole design and this was not good! "How much" is pointless if there is no "what" behind it, so I felt some relief when I finally remembered what I decided to make parts of my sleeve.

Two days later I jumped on the bus to Poznan, shivering from the unusually low temperature for the spring time in Poland. A few hours later, after running several errands and making sure I got sandwiches and juice for the guys, I headed in the right direction. The familiar sound of a tattoo machine in action was a welcomed sound and I liked how all my frustration and stress seemed to be flying away.

After some chatting and catching up with all the news about our lives and whatnot Slawek was ready to start and I could jump onto the chair. I took out a book to read (Tom Robbins; he's one of my favorite writers now!) and reached out my right forearm.

No stencil this time around, either although Slawek's free-handing was not all that spontaneous. As he pointed out earlier, and quite right I think, good free-handing is not possible if it is not preceded by some research and planning. In front of him there was a printout of my sleeve design, so he could refer to it for colors and proportions of the sleeve elements. He drew a few lines for soon-to-be-tattooed clouds and the fun began.

My wrist needed some fixing as the outline of my, now almost completely covered up, first tattoo still was quite visible, so this was the first step of the process. The needles hurt quite bad and I got reminded again why wrists are not my favorite placement ever. On the bright side, it was probably the last time my wrist(s) was tattooed as I do not plan to do anything about the way my wrists look.

Then it was time to move up, to my forearm, and I was still wondering if I would be lucky enough to leave the studio with something close to a half-sleeve. Slawek seemed to be working amazingly fast on this sleeve so far and it kept growing right in front of my eyes with an astonishing speed. As he said, however, there is a huge difference between my left and right sleeves, both design- and working style-wise, so there is nothing surprising about the way my cloudy sleeve keeps progressing.

The small containers with various colors of the ink were ready to use on Slawek's work station and I liked what I saw – orange and yellow, dark blue and aquamarine. Colors that no one would suspect me of liking and yet I welcomed the sight of them. Slawek did not discuss them with me – no need for that as they had already been used the first time around and now it was just a sort of adding to the base of my sleeve.

During next three hours I did not open my book even once as somehow I was too busy with talking to guys, both laughing and goofing around and discussing more serious subjects. It has been snowing on and off throughout the whole day, so now and then I caught myself at looking out of the window and watching snow flakes swirling down on the pavement. The TV was set on the Polish weather channel, so I could have a look at weather conditions (I am serious about my new passion!) and there was a nice swing music in the background. A peaceful, relaxing atmosphere and nothing could ruin the positive way I felt then and there, even the growing numbness in my arm as Slawek kept working on my sleeve.

No procedural pictures were taken this time, so it was only us who got to witness this great re-occurring wonder of skin being slowly and irreversibly covered with new colors. I got reminded of Tolkien's "Lord of the Ring" where there is so much talking about growing darkness, crawling out slowly from Mordor towards the Middle Earth. No darkness in my case, just this overwhelming mix of colors, crawling their way up my arm, colors that seem so unusual to me and yet so fitting at the same time.

When we were done for now, I could admire my "new" forearm for a while; Jacek was kind enough to take a few shots of it and then I got all wrapped and taped up. My mod session was not finished then yet, though, as I was supposed to stretch my septum piercing to 8ga.
I was a little apprehensive about this whole stretch thing as my body does not seem to be very stretchable. I knew that there was enough room for bigger jewelry but I was not sure how the stretch would go. Jacek was as reassuring and comforting as ever and it was great to find myself again in his piercing room as it has been ages since we did something together. The new jewelry, a wonderful niobium retainer by Anatometal from BMEshop, was autoclaved and ready to use hours ago. I insisted on taking out my old 10ga retainer myself (I would hate to realize Jacek removed a "dirty" retainer from my nose!) even though Jacek did not want to hear about it. A few seconds later his gloved hands inserted a taper into my nose and pushed it slightly – there was some pressure and, even though my eyes started watering almost right away, it was not overly painful. Right after my piercer put a new retainer into my nose, turned it in properly and here I was with stains of mascara under my eyes and sore septum – mission accomplished and I was almost elated to have it done! Yet another reason to feel good that day.

As Slawek told me, this session was the last one as far as the clouds in my sleeve go and next time we are going to start working on my upper arm which is supposed to be covered with autumn leaves. Since I want to incorporate my love for "Beowulf" here, we are also going to throw in carefully chosen words and phrases in Old English from the poem. My fascination with the poem and the values that stand behind it seems to grow more and more over time, so I am really looking forward to making the poem also a physical part of me.

When Slawek and I started to work on my right arm we had a totally different concept for my possible right sleeve, both design- and color-wise. Somehow, however, it looks like my own interests and my forearm tattoo are meant to fit together and create something that reflects and illustrates my feelings on more than just one level. Maybe my subconsciousness has been working all this time or maybe it is just a coincidence. Whatever it is, I like what unfolds in front of my eyes.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 07 April 2008
in Tattoos

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Artist: Slawek
Studio: Tattoo%26Piercing+Studio+Poznan
Location: Poznan%2C+Poland

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