My New Tattoo: Hips Don't Lie
It's red. It's swollen. And it needs to be lubricated.
My new tattoo, that is. But before I head off to the Brussels Tattoo Convention to show it off, I wanted to give y'all a sneak peak. This baby took 7 1/2 hours of straight tattooing and done by none other than blackwork guru Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium. While I've been tattooed by a few others, Dan is my main artist, having done my sleeves, back, belly, ribs, and my pretty hobbit foot last May. You can see all my tattoos on Flickr here.
The photo and the work itself now is dark but as you know, once it settles, we'll get a better idea of what the tattoo will look like when I'm eighty years old.
I arrived in Liege on Wednesday, ignored the jet lag and headed to Calypso Tattoo to start drawing out the work with Dan. My idea was to have two snakes winding from my hips down to my thighs. Sexy, huh? Dan thought that we should add flowers on the hips as a base for the work and have the snake moving up towards them. [I also have dotwork floral designs on my belly.] The movement and then placement of the snake took the longest time to figure out. While Dan does mostly freehand, for this work, he sketched it all out and made a stencil for tattooing the next day.
Ok, Thursday. Game day. I leave my hotel and the city is a ghost town. Nothing is open. Barely a car on the road. I walk into the studio nervous -- about the zombie apocalypse and all -- and find Dan refining the dot patterns in the stencil.
"Dan, where is everyone?"
"It's November 11th, a national holiday."
"What are we celebrating?"
"The Armistice that marked the end of the war [in 1918 -- more here]."
"Well considering we're divorced but live in peace, this is my armistice tattoo."
But hell, that armistice tattoo was a battle. I always like to start the needling at the more painful part first, when endorphins really kick in. My right hip was particularly sensitive because I had zapped an old tattoo a few times and there was some minor scaring and skin sensitivity. But the pain was nothing like my foot or upper ribs.
We did the lining of the hip and upper thigh part of the tattoo -- and damn, Dan does looooong lines in one shot -- and then worked in the dotwork patterns. This took up most of the time. You have to have A LOT of patience for dots. It also does a number on the artists' wrists. The effect is beautiful, however, and settles in nicely over time.
Then came the snake's tail end. That was around the 6th hour and I was shot. I really wanted to grab the bottle of Vasocaine numbing spray I bought, desperate, like a pregnant woman begging for an epidural. But Dan encouraged me to tough it out with only an hour or two left because he wasn't sure how the skin would react. So I toughed it out.
Remember when we talked about tattoo pain in the Robert Atkinson post?
Robert said that he had no problems with people using the numbing sprays, adding: "At the end of the day, no one is giving out trophies for being tough." But I also took your thoughtful comments into consideration where many had negative experiences with healing tattoos that had been sprayed, so I did it old school. No trophy. But I came out of it with a tattoo I adore.
Will post pics once it's healed. My session for the other hip is in May. I have time to forget what it feels like until then.
Ok, off to the Brussels convention!
PS: There was some reason for having a Shakira song in the title of this post but now I forgot why. I should practice my snake hip moves just in case.