Since I can remember, my plan was to get inked as soon as I turned 18, nevertheless, at the start of the holidays (almost two years later) I’d yet to adorn my skin with a permanent artwork. With almost no money to my name, I’d come to understand that it would be a very (very very very) long time until I gathered up enough money to get a professional [and fucking awesome] tattoo.
…. And then I discovered stick-n-poke tattoos
What is a stick-n-poke tattoo?
Stick-n-poke tattoos are notoriously known for their (please excuse my candour) shittiness.
They’re pretty much home-made, DIY tattoos, using a needle and thread.
Being me, I instantly fell in love with the idea of having my very own slapdash stick-n-poke… and within an hour, I’d gathered up all the “tools”, and set to work on my first home-made tattoo.
Keen to decorate your pristine skin with your own substandard attempt of a tattoo, like me? \:D/
Well, here’s how:
Before you start thinking up beautiful and intricate tattoo ideas in your head…
Stick-n-poke=simple and small.
Unless you want extremely disappointing results, keep your tattoo design small, modest and linear. NO shading.
Once you’re absolutely sure of your design, you can get started
Things you will need:
- Black India ink (acrylic artists ink)
- A pencil/pen/or anything that is a general pencil-shape
- A clean and spanking new sewing needle (not too big)
- Some sewing thread
- Paper towels (tissues, toilet paper, whatever)
- Some water
- A marker/pen
- And patience (this, you really, really need)
Set everything out on a clean surface, and wash your hands you filthy hobo!
Step 1: sterilize the needle
Unless you’re keen on a nasty infected tattoo, sterilize the shit out of your needle before you start.
It’s easy, just soak your needle in boiling water, or pure alcohol (or both- if you’re into that) for at least ten minutes, and TA-DA! You’re ready to go.
Step 2: making your tattoo “tool”
Take your (now sterilized) needle, and hold it against the end of the pencil, with only about 1/3 of the needle sticking out off the end of the pencil.
Attach the needle to the pencil using sewing thread. Keep wrapping around and around until the needle is firmly attached to the pencil.
Don’t stop just yet, also wrap the sewing thread around the sticking-out part of the needle, wrap around the needle, almost all the way to the tip of the needle, leaving only around 1-3mm bare. THIS IS ESSENTIAL, the thread soaks up the ink, and is needed for the tattooing process.
Step 3: draw on your design with a marker/pen
Don’t stretch the skin when drawing on the design, or it will become lopsided :/
Step 4: tattoo the shit out of yourself :D
Remember in Tech drawing, or introductory art, or whatever, when you learnt that stippling drawing technique? Yeah, well, that’s pretty much how a stick-n-poke tattoo is done. The entire tattoo is comprised of hundreds of tiny little dots, which (after a tedious amount of time) form the end-result of a linear tattoo.
As you can imagine, stick-n-poke tattoos therefore take a long time (much longer than tattoos done by machine), and thus require a lot of patience. (This is why large stick-n-poke tattoos are not recommended)
The most important thing is: DON’T RUSH. The more you rush, the uglier your stick-n-poke will turn out.
So the method is pretty simple:
Dip your needle into the ink, not too much, just enough to soak the thread
Now you can stretch the skin (so that it’s nice and taut), and POKE, again, and again, and again, following the design you’ve drawn
Eventually the millions of dots will become lines
Dip your needle in the ink every so often (otherwise you’ll be painfully jabbing yourself with no results- NOT fun)
It can get quite messy, the ink runs over the surrounding skin a lot, which might make it harder for you to see what the fuck you’re doing, just gently wipe away the ink with a wet paper towel, and continue.
Once it’s done, gently wash your tattoo with warm soapy water. Keep your tattoo hydrated with non-scented cream for the next few weeks, don’t over-do it though, it’s really not a big deal. Don’t pick at it, scratch it, yeah, you know the drill.
You may need to go back and touch up your tattoo after it’s healed (both my tattoos still need to be touched up, I’m just too darn lazy to do it)
And there you have it! Your very own stick-n-poke :D
Here are photos of my stick-n-pokes:
My first stick-n-poke was nothing less than spontaneous, I had no idea what I was doing, I was rushed, I had a 3 year old hanging over my shoulder, and I put barely any thought into the “design” (if you can even call it that). But as aesthetically horrible as it is, I “love” it dearly :D
My second stick-n-poke was just as spontaneous as the first. I chose one of John Lennon’s famous self-portraits, because he’s a bawwws, and I love him.
And that, my friends, is the art of stick-n-poke tattooing.
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