Tattoo experience using an animal marking device, c/o IAM:redneckzombi
“I now have my first veganism/animal liberation related tattoo. Here’s how it went basically:
Attempt number one:We covered the digits in tattoo ink and put some gauze in my labret-hole so I wouldn’t drool everywhere, and then put ink inside my lip. I smashed the pliers down as good as I could, but it was hard to feel exactly what was happening. I was kind of paranoid about pushing them all the way through my lip. It was pretty painful, so I went slow. I could feel the pins sink into my lip, but could tell they weren’t getting deep. I finally gave up because I was applying as much pressure as I could and not getting anywhere. The first try barely even left a mark. You could read “1982″ on my lip in little blood-dots, but none of the ink stayed in at all.
Attempt number two:I did the exact same thing as attempt number one, but used a lot more ink, and thought that maybe once I got to the “all the pressure I can put on it” point, I’d rock it back and forth and try to get it to go a little deeper. The end result was a few black dots near the edges, but nothing that’d hold up or last. This time was also pretty excruciating. The design wasn’t that important to me — more the process — but I still wanted something to show for this pain by this point even if it was nothing more than a bunch of black smears.
Attempt number three:I’d learned a few things from this attempt: First off, velocity was just as important as pressure. The pins (42 of them, right around 16 gauge, and not very sharp at all) needed to be going pretty quick to break through the skin and sink in deep, but, that was a double-edged sword. Too quick and they could go all the way through my lip (they’re about 3/8″ long). I knew I couldn’t get it to go that fast into my lip, so I recruited one of the tattoo artists (and a good friend) to do it for me this time. They were all amusing themselves watching the fist two attempts anyway, so I didn’t have to go far to find Dave.
Another thing I’d learned was that the ink didn’t want to hold all that well, and there needed to be a lot of ink present to get it to stay. I decided to put ink on the pins, my lip, and this time put some ink on a piece of gauze, have the pins go through the inked gauze and into my lip to hopefully maximize the amount of ink that would be pushed into the wounds. The first two attempts also showed that the dullness caused the pins to stick in my lip once they were in there. Rather than have him smash it shut and then try to pull it right back off, the plan was to smash it shut really quickly, and then hold it there until I gave him the nod to open it back up, and I’d use my hands to help peel my lip out of the jaws of the pliers.
The big innovation that really made this last attempt work was my plan of not letting it go all the way through my lip. I mounted an old externally-threaded labret (they’re good for something at least…) onto the handle so it couldn’t close all the way shut. I played with different lengths until I got to the point where it would close to just over a millimeter gap. Once my lip was smashed down flat, that millimeter would be enough to keep the pins from going all the way through my lip.
So, we put ink on the appropriate areas, lined everything up, and I said “go” and the pliers were smashed down quick.
I won’t lie. It hurt. A lot. It felt like getting my lip shut in a car door, but with a nice aftertaste of a whole bunch of dull pins going into my lip. My only response was “goddamn”. We let the pliers sit there for a minute, I collected my thoughts (I was standing up so we could get better pictures, and I didn’t want to get lightheaded while standing), and gave the nod for Dave to open the jaws of the pliers. I grabbed each side of my lip and slowly peeled my lip off the pins. This time they were stuck good. There was a nice little suction noise as they all popped free. The aftermath really wasn’t all that bad… kind of a dull soreness, but nothing bad other than that. For good measure, I took the ink-covered piece of gauze and rubbed the inside of my lip with it really good, applied a bit of pressure for a minute, and generally just tried to get as much ink absorbed as possible.
I cleaned up my face, rinsed my mouth several times, and the end result was what I’d been going for. I knew the lines would blow out some, and parts would fall out, and it would be totally unpredictable as is the nature of lip tattoos — and I’m sure the nature of plier-applied tattoos. But it was obvious the ink was in there to stay, whether it was legible or not. At least for the moment, “1982″ could really easily be read across the inside of my lip.
My lip swelled pretty big last night. It’s bruised today, but the swelling is down. It’s hard to tell what’s bruising and what’s just blown-out ink. The nine and eight are pretty easily readable, but the one and two are really rough. You can tell what they are if you know, but they’re definitely not pretty. But this tattoo was not about beauty, and the numbers have nothing to do with the message, really.”