The Edge

Below are pictures from my 42nd appointment with Horizakura.  As mentioned in my last post, he began shading my left leg.  It’s so nice to have the peace and quiet of tebori back in my life.  I know lots of people who have a fondness for the noise of a tattoo machine, but after experiencing both, for my money I love the gentle plucking of tebori.  These pictures were taken a week after my appointment, as opposed to my customary following-day photos, because we are trying a different aftercare approach.  As a result, you will see a bit of dryness in the new work and it may be a little difficult to tell what is new and what was previously shaded during appointment 37.  This appointment also marks the first true “edge” of my tattoo.  Since nothing on my back is connected and my other leg and current arm will be extended, the end that was shaded here represents the final line of this body suit.  It’s an odd milestone to consider, but it’s a milestone nonetheless.  I love a good milestone.

It’s a little hard to know how much of an improvement the new aftercare is.  Generally, areas of tighter skin seem to scab less than looser areas (my jiggly thighs and fat ass, for instance), but all in all this seems to be healing more smoothly.  Instead of wrapping the tattoo for the night and then unwrapping and washing the next day, Horizakura used these large waterproof bandages.  I’m not really sure how to describe them, but I’ve included a picture below of what my leg looked like with them on.  Anyway, I was advised to keep them on for 3 nights, then remove and clean up as usual.  It feels like an improvement, but things can vary so much in the healing process, maybe it’s all in my head.  That being said, you should absolutely follow the aftercare advice of your artist.  Unless they are recommending rubbing dirt on it, they know best.

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Putting the FUN in Fundoshi!

After a 7 week hiatus, Horizakura and I were finally able to meet for an appointment.  After consulting my spreadsheet (shut up.), this is the third time we have gone 7 weeks without an appointment.  I could have sworn this was the longest tattooless stretch since we started, but I guess not.  It felt like a damn eternity, perhaps because of how busy life has been.  Enough calendar talk! On to the work!

Horizakura was beboppin’ and scattin’ all over my leg last night.  He added some cherry blossoms and waves to fill in the outside of my left knee and near the tail and head of the koi on my thigh.  Additionally, and this is weirdly the most exciting part for me, he connected the shaded portion of my thigh to the outline on my leg.  It’s finally all one piece!  The current plan is to begin shading this outline with our next appointment.  It will be nice to take a break from the noise of the machine.

Oh, about the title: in the pictures below, I opted to wear my fundoshi because it was getting a little tricky trying to keep covered and take photos without obscuring the work.  The fundoshi is what I wear during our appointments.  Mind you, it’s not a true fundoshi.  I believe the traditional garment is created from a single piece of fabric with no strings.  Mine has strings because the learning curve of traditional Japanese underwear beyond my ability.  It’s also easier to put on or remove as Horizakura works.

Not a Real Book Review: “The Japanese Tattoo” by Sandi Fellman

(First, it’s worth pointing out that I have almost zero credibility when it comes to reviewing books.  My qualifications start and stop with me being a literate, native English speaker who has read books in the past.)

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Lately, I have taken an interest in trying to find photos/books of older tattoos.  The impetus for this was Horizakura showing me his copy of “The World of Japanese Tattooing” by Iizawa Tadasu (published in the early 1970’s).  I only flipped through a couple of pages, but there were some very striking pieces in that book.  Tattoos that showed their age, not in the fading of ink or sagging skin, but in design and layout and execution.  I’m not at all a scholar on the topic, but what few 50+ year old tattoos I have been able to find have some very interesting differences from what we see today.  While it is really easy to follow the trends of the modern Japanese tattoo and to see how different artists approach their subject matter, it is fairly difficult to find actual pictures of the works of past masters.  So I started poking around the internet looking for older books on the topic.

“The Japanese Tattoo” by Sandi Fellman was published in 1986.  As it is still in print, it is very easy to get a copy of this book, making it a great entry point for this new interest of mine.  Sandi’s description of the project and how it came to be is interesting.  It seems her primary first hand source was Owada Mitsuaki (Horikin), but there are photos of tattoos done by a couple other masters as well.  Her essay that comprises the bulk of the book’s text is only a few pages in length and vacillates between a historic retrospective and a philosophical examination of the Japanese tattoo.  I didn’t find it to be too overwrought and even found real pleasure in the expression of her ideas:

“I left Ohwada’s studio that day fascinated by the profound paradoxes inherent in the art.  Here was beauty created through brutal means.  Power bestowed at the price of submission.  Delicate elegance attained by way of violence.  And… the glorification of the flesh as a means to spirituality.”

The same cannot be said for the Intro written by D.M. Thomas.  In all honesty, I stopped reading after about 3 paragraphs because it was incomprehensible, up-its-own-asshole nonsense.  If you ever pick up the book, take a crack at the intro and let me know if I’m wrong.

The photos in the book are different than I expected, but still a treat to examine.  Whereas I expected photos of full body suits in their entirety, what we get instead are nearly life-sized close ups of specific parts of a variety of body suits.  The results are as if you were to put your face about a foot away from a body suit and inspect the work.  It isn’t great for understanding the whole concept of the tattoo, but it’s fantastic for seeing the subtle details in shading and linework.  Additionally, each photo is accompanied by a small blurb about what you are looking at.  I found this to be especially pleasing as many other books are content to just give you dozens of pictures with no context.

All in all, definitely a quality work and I’m glad I bought it.  I do wish that I had sprung for the hardcover, though, as shipping damaged the softcover copy I bought and the binding seems a little weak.  Not that I expect much more for $20.  If I do return this damaged copy, I will probably get the hardcover instead.

https://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Tattoo-Sandi-Fellman/dp/0896597989/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516468829&sr=8-1&keywords=the+japanese+tattoo

A note for people who may be interested in cameras/photography:

The camera Sandi used for these photos is pretty unique.  It was (is?) a 5 foot by 3.5 foot Polaroid camera that produced 20″ x 24″ prints that self exposed in 60-70 seconds.  Literally a giant, 200 lbs Polaroid camera!

A Tender Tattoo and a Fickle Feline

It finally happened.  I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the day when we would finally tattoo the back of my knee.  That day was yesterday.  It was not fun, but I still think the ass is worse.  It was painful, but bearable.  Shading will probably be worse because it’s slower.  Horizakura worked on me for about an hour doing some inner thigh, inside of my knee and the back of the knee, as you can see below.  As always, I’m very pleased with the results.

When I got home, I was laying on the couch snuggling (wrestling) my cat when he leaped off my body and scratching me in the process.  You would never know I had just had the back of my knee tattooed as I grabbed my side and wailed and gnashed my teeth.  I guess what I’m saying is, if you’ve ever survived a cat scratch, you can survive having the back of your knee tattooed?

Bonus media:

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The blood-dimmed tide is loosed…

It’s a good day when you can work Yeats into a blog post title.  My final appointment of 2017 was a quick 1 hour shading session on my lower leg.  It was all light gray waves and as you can see from the pictures, it’s still quite bleedy.  Yes, I know bleedy isn’t a word.  If you want a blog that only uses “real” words, you can go elsewhere!  Happy New Year!

The Bee’s Knee

It was only a matter of time until I had to learn what it’s like to have my knees tattooed.  That is precisely what happened last night and it was just absolutely no fun at all.  Everybody deals with pain in different ways and everybody experiences it differently, so I don’t consider my take on this to be a fact.  That said, I find when we get to an area that hurts more than usual, I find the best method for dealing with it is to accept the presence of the pain while forcing my mind to focus elsewhere.  It seems to help for me, if for no other reason than it keeps my mind occupied.  The tricky thing with the knee, however, was that every time my mind would start to wander, I would feel my reflex kick in or my leg would want to flinch.  It’s hard to flinch a butt cheek, so I hadn’t had this problem before.  My mental gymnastics were rendered useless and I had no choice but to focus on what was happening and try like hell to not let my leg wiggle.  It was a blast.

What’s better than that? Knowing I still have one more knee to go. And they both have to get shaded.  I have made good choices.

Ok, enough whining.  It hurt like hell at the time, but feels pretty good now and that’s what matters.  Horizakura added some cheery blossoms and water/waves on my knee.  I love how kinetic it looks, especially when I bend my leg.  As always, I’m really happy with the results!  He worked really hard to get the waves on the inside of my knee positioned so that it would look good with my knee bent and straight.  Gotta love that attention to detail!  Two notes before photos: 1) I’m so swollen it looks like I have no knee cap. It’s under there somewhere.  Is there a such thing as cankles for knees?  Thiees? 2) I took a side photo but the door was in focus, not my leg.  I am too ashamed to post it, but not so ashamed that I wouldn’t tell you about it.  It mostly just showed where this appointment stopped and the empty space on the back of my leg.

I’m sorry this post was so long.  Photos!

Real Cool Tunes

Last night, Horizakura opted do a little shading on my leg.  Since the last four appointments were all outline, it was nice to get back into shading.  It’s so much more peaceful without the noise of the machine.  This was complimented by Horizakura’s music selection for that evening.  Normally we listen to different kinds of jazz (I don’t know much about jazz, so I’m not going to try to be specific), but last night he was playing this experimental improvisation by a guy named Marc Ribot.  I found a link to the exact video on YouTube.  I don’t really know how else to describe it, but it was really, really cool to get tattooed and listen to this:

Below are pictures from this morning. For some reason, my leg looks like it has already begun to heal.  Normally it doesn’t look like this until later in the evening or the next day.  The only logical conclusion is that I have developed advanced healing powers a la Wolverine.  Behold!