A couple weeks ago I finally went under the tattoo machine. Holly Ellis of Idle Hand Tattoo inflicted 4.5 hours of art on my ribs. The image, a portrait of my mom and Ellis' version of bamboo painting, is rendered in black and grey and begins just below my hip bone and it extends to just under the armpit.
The experience was as expected. It had its moments. For the most part it feels like hundreds of bee stings, each drawn out a length at a time. At it's most agonizing, it resembled how it might feel to have someone drill into your ribcage with a Mikita. At it's easiest, it felt like a pleasant scratch drawn lightly across the back.
Overall, I'd say I wouldn't choose the ribs for my next piece, but now thinking back to the experience, I can't say I remember the pain all that much.
I can tell you that once the pain is over, comes something I consider to be worse than the acute sting of the machine. The itch. So far, the relentless itch of healing flesh has been consistent over the last two weeks. Scratching is bad. Slapping only somewhat works. Lubricating with unscented lotion works for about a minute. Only now is it starting to mellow. But my fear is that it will always itch a bit. I hope not, but after the past two weeks, it seems like it'll never stop.
The tattoo looks great. It fits my body perfectly. My fiance, at first apprehensive about the concept, took one look and declared her love for it. My brother is stoked with its likeness to mom.
Me, I love having it. It looks cool. It is meaningful. It's well done.
A few more hours of pain, and it'll be finished. I'll post pics when it's done.