Oh, hi! I didn’t see you there!
Today I chronicle the beginning of the rise of my chest plate (sounds mega-epic, right? Like a PC point-and-click game tagline). Last weekend I journeyed down to Rockingham to TnT, to let the fantastic Mr. Bones do his thing on my rack. haha, that sounds grubby!
This tattoo has been a long time coming for me – I’ve been wanting a huge piece to artistically represent a shitty 7 years (2003-2010), and the beauty of life I found after bearing witness to the crap times. Being that a chest piece is so large, I decided I could get it done in stages, so whilst I haven’t drawn up the rest of it yet, I knew exactly what I wanted for the centre – a beautiful “gilded style” broken mirror.
I was a bit nervous because word around the campfire is that the chest/sternum area is said to be really gnarly, and they weren’t wrong! We did the session with me sitting upright in a chair and Bones sitting right in front of me, kind of leaning on my chest while tattooing. You’d think that sounds a bit awkward and uncomfortable, but it really wasn’t. He is a great guy and puts you at ease no worries, and it didn’t really register to me at all that he had to lean on the tops of my boobs because hey – that tattoo has gotta get done and its gotta be done right, so that kind of “personal space” crap just goes out the window. Plus, Bones isn’t dodgy or creepy so it was more like a doctor checking your heart or something. I realise that there is a lot of description of boring stuff in here, but there are people that read this blog for the tattooing aspects, and they are genuinely interested in what goes into a session from start to finish, so I like to paint a nice wee picture for them, and anybody considering getting chest work done, so they know what to expect. Having said that, if you don’t have a D cup rack like me, you will probably be lying down flat on your back. I prefer sitting up though, it helps me control the pain better and there is more stuff around you to look at, instead of the ceiling.
On and off the stencil went, a couple of times as Bones used a marker to find my centre line, marking it like a skilled plastic surgeon before a boob job, before finding the perfect placement. I checked it in the mirror and said “yes ploise!” and away we went (or rather, away he went, as I didn’t really do anything).
So here’s what most people really want to know: how bad was the pain? Well, for the first two hours, not even that bad. The parts on my actual inner breast where it was soft, were easy as. The parts in the middle were pretty uncomfortable, anywhere up that centre line was more than a little unpleasant. But I was doing fine, and felt a bit proud of myself when Bones mentioned that a lot of people really pussy out with chest pieces. I always have this issue with wanting to be a good client and sitting nice and still and trying to make things as easy as I can for the tattoo artist working on me. Side note: I was trying not to breathe too much as I didn’t want to move my chest!!! I can’t imagine how annoying it is when you are tattooing somebody and all you hear is them making little noises of pain, or wincing all the time. But anyway, I digress. All was going fairly well, until about two hours into the tattoo. The fan had been going for awhile, and Bones noticed that my tattooed area was no longer giving off heat, it was cool to the touch and as a result, my body was feeling the pain. Ever notice how things hurt so much more when you are cold? ie a soccer boot ruck mark on a frosty Sunday morning? Well, that applies to tattooing as well. It’s a hard line to draw because here in Perth it gets so goddamn hot and if someone is tattooing you on a hot day, you need the fan on so that you don’t feel like you’re going to pass out – but if it cools your skin down a lot, you’ll feel the burn more.
The really intense parts were the diamonds. There is one right between my boobs, bang in the middle of my sternum/breastbone. The other one is right on the middle part of my collarbones in the middle. The bottom one was like a hole being drilled into the breastbone and made me think of the scene in Pulp Fiction with the adrenaline shot and Eric Stoltz tapping on her chest telling Travolta to pierce the breastplate. OUCH. The top diamond wasn’t as painful, however when the machine was going over the bone, it vibrated through my collar bones and into my throat – weirdest feeling ever, and not very pleasant either. Lastly, the last half an hour or so, with the top layer of colour and then the white ink, was a beast. As if the tough areas weren’t tough the first time around, some of these bits were on their fourth attack and those asshole endorphins of mine had pissed off to the pub a long time earlier (they always do that).
So anyway, enough about the pain. Bones is a great tattoo artist and awesome to have a yarn with in the chair. He has lots of wicked historical tattoo stuff at his station and good stories to go with them, and was really intuitive as to the look I was after with the piece. I brought in a couple of magazines with reference to a couple of colour looks that I was after and that was it – he just did his thing and it was perfect! So if anyone is looking for a great dude, go see Bones – particularly if you’re after black and grey shaded work.
So that’s the finished first part of the chest plate – at the moment I am working on the rest of it. It will take a lot of nutting out and sketching, but there are a lot of different things I want in it, which represent different aspects of my personality that were born from my 7 crappy years; A cat (independence and freedom), a knuckle duster (toughness), a beautiful fan (adaptability and resourcefulness), a Pegasus (freedom and a soaring spirit – his wings carry us to imagination and inspiration), a pocketwatch (value of my time), a candle (making the most of something while it lasts), a bluebird (happiness), and diamonds, simply because they have such a striking aesthetic to them in tattoo work. I realise all of this sounds like a massive clusterfuck, but if you have ever looked at many large pieces, you will realise that all of this stuff can come together really nicely in the right style. And I’m super excited about making it happen!