It’s safe to say that I’m no stranger to tattoos; I would never class myself as heavily tattooed, as I have lots of smaller random pieces, but I have lost count of how many hours I’ve been sat in that chair for. This was my first experience getting tattooed by the lovely Tori at The Crow Quill in Southampton (I’m normally tattooed by her colleague, Ash). It was also my first big, heavily detailed, colour piece. I was so excited to finally be getting a beautiful flamingo tattooed on my body, but at the same time I was also worried. Thighs are quite a nice area to get tattooed (and believe me when I say that, as I actually hate getting tattooed) but I was still anxious about how long I would last once we started layering the colour in there.
As usual, I was greeted by Kaye, the body piercer/receptionist/phone answerer/tea maker. The atmosphere is truly wonderful in The Crow Quill. It’s super laid back and everyone is so friendly, whether you’re a regular client or it’s your first visit, you’re treated exactly the same. I chatted away while Tori set up her station and made the stencil, with Kaye commenting on how many consent forms they must have with my name on!
The first couple of hours flew by. I was genuinely so relaxed sat in that chair as I chatted away to everyone. But the relief was short lived when all of a sudden my defense walls came clattering up and each little line felt like a burning poker being dragged across my fragile skin. That’s the thing about hugely detailed pieces – it’s not just a case of colouring the skin in. You have to do a layer of pink, then a layer of peach, then a layer of white, all over the same small patch of skin which becomes increasingly sore and sensitive with each layer. Bactine was my life saver here! For anyone who has never heard of Bactine, or used it, it is amazing stuff. I’m not actually sure of the exact science behind it but it basically constricts the blood vessels slightly and creates a slight numbing effect. It has to be applied onto broken skin and then wrapped up nice and tight and left for ten minutes or so. Although I will vouch for how amazing this green stuff is, it can be quite hit and miss; sometimes it will numb you completely, but sometimes you can have been wrapped up in the stuff for a good half an hour and it won’t make the blindest bit of difference! When it work, however – oh boy, it really works!
As the four hour mark began approaching, my leg was becoming increasingly sensitive to the needles’ touch. I will point out now that I never once felt pressured to continue. Tori had booked out her entire day for me (11am until 6pm) but there was never any mention of having to carry on all day. I lost count of how many times she apologised for hurting me, even though I was literally paying her to do this to me! This is, in my opinion, yet another thing that marks The Crow Quill as outstanding in comparison to other studios; they have real empathy for their clients.
On this first session, I got about half way through the tattoo. The next session was a month later and, annoyingly, I still didn’t manage to complete it, having made Tori stop touching me approximately three hours in when the Bactine was doing absolutely nothing. I’m booked in to finish it off on August 18th, and I can’t wait! I can’t wait to have this beautiful piece completed, but I also can’t wait to never experience that kind of pain again! Saying that, I know wholeheartedly that this won’t be the last time Tori tattoos me – the pain is completely worth it to have her talent portrayed on your skin forever.
As well as the actual tattooing experience being completely different to my usual dotwork tattoos, the healing process was too. I normally dry heal my tattoos, but Tori recommended wet healing my flamingo due to the amount of detail within the piece. It is widely debated which healing method is better, with most people opting for wet healing having the best healing effects, however dry healing has always been my preferred method of healing and my pieces have always turned out wonderfully and without needed touch ups. However, I took Tori’s advice, and began to wet heal. Safe to say, wet healing does not agree with my body. Every time I wrapped my leg, within half an hour or so I was in agony and the skin around the tattoo was red raw, inflamed, and burning to the touch. I know it was the wrapping, because when I removed the wrap, within half an hour the pain and redness subsided dramatically. I did try to persevere and took ibuprofen for the swelling, kept my leg elevated and used cold compresses, but nothing worked, and it was honestly so much more painful than the actual tattoo! The worst part was standing up after being stood or laid for a period of time; it felt like I could feel every drop of blood racing to the area and like someone had pressed a burning iron against my skin. So I came to the conclusion that I needed to listen to my body and accept that wet healing was not for me, and to go back to healing in the familiar way. Once I began dry healing, the pain calmed down dramatically and turned into more of a sensitivity than an actual pain, similar to the feeling of minor sunburn.
I would wash my tattoo with Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Foaming Face Wash (£4.19, Boots) to get rid of any slimy residue that had leaked out of the tattoo. This is actually the same product the artists use to wash fresh tattoos in the studio. It’s actually really cooling on the skin! I would then apply After Inked tattoo lotion (£15.00, bought from the studio) all over the tattoo. This lotion has no harsh chemicals or man-made ingredients and is paraben free, fragrance free, gluten free and non-petroleum based. It is also dermatologically tested and non-allergenic. Once I saw my skin changing, I stopped using the After Inked as it was no longer a fresh wound. The main issue I had at this stage was dryness, so I used Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion (£7.89, Boots) to help with the hydration levels in my skin. Overall, the tattoo healed quickly (and rather painlessly once I stopped wrapping it) and has stayed at the same high quality as when it was fresh.
I am so ecstatic with my tattoo and cannot wait for it to be completely. Watch this space for a final update!
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|The Crow Quill|
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