And so, today was the day! The day of the last part of my 40th birthday, the day on which I would do something permanent to my body, something that will (I sincerely hope) last for the rest of my life. I've waited until now because a healing tattoo means no swimming, so I didn't want to get it done during the summer swimming season.
We got up pretty late, and even fell asleep again after the first cup of tea. In fact, the morning pretty much vanished, and by the time I'd done a little cage cleaning, sorted out a few bits in my study, uploaded yesterday's blip and eaten my pancakes, there was just time for a second cup of tea before setting out to London.
The drive was smooth, and the tube was smooth as far as Notting Hill. Then the inevitable "weekend engineering works" struck, so we got on a bus to Fulham. Even so, the traffic meant that we were about half an hour late for my appointment (but we did call and let them know, and they were fine about it). When we got there, they said that everyone had been late today, so we weren't alone. The Wonderspouse established roughly how long I'd be, then headed off to a coffee shop to do some writing - we both seem to be developing a habit of working on our netbooks in coffee shops!
When I went into the room, my artist had already prepared the outline drawing of my design from the photograph I'd e-mailed a few days ago. We discussed placing, how much colour and so on, and I gave her the photo I'd brought along with me so she had more detail than had come out on the print from my e-mail.
Once we'd set on the exact placement (on the outside of my upper right arm and is about 4 inches long), she shaved my arm and cleaned it really well, then transferred the ink from her drawing on a sort of carbon paper, to use as a template. Then, with an INCREDIBLY steady hand, she drew the outline with black ink.
About half way through the outlining, I felt distinctly wuzzy (despite all my intentions not to), but they were brilliant, let me lie down for a few minutes, and fetched me a bottle of Lucozade from the shop next door!!! After a few minutes I was fine again, and continued to be so for the rest of the session, which was around an hour and a half.
After the outlining, she started to put in the shadows and some of the details in grey - even the purfling! Then the colour, and finally some white for highlights. I took several pictures of the little pots of ink, the machine and so on, and we also took several of the tattoo itself (this is one of them). Then it was safely covered with cling film to keep it germ free during the early stages of healing, and all was finished!
Then we got back on a bus, which took us almost all the way to the car, ate a sandwich in the car (for lunch, at 7 pm) and drove home, again smoothly.
Once home I washed the tattoo, applied the special cream I've been given, and put fresh cling film on it as per instructions. Tomorrow the cling film comes off, and it'll take about 2-3 weeks to heal fully.
And now my viola will be with me wherever I go! :-)
What a day! Many thanks to Villo and everyone at the Fulham Tattoo Centre, who were wonderful. I chose them on a personal recommendation from a friend, who's had a lot of work done there, much of it very personal and all of it very beautifully done. I was further encouraged by the sign on their door saying "if you are drunk or stoned we will not tattoo you - GO HOME". These are people who take their art seriously.
And apologies to my Mum! I KNOW you don't like tattoos, but I hope you'll grow to like this one even just a tiny little bit, because I think it's absolutely beautiful. It's a hard life having a 40-year old daughter who's decided she's grown up by now - rats AND a tattoo, neither of which are your things, but I love them!
- Canon PowerShot A590 IS