Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Tattoo!

When I was a kid, tattoos were for bikers and unsavoury types...definitely not for women, especially women of a "certain age"! My ex got two tattoos while we were together - and I wanted one, but was cautious. I'd seen too many people get "flash" (the designs off the tattoo shop walls) or designs that were ill-advised or ill-placed. I recall when I was a teenager, a girl I knew got a blue whale tattooed on her thigh. Seriously, an 8-inch tattoo of a whale - on your thigh?? Unwise.

I've thought about getting a tattoo for almost 25 years and have never done it. I've always known what design I wanted (a salamander in the shape of an S) and where I wanted it (right shoulder blade)...but never actually did it.

So why now?

I have often considered getting one to mark an event (doing the marathon, my dad's death, turning 40), but it just wasn't quite the right time. L and I were going to get tattoos for one of our anniversaries, and we just didn't get around to it. But I knew when I got him the gift certificate for his tattoo for his birthday, that he would reciprocate and get one for me.

It wasn't really a momentous event or a time in my life that is loaded with meaning. It was just...time. I'm 42, I'm at a good place in my life, and I'm happy.

What better time is there?

Anyway, enough jibber-jabber, here it is:

It's about 5 1/2 inches from tip to tail (the tail is an equal size curve as the top - in that picture, the roundness of my shoulder blade makes the S-curve of the tail look smaller).

I wanted a salamander because it's an animal whose image keeps popping up in my life: in poetry, in pictures. Also, it appeals to the two sides of my nature: the touchy-feely semi-spiritual side and the logical science-y side. Salamanders have been written about and depicted since the 16th century as mythical creatures born of flames or having an affinity for fire (nice obvious metaphor for surviving through difficulties). But they also secret a mucus from their skin that would have protected them when their homes - damp logs - were thrown on the hearth. Imagine the wonder to see a creature skittering out from the fireplace without being burned! Magic!

I wanted a really different look to my tattoo, not your standard black outline with colour. As I've done art all my life, I wanted a look reminiscent of a sketch, like one of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings. I think Leroy did an amazing job in capturing everything I wanted.

Oh, and will I get another one? Hell, yeah! I can't wait!

Do you have a tattoo? Tell me about it! Better yet, post a picture on your blog and I'll link to it here.


  1. When I was 20 my dad and I got tattoos together. I got an Irish Claddaugh ring on my left that I can show it when I want but it isn't visible all the time...

  2. I love it!! I really like the sketch type of style and the color. My niece has a paisley drop in a henna color and it is so cool. I have yet to take pictures of my tattoos. My first is a henna style done in blacks, blue and yellow around my ankle. My second is a sun with a snowflake inside of it on my lower back. Lots of color. Both designed by me and I love them. I do want a henna brown tattoo done eventually. Probably will be of my little guy's paw.

    Congratulations on your first tattoo!

  3. Everything you said about "back in the day" how only bad girls got tatoos rang true for me as well. I am 48 and I got my first one this summer.

    After a particularly trying time in my life I got a tatoo of three little birds (my girls) in reference to the Bob Marley song "don't worry...three little birds" It is on my right side of my lower back and it is only black with touches of red and yellow.

    I designed the tatoo and the tatoo artist was wonderful in depicting it.

    Your salamander is stunning. I love the color and it looks like a wonderful piece of work.

    Yah for us for taking the plunge as "big girls..." lol.

  4. Wow, love your tattoo! What an amazing piece of artwork too, it does look just like a sketch - kudos to the tattoo artist.

    As well as the heart on my thumb, I have a seahorse on my right foot - that was my first one about 13 years ago and I intend to have it re-inked soon as it has faded a little, I will also add to it and have soemthing curling round my ankle. My second tattoo is a flowers and leaves design on my lower back - I kind of forget all about this one as I don't see it, so it is often a shock if someone comments on it - usually only seen if I am bending over or my top has come adrift from my waistline :-)

  5. I love the sketch-look of your tattoo! Very magical.
    I've never gotten a tattoo - I don't even have my ears pierced - I have a terrible needle phobia! But I love the way they look, how they make the skin into canvas and works of art.

  6. It is an amazing piece of art. My siste rin law has a tiny green lizard on her hsoulder.

  7. Beautiful. I love the color of it. It makes me wish mine wasn't black.

  8. Just beautiful! I love the size and placement and ease of the drawing. I hope you'll be thrilled for years. I also identify with your long association with a particular animal. I have a bumble bee on my calf: B for my son Ben and also for my admiration for the beautiful, hard-working, honey-making, pollinating critters. No watermelon without 'em! Plus, they dance to communicate! How cool is that!

  9. Beth, how cool. I like tattoos that aren't always visible.

    Thanks, Alison! I like the look as well - black is too harsh on my skin. I would love to see pictures of your tattoos.

    Lesa, that is so cool. I love that yours represents your girls (I checked out your blogs - such a lovely family!). Thank you so much - I was really nervous!

    Kiltsnquilts, yes, I love the sketch-look of it. Wow, your seahorse sounds lovely. I like the look of flowers and leaves. I am thinking about some ivy now...

    Thanks, Emma! For a long time I thought I would never get one at all. I've got my ears pierced (twice each ear), but couldn't do more than that!

    Thanks, Jane! How neat - I like lizards.

    Thanks, Tina! I didn't know you had a tattoo - what is it?

    Thank you, Roberta! I think it will grow on me even more. That's neat that "your" animal is a bumblebee - bees are great!

  10. Mine is on my ankle, so that no matter how fat or slim I become, the tattoo won't get distorted. I took in a Japanese dictionary with me to the shop and requested this character that the dictionary said meant "passion" with a secondary meaning of "color". But I am told by people that can read japanese and chinese that it really just means "color". Oh well.

  11. Random, but I loved all those facts about Salamanders..

    I have been reading books by Mercedes Lackey about "Elemental Wizards" and I often wondered why she chose Salamanders to be associated with Fire Mages....I didn't realize there was an actual association I could have googled, just thought it was a writers whim.

    Ok, LOL now that I have hijacked the topic with some super geeky talk...

    I love the tattoo - its very nice!!

  12. That is beautiful Sheila. I'm envious ;-) I've got a couple of tiny butterflies on my lower back, but I'm planning a second one when I can figure what I want and where! I'm thinking perhaps a tiny lizard on the side of my foot, but I dont want to end up as a wrinkly granny with tattoos I can't cover up!

    Did your hubby get one too?

  13. Woo hoo! It's lovely, Sheila. I'm quite sure it won't be your last. ;)

    You can read all about my five right here:

  14. Awesome; thank you for sharing it with us! I love salamanders; studying herpetology as part of my bio degree gave me a whole new appreciation for them.

    I have 5 tattoos: a snake on my left shoulder, a Viking crow image on my right ankle, a large family crest of sorts on my back, a Maakie's cartoon that's told in 2 frames on my inner arms, and my memento mori tattoo that I posted about here:

    and here:

    A 6th is being cooked up in my head at the moment; I'm pretty sure it will incorporate my favorite animal, the turkey vulture.

  15. Hey, thanks, Bianca! I really like a backstory on tattoos. Love your geeky talk - I've read Mercedes Lackey!

    Thanks, Sal - oh, it definitely won't. I'm already thinking about the next one. I just posted on your entry about your tattoo, thank you.

    Tat, thanks so much. Nonsense! If you want another tattoo, you should get one! Besides, feet don't wrinkle too bad. ;) Yes, L got one in September - his is a symbol of chaos (arrows pointing out from a centre).

    Tina, you're a forward planner like me - I chose my back in case I ever get heavy again it won't stretch! I've never noticed your tattoo in any of your pictures! I can't view the link you posted. :(

    Audi, thank you so much. I've noticed your tattoos in your photos, and I love how they peek out from your clothes sometimes. I love the idea of memento mori, and that is a gorgeous tattoo. Do you design your tattoos or is it collaborative with the artist?

  16. An alarming research study recently published by Dr. Bob Haley and Dr. Paul Fischer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas uncovered that the "innocent" commercial tattoo may be the number one distributor of hepatitis C. The study was published in the journal Medicine (Haley RW, Fischer RP, Commercial tattooing as a potentially source of hepatitis C infection, Medicine, March 2000;80:134-151). Dr. Haley, a preventative medicine specialist and a former Center for Disease Control (CDC) infection control official, is exceptionally knowledgeable to prepare the study.

    Dr. Haley concludes, "We found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as many hepatitis C infections as injection-drug use. This means it may have been the largest single contributor to the nationwide epidemic of this form of hepatitis."

    Incredible. According to Dr. Haley's research you are twice as likely to be infected with hepatitis C from getting a tattoo from a tattoo shop than shooting up dope! With over 20 million Americans wearing a tattoo and growing by leaps and bounds we are likely staring down the barrel of a mammoth deadly epidemic.

    The study also found that people who get tattooed in a commercial tattoo parlor were nine times more likely to get hepatitis C! That's nine times more likely to be infected by a deadly, fatal disease. And Dr. Haley is not referring to "backyard-prison-tattoos" but a tattoo from a "sanitized" commercial tattoo shop.

    Did you know the deadly disease hepatitis C kills over 10,000 people a year? And sky-rocketing. . . Currently 4 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C and rising. . . And according to Dr. Haley, it's number one channel -- the deadly tattoo. . . Courtesy of your friendly commercial tattoo parlor.

  17. Thanks, Anonymous. However, "There is little evidence that hepatitis C is spread by getting tattoos in
    licensed, commercial facilities. Whenever tattoos or body piercings
    are performed in informal settings or with non-sterile instruments,
    transmission of hepatitis C and other infectious diseases is possible."

    Everyone who undertakes something like a tattoo is personally responsible to ensure that it is done in a safe, licensed environment.

  18. You finally did it!!! And I had to read about it on your blog!! Must become a better friend this year. :) Looks great Sheila. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

  19. See ya this weekend, Jan - L and I will both show you our tattoos!

  20. I can see we have a loooot in common dear Sheila! I'm clumsy (also known as the person who managed to burn an ear with a french toast... don't ask!), I used to play Magic with my brother, I absolutely love S. King and I even watch the crappy movies, although I know they'll be crappy anyway. I'm lonesome and don't have many friends, I dress having a "theme" in mind and designed my tattoo while in elementary school... I did it when I was 20, it's a blue sun and a moon mixed together, on my lower back, symbolic of my dual nature and a reminder to love myself...! Kisses dear!

  21. Dimi, isn't that funny how you can "meet" someone halfway across the world and find so much in common? That's so cool - thank you for sharing that. :)


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