This might be a bit hardcore for some of us to consider at the present time, but I thought I’d introduce it anyway. I’ve been studying some indigenous tattooing practices, especially those practiced in the Philippines where some of my ancestors are from. Tattoos in the islands were previously a sign of strength, showing that one is a tough warrior that can take pain, and also carried local styles and symbolic meaning. There are small groups reviving the practice today. I hope to get a protection charm on my shoulder that resembles scale armor, in imitation of a style in which warriors were tattooed with what looked like chain mail shirts.

The preferred method of tattooing was to use a stick with three small points attached at the end for the purpose of piercing skin. A dye, usually charcoal and water, was then smeared on the area being tattooed, and the small wounds were made by tapping the stick with something to make it pierce skin.

For those interested, I also recommend researching Maori and Hawaiian tattoo cultures, which are of course both also Polynesian cultures closely related to those in the Phillippines.

Do any of you know of or have experience with tattoos that don’t involve electric needles? Tips to prevent infections?

All you need is a needle and India ink. That’s how I did the ones I have. They haven’t washed off in the last thirty years.

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I think put honey on it afterwards to prevent infections?

(OO did I learn something last weekend?)

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i have sewing needle/india ink and regular tattoos. i just use a basic anti-microbial/anti-inflammatory/vulnerary herbal salve on them. works great - never a problem. if i’m concerned about infection i would opt for a stronger anti-microbial salve and/or an oil based preparation of cotton wood buds/propolis.

before you do the tattoo wash/disinfect the area. sterilize the needle and wash your hands thoroughly. be mindful of cross contamination.

i’m interested in tattooing with devil’s club and goldenseal if any one has experience.

I made a tincture recently, 1/2 plantain, 1/2 yarrow. It already sits in an alcohol base, so I’d bet that would work pretty well for preventing infection on your fresh tattoo as well as honey, without making you all sticky.

The honey is not only to ward off infection, it keeps the area from drying out, which improves the quality of the tattoo.

Ah, well, that just shows how little I know about tattoos. :slight_smile:

i would not put an alcohol based preparation on a new tattoo. you need something moisturizing.

Yeah, I don’t actually know anything about tattoos; I just responded to what Fenris said about preventing infections. But if you also have to worry about drying out, then yeah, that would seem like a bad idea.

I can vouch for honey’s ability to prevent infection. Last year at wintercount I worked in the kitchen and spilled burning hot bacon grease on my foot. I had no shoes except sandals so once the blister popped i just kept a layer of honey on the burn. We wandered around arizona and utah for the next couple weeks. The honey would get dust stuck to my foot and so Kiliii and Shaun kept saying my toe would fall off but it healed up pretty quickly, leaving just a small scar. ;D

Thanks for all the additional information guys. Now I just need to find someone to ink me.

heey if you have any sources on indigenous tattooing that’s interesting (i mean more specifically) i’d love to hear, i’m strongly considering becoming a tattoo artist (and i can actually draw! woohoo!). although i probably will be mainly using machines, i’m really really intrigued by the origins and spirit of the art, as well as the ritual aspect… so if you know any specific books/websites i’d looove to hear

and yeah, honey sounds like it would work wonders. i’ve only got one, but it’s true you have to keep it moist constantly. i’ve used honey on my skin for other things… never occurred to me for tattoos. i’ll probably try that on my next one.

not to really derail the topic here, but what else can you use honey on the skin for? Like cuts and stuff or…?

i think you can use it for open wounds - i remember reading a long time ago they used to use honey on wounds like that because it kept other stuff out of the wound and disinfected it.

i use it on my face, too. i lived in chicago and it gets cold enough there that just walking outside can make your face hurt, so my skin got totally screwed up and dry, and it really does seem to help.

when honey contacts the skin it reacts to create small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. it also creates a seal over the area keeping other things out and the honey you should be using (unpasteurized, high quality) contains propolis which is highly antimicrobial. honey is also moisurizing to the skin and to the digestive tract. it is a good, gentle remedy for mild constipation due to dryness - particularly in the elderly. similarly, it can be used for a dry throat.

you can use it on wounds, infections, burns, etc. just make sure it’s good quality.

Ai’ve been seriously considering a small tattoo on my chin (admittedly in imitation of a tattoo used by various tribes in my region), but ai’m at a loss as to what plants to use. Ai’d like to get black and medium to dark green. Plants in the southwest region or common cultivars are apreciated!

I just got a tattoo a few weeks ago. My friend used one sewing needle, a bit of thread, and india ink, easy right? The honey was great on it, they healed in a week.

I was inspired and tried to ink myself. I now have a tiny dot on my leg. I just can’t hit myself with a needle hundreds of times! Oh well, gotta find another budy to do it is all.

i did my tattoos myself with india ink and a needle with thread wrapped around it to hold ink. tattooed wild life on my nuckles, a nettle leaf on my arm, and a bitty deer hoof on my wrist

i wonder if one can use a yucca leaf for tattooing. the point at the ends is really sharp, and the curl seems like it could hold ink… ?

Hey all, The needle and India Ink method is often referred to as stick and poke around here. I wanna see if somehow we can mount a needle on a toothbrush or something to stabilize it (they slip through fingers pretty easily.)

It gets a little difficult. Having such easy access to a tattoo system (like an ambitious rommate, a sewing needle, and a never-ending bottle of india ink) can end badly. But it seems really rad. I haven’t done it, but want to. Both mine ended up being from guns, but they were still very positive experiences for me… I’m gonna get a stick and poke some day soon, but like to give myself some time to let the idea stick.

In Somoa (polynesia island) they have a yearly tatoo festival, mostly with tatoo guns but I wanna see a traditional one someday. I’ve seen pictures of their tools, and the look like a shaft that holds the ink, which drips into the “needle”/sharp thing. It looks like they will (more or less) gently tap it into the skin, keeping it steady for precision, keeping tje ink flowing, etc…It’s rad. The designs are beautiful…