Hamr Traditional Body Art Methods...

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Hamr Traditional Body Art Methods...

Postby Kaytoo on Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:47 am

Traditional Body Art Methods.....
by Kaytoo

1. Introduction:
2. Primary Materials of the Traditional Body Artist:
2a. Common Stainberry.
2b. Thorns.
2c. Reeds & Bores.
2d. Branding Steels.
2e. Blades
2f. Miscellaneous Equipment.

3. Site Preparation:
3a. Cleaning.
3b. Sterilization.
3c. Marking & Clamping.
3d. Positioning and Prepping.

4. Basic Tattooing:
4a. Special Preparations.
4b. Inks.
4c. Tools.
4d. Methods.

5. Basic Piercing:
5a. Special Preparations.
5b. Piercing Selection.
5c. Tool Selection.
5d. Methods.

6. Basic Branding:
7. Basic Carving & Scarification:
8. Permanent and Temporary Cosmetics:
9. Body Painting and Staining:
10. Body Art Removal:
11. Piercing Hole Restoration:

Though civilized science, ingenuity and lets not forget quite a bit of magic has made the application of artwork upon the body often a much quicker and less painful endeavor, for millennia the permanent decoration of ones body has been practiced, those traditional methods passed down over countless generations. One might ask, "why endure the ritualized pain and time it takes for exactly the same result?" To find the answer one must look inside, and determine if the alteration to ones own body deserves a test of self to set deep the meaning of the mark, one that most will carry with them to the grave.

All traditional body art should be a very personal choice, something that has deep meaning be it a recollection of the past, or perhaps an inner strength or even shame wished to be expressed outwardly as though a banner of truth to others. It often suggested that the individual being marked dwell upon why, reflect or even pray during the procedures....Yet be sure if you are just simply curious, just want "something" or are unsure, you may be turned away or redirected to others less interested or dedicated to aiding another in their ritual of marking.

Primary Materials of the Traditional Body Artist:
The traditional body artist will utilize quite often the very same type of tools and materials that have been used for thousands of years. In most cases there will be little difference if at all, as it is felt that to do otherwise would betray the true meaning of the experience. However, the basic tools in brief are the Common Stainberry, the Thorn, Reeds & Bores, Steels, and Blades.

Common Stainberry:

So widely distributed and having been used for millennia for many reasons, the "Common Stainberry" as known to most cultures comes from a medium sized bush that thrives in all vegetated environments. The berry though in size and appearance much like a Blueberry, to be sure are not the same. Though the plant it comes from is much different, the juice will be offensive having a definite "anti-septic" taste and smell. Blooming and fruiting in all seasons continuously, the berries will vary in color from whites (clear juice) in winter, yellows in spring, reds in summer, and deep blue in autumn.

Inedible by Man or even beast, they have no food value nor can even be used for making drink. The reason for this is that besides the harsh taste, the fruit is neither absorbed by the body nor is repulsed by it basically treated as if inert (though fungus, bacteria and viruses tend to perish on contact). Therefor it will not be digested, and it is said one if they filled their bellies with it would starve to death full.......However, the juice of the common stainberry is also an excellent antiseptic. Used also in traditional healing, it has in kind been used as a cleanser and wash for those things inconsequential if stained. The juice as said is often used in home remedies for cuts and scrapes, anti-fungals, mouth washes, sterilization and so on.

Though they have been used in fabric dyes, and as temporary cosmetics, the most formalized use since the advent of healing and cleansing magics would be in the body modification craft. The berries may be blended to generate a vast number of colors, and with the addition of simple minerals and other materials then rendered down are able to produce any hue of the spectrum to even bleaching of darker skin for inks. In kind they may be used as a temporary "bluing" to mark out designs upon by scratching through the stained material. Finally they work as a natural antiseptic for the work to be done, and insures due to being the primary ingredient that the work will not be rejected by all save Duessa.

The Thorn:

Second only to the Common Stainberry the "Thorn" is by far the most frequently used material found in the traditional body artists chest. Though countless types are used, the most common in the Third Continent are those of the "Lamentation Bush". Slender, extremely sharp and very difficult to break having a stone like hardness half its length from the tip, it is said various birds and other creatures will impale their prey upon the thorns making the bush a cache of ladder for collected food. The thorns have been utilized since the dawn of man for fine detail carving, dental tools, needles, fishing hooks, small game arrow heads and multiple thorned gigs/spears.

Utilized primarily for tattooing, they'll also be utilized to mark out patterns, mark locations for piercings, pierce small gauge holes, and make up the basic component for generating the wounds for the insertion of ink into the skin. Plentiful, they are considered a single use disposable resource unlike the rare and expensive civilized body artist's tattooing needles and small gauge piercing needles which must be re-used and re-sharpened time and again.

Reeds & Bores:

The Reed, specifically those of the "Naiad Straw" though countless others utilized are the primary tool of the Traditional Piercer. Though having numerous other uses to marsh and swamp dwelling peoples, they have found a valuable place in the piercer's chest. Extremely axially fibrous, while green they are easily cut to usable lengths then dried, and once dry simply sorted as size. Having an interesting 1:1 inside radius to wall thickness ratio (meaning the wall thickness is half of the inside diameter) making them quite strong, they will become quite rigid when dry and have even been known to be used by archers as shafts for arrows, and fisherman for simple poles even able to be stacked by slipping smaller sections inside the last.

Able to be hardened with fire then sharpened, the Naiad Straw will take on a sawtooth edge due to its fibrous nature. Cut perpendicular to the axis (civilized hollow needles cut on an angle), though sharp they are used more like a hole saw. Though hard, tough and somewhat forgiving as far as flexibility, care however must be taken when inserting the reed and not to be used in areas where underlying muscles might cause the reed to flex too much. If the reed shatters or splinters, infection will very often set in unless the stray fragments are cut out of the customer.

Like the Thorn, they are single use tools unlike the expensive and rare hollow steel tubes used by civilized piercers which must be re-used, thoroughly cleaned and re-sharpened after each use. Unfortunately just like hollow needles, it is the inside diameter which determines the ultimate final hole size. What that translates to is that the needle is much smaller in its outside diameter. Additionally due to their fragile nature, in questionable areas or those where cartilage must be penetrated, "Bores" will be used.

A "Bore" is a hollow tube made from any number of materials. Bird bones, brass, copper and steel sheet, various other hardenable woods, shells or bone, will either be selected for or rolled to size. The end sharpened to a razors edge though perpendicular to the axis, they will then have serrations added along that edge becoming true hole saws. Single use items just like reeds they're only be used where necessary.

Branding Steels:
Steels are any number of man made metal items utilized in branding. Though called steels as typically the majority of standard equipment is made of it, various other metals may on rare occasions may be used as long as they have the ability to hold heat for a reasonable amount of time (poor thermal conductors). Typically just long enough to move the workers hand away from the heat yet not so long to be clumsy, the tip being the working end any number of shapes or sizes that one could imagine. Additionally, one must consider the variety of shapes that can be determined by angling the Steel.

The less used type of brand is both expensive and inflexible. Typically purchased by slave owners or those having a number of individuals to brand with a common marking such as military units, the design will either be formed from a wire, cast, or a raised carving upon a steel block. Rare and retained by the owner, it is only when an owner or official has concerns for expert work to be performed they will have an artist perform the branding.

Blades make up the final aspect of the basic materials in utilized by the traditional body artist. Ranging from simple knives to uniquely designed tools having much smaller, thinner and sharper blades, and may even be designed to control the depth of cut, punch out particular shapes, or be more controllable and nimble then the typical basic knife.

Miscellaneous Equipment:
Additional Miscellaneous Equipment utilized often by the body artist will be that which is easily transportable and includes:
1. A reed mat to keep the customer off the floor or ground.
2. A chest to hold all of the equipment and materials save the reed mat.
3. Various wood and brass bowls for both mixing and rendering down inks.
4. Various sized sticks and leather thongs or twine to pinch up loose flesh and align it for piercings.
5. Heavy leather straps utilized when customers request to be restrained (or when fearing for your own safety.
6. Sharpening stones.

Site Preparation:
Preparation of the customer for the work to be performed is imperative. First off, the customer should remove any clothing from the work area and all weapons. If the customer is unclean, the general area must be bathed (meaning if say a nipple piercing is to be made, then the entire chest should be bathed). Then the next step is to remove any hair from the work area if dense.

Perhaps one of the most important steps is then to both prepare the area for marking out any work, yet will also sterilize it. Utilizing un-rendered Winter harvest stainberries, crush them upon the skin and cover the area to be worked on completely as well as one hand’s width around it using your hands to sterlize them as well. Winter harvest stainberries have the highest content of antiseptic agents. More so, with most skin types they will be the most contrasting even those of darker shades. Any skin the juice touches will be dyed a deep blue for three days until the upper layers of skin sluff off.

Marking & Clamping:
Once the area to be worked upon is thoroughly stained, you are then ready to begin marking out the work to be done. If a tattoo, brand, scarification or carving, use a thorn to scratch the design through the upper layers of stained skin to the fresh below. The scratches must be deep enough to show fresh skin, this will not harm the works ultimate result, and any errors made can be re-blued then re-marked. Expect there to possibly be some slight seeping of blood, however be cautious to not scratch so deep that you are cutting deeply into the unstained layers. Finally, the marks must be made with the skin in its relaxed (un-stretched) state or however the individual would best display the work as this will generate the truest design. Typically, just outlines and detail points of interest will be marked.

With piercings both the entrance and exit holes should be marked with the skin in its relaxed state. Once done the area is then clamped to insure easiest access and a correct setting of the piercing. Laying a stick on either side perpendicular to the direction the hole is to run, pinch them tight then lash them in place with a leather thong or twine. Then align the marks previously made only by pulling more skin through where needed.

Positioning & Prepping:
Once all the above is done, the customer should then be positioned in a way that will make them comfortable, yet allow access to the work. Considerations should be made to have the position tighten the skin if needed, or conversely loosen it. Consider as well your own position that you will be in while working and your comfort while leaning into the work area. Lastly consider how to restrain the customer in that position if required. Preparing the skin for work is primarily important for certain piercings and body carving. The site should be thoroughly massaged and kneeded to loosen and pull the skin away from underlying tissues to enable the tools to slip between them.

One very important note as to positioning. Body art is a very private and personal experience for many, quite often touching upon deep and intense emotions, sometimes even becoming something of a religious experience. While it is important to remember that this is their experience, the Body Artist and their work being the catalyst/key/trigger is never the less apart of it. Being able to sense how the work is affecting the customer is key. There will also be a significant amount of touching involved. Be it positioning the customer and holding them in position, preparation of the site, the work, and being able to comfortably do the work. To that end it is suggested that the customer be nude, and in that the artist will be in such close proximity they as well. In this way even the slightest of cues such as a shiver, trembling, jerks and so on can be more easily recognized by the artist to move the experience to a positive one possibly of inner growth.

Basic Tattooing:
Special Preparations:
Special preparations for tattooing tends to focus more upon the design itself and comfort for both the customer and artist. The design must be discussed, suggestions made, and then either the design drawn on parchment to be sure the customer is satisfied, or in some cases may be marked upon the skin to enough of a degree they may get a good idea of the final work. Any changes or errors made can be re-blued if needed then re-marked. Ultimately as well the customer must be positioned in a way that allows for their comfort to keep them still, yet also allows the comfort of the artist so they do not tire too quickly. The typical steps would be as follows.
1. Discuss the work and generate a design if one is not supplied including any colors or special inks.
2. Have the customer remove their weapons and armor and clothing.
3. Bathe and shave the area to be worked upon if needed.
4. Blue the work area using Autumn harvest Stainberries and your hands.
5. Mark the work to be done upon the skin.
6. Prepare the inks and tools.
7. Position the customer to do the work considering the artists position and bind them if required.
8. Begin and perform the work.
9. It is suggested that drinking water be on hand for both the customer and artist.
10. Protect the work and inform the customer of their responsibilities as in post care.

The last step protecting of the work and informing the customer of what they must do to care for it is critical. Though some scabbing may occur, scarring which may corrupt the work can be reduced with an application of Bear, Seal, Walrus, or Whale grease covering the area and a clean fine cloth applied like a dressing. As for post care the customer needs to be told to keep the area clean, and ideally moist yet with a protective coating of grease. They are not to allow any magical healing of the area, and should also avoid direct sunlight upon it for at least a week.

All traditional body art inks are derived or at least contain in part the Common Stainberry. Even those inks such as Mithril when mixed with Stainberry juice or finished inks can give the illusion of color (in that for every point of Mithril there may be five of the other). Additionally, dependant upon the added and rendered in ingredients, those with darker to even coal black skin types can have some rather striking and surprising results when the additional ingredients are “bleaching” in nature. Inks however do not tend to last long drying quickly and may not be re-hydrated. This is why most inks are made as needed.

Rendering: Un-rendered Stainberry juice will result in pale almost faded looking colors on shallow wounds such as tattoos (deeper wounds they tend to be more true). Therefore, the juice of the Stainberry must be rendered down condensing it to grant the most true of yellow, red or blue. Additionally, rendering will help bond the Stainberry juice to other pigment additives reducing risk of absorption or rejection…..To render inks, simply mix the crushed Stainberries and any additives into a brass bowl, and heat over a low flame until the ink has thickened to a more usable consistency. Once primary colors have been rendered, they may be mixed to obtain particular colors without fear of further rendering required, however addition of more un-rendered juice may require further attention.

Colors: The “traditional” color for all traditional tattooing however is always deep blue to black using only the Autumn harvest Stainberry and darkening additives in a rendered state. Considering that other colors are often requested, Blending of varied colors of Stainberry juice will produce virtually any color of the spectrum lighter then a deep purple (violet) however no darker then. To obtain lighter shades of the three primary colors Winter harvest Stainberries may be added.

Additives: That said, more controllable pigments as well as darker shades and bleaching inks may be generated utilizing any number of additives. Particular charred grasses added will be equivalent to adding black, various minerals other shades (sulfur, copper oxide, etc.), and various clays one can find including those bleaching will help generate any color of the spectrum often much easier then using Stainberries alone.

Only practice trying various compounds on yourself and various other skin tones will help you to establish your ink formulas. Rarely will other artists share theirs, at best offering just some brief direction to look into. This is why many artists have what they call a “color patch” upon them where various inks are tested.

The basic tool of all tattooing work is quite simply the Thorn. Though there are countless varieties used, by far the most common and plentiful are those of the “Lamentation Bush” (upper left).

Single use disposable items (as in sitting), a single thorn could and is often used to make an entire tattoo. The typical method for using a single thorn is to rest the heel of your hand near the work area upon the customer gripping the thorn between your thumb and forefinger and time and again drive down as though tapping. Though seeming the simplest method this actually takes greater skill then any other in that the depth of the strike is critical and will determine the ultimate quality of the work.

However, using a single thorn is quite time consuming for all but the smallest tattoos. To that end various types of tools have been devised to hold multiple thorns, and can even be formed to infinite shapes however the shape itself is best for generating a particular edge. The various types are as follows. Of note however when using any tool, the thorns must be pre-cut to the same length.

Blocks are palm held and of numerous sizes and intended for covering long lines or large areas in single passes. Hand made by the artist often to compliment their own natural movements the radius where the base of the thorns rest key. Essentially, it is nothing more then a wooden block with a radius cut into a pocket. Typical blocks would range from a single row to up to ten thorns wide and potentially up to 50 thorns long a column. Wax is often set in the pocket to help secure the thorns, and a variety of designs from additional wedges or even thumbscrews are used to secure the thorns firmly.

The radius is critical for two reasons. The primary reason being all of the pressure applied is transferred to only one row of thorns at a time. As the block is rocked, each successive row receives the pressure to pierce the skin allowing for less effort and better control. On 3 or less column blocks, the block can also be angled to aid in making radiuses of a line. The more radical the radius of the block, the tighter the curve that can be made.

Utilizing this type of tool is commonly called “Blocking” in a tattoo if larger areas, or “Cutting” in a line if a fewer column block is being used. Lastly, in that the natural diameter of a thorn demands a gap between points, the block will be slightly shifted each rocking motion to completely cover an area.

Combs & Jabs:
Combs and Jabs are hand held tools intended to be used in a stabbing motion. Typically, Combs (left) have a single row of thorns and no more then 15-20 (due to the force required), Combs used like a block having a radius set into the stop edge for the thorns may be double rowed, yet again would never be wider the 20 thorns. Gaps between the thorns and Comb may be filled with wax or wedges to secure them, or may be tightened with thumbscrews to grip the thorns pinching them between two side plates (normally with leather to compensate for size differences. Typically combs are held under-handed and are not guided utilizing the heel of the hand against the subject to control the motion though may also be held over-handed with no guide.

Jabs are typically narrow and long in construction. Usually no more then roughly 3-6 thorns in width, they are utilized by resting the free hand or forearm against the customer using it as a rest or guide, the opposite hand gripping the Jab over-handed, and thrusting the thorns into the work. Jabs above all other types of tools may utilize shapes to fill particular areas exactly. Jabs utilize a variety of methods to secure the thorns in place. However, one must always be careful to not use too many thorns in that it may become too difficult to pierce the skin.

Tapping Forks:
Tapping forks are longer handled tools held over-hand far behind the work end. Thorns are set using a variety of methods to secure them, and then lightly set to the work. Another stick is then utilized to strike the fork between the hand and the thorns to generate the motion. The hand holding the Fork is used both to reposition it, as well as help the tip pull the thorns back out. Generally not as common as other methods in that beside the skill required tends to take more time. However, due to the sharp strikes and withdrawal, tends to be less painful so may be used with more delicate customers.

Perhaps the best way to describe use of the tools involved in tattooing would be through a verbal example. Know however artistic aspects such as how to shade, shadow and so on are those that simply need to be developed by the artist themselves through practice (of which working on fresh animal skins can be of great help). However a simple tattoo may go as follows.

After all the discussions and rough designs have been performed, the customer undressed and cleaned, tools and inks prepared, the next step would be to apply the outline of the design and major detail reference points to the skin. After bluing, the designs outline should be scratched into the skin using a single thorn with the customer and skin area in a relaxed state. Once finished, the customer would be positioned for the work to begin.

Utilizing a 3 or less column block, the longer outlines should be marked along the scratched lines. Dependant upon the radius of the block’s backing, certain radiuses can also be made. Tighter radiuses may require a second block or short comb, however one should not use jabs with precise matching radiuses as typically the ends may not match up. Dipping the thorns into the ink then setting the block to its leading row of thorns, roll or rock it the full length. Then shifting it slightly to make the next set of piercings butt up to the last, rock the block back, then most likely a third time as well shifting again. The result should resemble a long solid cut or wound. Immediately after dip your thumb or finger into the ink and rub it into the wound its full length. It is that final step that really sets the ink in place, the tool more to make the wound to set it into.

Connecting up smaller radiuses should be done with a single thorn. Gripping the thorn between your thumb and forefinger, rest the heel of the hand upon the customer to steady its swing or motion, and curl the pinkie under to help control depth of the strike. Though the thorn will be lifted above the skins surface, there is no need to raise it high, instead force used verses speed to press the thorn into the skin. Naturally as before always followed by pressing in more ink. Once the outlining and major features have been finished matching the scratches, this is a good point to stop work if it is to be performed in multiple sessions. To demonstrate the other tools however read on.

Large areas of solid color or even shading can then be performed with subsequent blocks. Keeping in mind the block must be smaller in size then the design, simply repeat the above though instead of long sweeping lines it will be more of filling in sections with wider lines (up to 10 thorns wide) and are typically shorter. Imagine filling in squares if you will. The more the block is shifted, the darker/more filled the area will be. Re-dip the tool each mark. The adding of ink with the thumb can also help control the amounts for shading.

Combs may be utilized to make longer sections of finer detail. Things such as multiple scale chevrons can be applied in such a way. Combs are utilized by gripping the tool so the thorn end is at the little finger’s end. Resting the wrist upon the customer the thorns should be driven in by short stabbing motions if squared, or a slight rocking motion if it has a radius. Again it is more force then motion that is used to apply the work as that will help maintain control. As always follow with pressing in more ink. Re-dip the tool each mark.

Jabs are intended for very fine detail short of using a single thorn. Resting the opposite hand or forearm on the customer, rest the jab upon knuckles, edge of hand, wrist or forearm and holding the tool over handed (thorns thumb end) drive the thorns straight into the skin piercing it again and again as needed. This tool above those above utilizes more motion to generate the force and requires practice to obtain the skill to strike your mark (hence are often used to color fill areas where precision is not as important). Press in more ink as needed re-dipping the tool often.

Tapping Forks though used by some for all work be it lines, shading or filled areas are really not as quick as other available tools so have fallen out of favor. To use a tapping fork, dip the thorns in ink setting them to the spot to be marked yet gripping the tool as far back as possible over handed with the less dominant hand loosely with most of the pressure between the thumb and forefinger. Holding a tapping stick, strike the tool just behind the head holding the thorns, allowing the strike to drive the thorns into the skin. The natural tension of the forefinger and skin squeezing out the thorns due to their taper should instantly free it. Readjust the position as needed, and with practice it will be a constant tapping and repositioning. More then any other tool, the pressing in of ink is important here as a number of strikes will be made then the ink added.

When finished, remind the customer about keeping the wound clean, cover it in bear or similar grease, and dress it with a fine cloth to keep it moist reminding the customer they should as well also avoiding sunshine and anything else which might dry the skin.

(To be continued……..)

"Call me savage, and you're only telling me how much you have forgotten of the natural world, and the nature of minds."
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