The Tattooed Glam-Ma

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 08 16th, 2019

We first met Mo Deeley, the self-proclaimed tattooed glam-ma back in 2011 at the London Tattoo Convention. The following year, we spent a day in her life up in Yorkshire. We told her story in our second print issue. Meet her here…

Photos: Heather Shuker

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I started getting tattoos in the late ‘80s after my divorce, a whistling worm on my ankle and two smaller ones on my shoulder blades, but never anything more than that. The bigger ones I have now were started in May 2011, when I went to my local tattooist to have the small ones on my back covered up. At the consultation, I explained that I was unsure what I wanted, but if I was a little bit younger I would have a full backpiece with a theme.

I honestly thought I was too old to get a full back tattoo. I’m 56-year-old grandmother. However, Tef the tattooist told me I should do as I want and it doesn’t matter at all about age – I should follow my heart. And so he started work on the back tattoo, which just seemed to creep over my shoulder and onto the front of my shoulder.

_MG_0189This was never enough and I kept thinking of different ideas, which we sat and discussed together. Then I started getting tattooed every weekend, I absolutely loved it. I also became very friendly with Tef the tattooist, which always helps, and I completely trust him.

I suppose my tattoo inspiration comes from happy memories of my childhood and, in a profound way, the loss of my dad spurred me on to keep going. I just thought life was too short. My Audrey Hepburn tattoo I got in memory of my dad, as we played Moon River at his funeral and I think he fancied her a bit.

 

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I’ve got six children, and my son who’s 20 still lives with me, so he gets very spoilt, he’s my baby – I even bought him a full sleeve for Christmas, he loves tattoos too. At first, my daughters were against the idea of me getting so many tattoos and kept telling me I needed to stop. But now I think they are quite proud that I am who I am. They were very quick to state, “That’s my mum” when we retuned from London to find Things&Ink were looking for me on Facebook

I had been at the London Tattoo Convention with my Husband, Paul, and I felt like I was being chased by the paparazzi. I’m a nan of 18 being followed by photographers from the USA and everywhere. I had been to a smaller event in Liverpool, but that was when I didn’t have as many tattoos. People would look at me, but nothing out of the ordinary. But when I was at the London Tattoo Convention – it was mental, I couldn’t sit down anywhere without people asking for a photo with me. I felt like Cheryl Cole [this was in 2011]. This reaction took my breath away. Paul spent most of the convention carrying a rather fetching handbag and vanity case for me, so I could oblige people who stopped me to look at my tattoos and pose for picture. I loved every minute of it. It was my photo taken by Things&Ink at the convention that has turned me into a bit of a celeb and won me a subscription to the magazine – which I adore [We had a competition to win a subscription to our print mag, we got got people to pose as it they were on the cover of the magazine and Mo won! Of course…]. I have never won anything before, and I couldn’t believe how many comments the photo received on Facebook.

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After that, I got invited down to London for the Things&Ink launch party. As soon as I saw the Things&Ink launch issue cover, I knew I wanted it tattooed on me. I was just unsure how to incorporate it into a design. I told Tef my intentions and we set to work on a design. I think 2012 was an amazing year in my life and I tried to incorporate this into my tattoo. I also have a Yorkshire terrier to represent the amazing time I had at Rockalily vintage salon – they have a salon dog called Ellington – even there I was treated like royalty. I feel like it is a place that I just fit in, with my vintage styling and tattoos showing. I am also adding a wallpaper pattern to the tattoo, which reminds me of my best friend Pat – she has just put up some new beautiful patterned wallpaper and has the best taste in interiors. Pat’s home is lovely and full of vintage knicknacks, which I love.

_MG_0086-2 (1)My grandkids, all 18 of them and another on the way, live very near to me, and sometimes my granddaughter comes in to see me when I am getting tattooed, she loves showing me off as her nan. Don’t think any of her friends have a nan quite like me, and they all seem to find it quite cool. My grandchildren call me Glam-ma and always bring their friends to meet me – they all say they wish their nan was more like me.

I live in a small mining village, Maltby in Rotherham, and seem to attract a lot of attention – some nice comments, but mainly stares from people who don’t know me. People I grew up with accept me as I am, I have never really been one to conform to other peoples idea of “normal.” My husband says I’m a prototype not a stereotype.

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I love big and bold clothing mainly in a ’50s style, I am also looking into collecting more garments from the 1940s. I have followed every fashion trend since my teens. Tartan, shoulder pads – the works. I love shoes and they used to be my overriding thoughts, but shoes have now been replaced by tattoos. I think about ink all the time.

I like to spend time with my family and friends, and I am quite lucky that Pat likes a lot of the same things I do. We can spend a whole day trawling vintage fairs and second-hand shops. I also often pop and see my daughter in the fish and chip shop she works, she recently won the Guiness world record for being the fast chip wrapper, so she’s a bit of a local celeb too. It must run in the family.

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My life in a nutshell – born in a sleepy mining village, married very young to a mine-worker, with whom I had five children, which kept me very busy. I think I only ever really wanted to be a mum and love having my kids around me. I divorced in 1989, went a little bit off the rails I think. But my second husband, Paul, put me back on track. We have been married for 17 years now and have a son together. Paul’s my rock, he’s so placid compared to me, so we’re the perfect fit. He treats me like a queen and I love him with all my heart. During our marriage, we have travelled around a bit, but we always end up coming back to Maltby, it’s our home. We ran a pub together in Scotland, but I missed my family too much. Home is where the heart is and I am a very content and happy lady, even if some people think I look a little out of the ordinary. ?



Interview with blogger Pale Ginger Pear

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 08 11th, 2019

We’ve been following Cara, AKA Pale Ginger Pear, on Instagram for a while. She talks openly and honestly about illness (she has lipedema and lymphedema), being fat and tattooed. We caught up with her to find out more – spoiler alert, she loves Disney tattoos as much as we do.

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076B09ED-0C9C-4FA7-9FA2-F67A696A679FTell us about your tattoo collection. When was your first? My first tattoo was a tiny roll of film on my left shoulder, it was done by Tyree Patrick of Big Nerd Tattoos – he is the only person I have been tattooed by. I had it done in the fall of 2002 shortly after finishing schooling for photography. Pretty quickly after that I added a camera to the right shoulder.

In 2006, I added some CD artwork. Then I took a few years off from getting inked. Before adding my gluten-free baking logo to my right wrist in 2013 (I am a celiac). July 15, 2014, my mom’s birthday (five years after she passed), I got a Wicked Witch and Flying Monkey from her favourite movie on my left arm in her memory. I remember thinking the Oz tattoo was big! In typical Ty fashion, he started talking to me about my next tattoo while tattooing me. The idea of an Ursula and Cruella half sleeve formed – which eventually evolved into my Disney Villain sleeve. As we were wrapping up the Disney Villain sleeve, he asked “what next?” I mentioned that the only other thing I liked enough for years was The Muppets. Next thing I know I was scheduled to start the thigh piece the following month. 

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What do you like about getting – and being – tattooed? I love getting tattooed. I enjoy the pain as crazy as that sounds. I jokingly call it “ink therapy”. Ty has been a sounding board during many sessions about all the crazy DMs and offers I receive (one guy even asked to buy my pubes). Ty has also been great at helping me ramble about possible ways to grow Pale Ginger Pear.

I love how being tattooed makes me feel. I know my tattoos are pretty amazing so it’s an easy way for me to brush off people staring at me. In my head I justify it to myself that they are looking at my ink not my fat arm.

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Do you have any more tattoo plans?  The Muppet thigh piece isn’t complete yet. There’s a spot above Swedish Chef beside Bunsen that I feel there is room for another Muppet. There will be some touch-ups and background added too, for sure. Other than finishing that, I don’t really have any plans for more ink. I like the contrast of one arm inked and the other pale and freckled. As much as that drives Ty crazy to be “unbalanced” and not take advantage of all that great “real estate”. We have talked about doing a pear with a tattoo on it but I can’t picture where it would be placed. 

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You are very open on social media about your illnesses and your size, do you think instagram transparency is important? How do you hope to inspire others? I think transparency is important to a degree. I keep my kid and my dating life (for the most part) off of my IG. I don’t feel they factor into what I’m trying to show about lipedema/lymphedema. It’s nice to have somethings about my life as mine that can’t be judged and picked apart. I already judge myself enough for being a single mom, I don’t need strangers adding to my self doubt. I also don’t post my weight as I don’t feel the actual number is going to change anything for the person reading it. People carry weight differently so my number might look different on other people, but it doesn’t change my conditions.

I hope to inspire people, especially women with lipedema and lymphedema, to embrace their body as it is. There is no reason to not wear the little black dress while wearing your compression stockings or showing off your large upper arms, thanks to lipedema.

Can you tell me what having lymphedema and lipedema means, and how it affects you day to day? Lymphedema is where the lymph fluid flows down but, in my case, doesn’t flow back up from my lower legs properly. The lymph flow pools in my lower legs causing swelling. I wear compression stockings daily to keep the swelling to a minimum. If I don’t, my legs feel super tight, almost like they can explode. Lipedema is when fat cells absorb lymph fluid, damaging the cells causing it to not react to diet or exercise like typical fat cells. Lipedema is a dull constant ache. It also is very sensitive to the touch and bruises easily. It hurts if I try to sit in a tight seat where the arms can’t be adjusted.

When were you diagnosed? I was diagnosed in 2008 with lower leg lymphedema. It wasn’t until about 2016 that I was told I had lipedema as well. Then it wasn’t ’til 2018 that I found out lipedema was the cause of my bigger upper arms. I had originally been told that it was just hips/thighs/buttocks. Lipedema is more frustrating to me because there isn’t much relief for it, short of liposuction to remove the damaged fat cells. But most US insurances don’t cover the cost of the liposuction as they view it as cosmetic.

Does it affect you getting tattooed? Lymphedema areas can’t be tattooed, which is why my Muppet piece will be just on my thigh. Cuts or injections are to be avoided as lymph fluid will leak out of the opening and can be difficult to heal. Before I started my thigh 6D8DD8B4-E490-466B-9EFC-5CED267A500Dpiece, I reached out to some specialists in lipedema asking about tattoos. They had no real information or studies on it. Basically, the replies back were: “Not really sure, but if you go through with it, update us afterwards.” It wasn’t until mid-summer last year that I realised I had already tattooed on lipedema damaged area with Ursula. It made a lot more sense looking back at how Ursula was harder to heal and seemed to be “too wet.” My thigh has been really tender during the actual tattooing. My skin puffs and pinks up in the lipedema areas pretty quickly and makes it more difficult for Ty to see the saturation of the ink. It also seeps lymph fluid, which can be annoying.

4C5C3166-DE34-4E48-82BC-9F11F8FF1D62Healing the thigh has been interesting. There is a very fine line of just enough ointment to keep it from being dry and cracking and too much that keeps it too wet that doesn’t allow it to scab over. The lymph fluid can cause some deep scabs which are really painful and sore. Ursula and The Muppets have been harder to heal than any of my other tattoos but not bad enough that it keeps me from completing my vision.

There are a lot of fat shamers online, how do you respond to haters? I tend to ignore the hate. I believe that they are just hurting, so they want people to hurt with them. There’s been a time or two that I’ve responded if I felt I could explain something in more detail to them. 

What made you start blogging and instagramming as Pale Ginger Pear? I started my IG (and website) as the result of a bet with someone very dear to me. “Schmidt” had felt that I would get a lot of followers due to dressing well for my size/shape and having a story to tell. I thought he was crazy. We playfully bantered back and forth about it. February 11 2018 I decided to start PGP Instagram to prove him wrong and for the longest time I thought I was. I remember hitting 50k and his reply was: “So no followers…”

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I often hear women say they don’t want to get tattooed on the parts of their body that they hate, but to me, tattoos are about owning your body and feeling happier in your skin in a way you can control, do you feel that too?  I NEVER used to show my arms. I hated how different my upper arms were in comparison to my forearms. But now I get so bummed when it starts to get cold again and I have to cover up my arm. I used to hide my legs and rarely wore dresses. Now I find myself picking out skirts or dresses, so when people talk to me about my tattoos, I can show them the Muppet thigh piece. My ink has helped me embrace my size and condition, things that I can’t really change. I feel more me with the brightly coloured ink than I ever did before. 

We feel that too. Follow Pale Ginger Pear on Insta and check out her blog.

 



Dreaming in gold

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 08 7th, 2019

Alice Le Beau-Morley is a dreamy jewellery maker from London. I discovered Alice’s beautifully pastel Instagram feed sparkling with unique gold pieces one evening when I was scouring the social media platform for handmade earrings to upgrade my current piercings with. I was immediately drawn to Alice’s delicate, handmade earrings, rings and septum rings, that all looked so lovingly crafted and designed. 

Words: Rosalie Hurr

Alice in her home studio
Alice in her home studio

How did you start hand making jewellery? I trained as a piercer when I was 22, as I love piercings (I have around 30!) I hadn’t really considered piercing as a career as its notoriously hard to get into so I just didn’t think it would be possible for me. But luckily I was offered an apprenticeship by an old friend and I jumped at the chance. I’ve always loved piercings, jewellery and styling peoples ears so it was ideal, plus working in a laid-back environment like that really suited me.

I ended up working in studios around London for four years, before I enrolled onto an evening class at the Working Men’s College in Camden to learn the basics of jewellery making, this was back in 2014. I took the classes purely for fun, and there was a lot of trial and error, but it was always something I’d wanted to try. From the first class, it all just clicked, and I knew that it was what I wanted to do.

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The classes really inspired me, and I built a small jewellery bench from an old kitchen cupboard door and some mismatched legs from Ikea. It was very wobbly and I only had a few jewellery making tools. I taught myself a lot too, with YouTube videos and books. Alongside the classes I was posting some of the bits and bobs I was making on my piercing Instagram and people would comment asking where they could buy one of the things I had made. That’s when I decided to set up an Etsy shop, although I had no idea if it would work out! I was very lucky to have my boyfriend (now husband) who supported me for six months to see if I could get my shop off the ground.

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What inspires the pieces you create? I love going to folk museums and looking at handmade crafts. Although to me, crafts are something much more tangible and made for wearing or being used, not for hanging in a gallery where you’re not allowed to touch them! I have such a strong connection to crafts that have been made by hand, as the makers tend to use skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. I just love the idea and sentiment behind this. I also love traditional jewellery that is made using rudimentary techniques, something that you can really tell is handmade, is so beautiful to me.

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I’m heavily inspired by folk art, weaving and particularly Polish and Hungarian embroidery. I enjoy knitting and embroidery, and I think piercing and jewellery making are similar, I love anything small and fiddly. I can happily make tiny  studs for ears and lips for a solid nine hours and then knit for the rest of the evening. Originally I didn’t consider making piercing jewellery at all as I just didn’t think I would be able to do it by hand, but I spent a long time working on the idea and coming up with the labrets you see in my shop today – and I am really proud of them. People would enquire all the time and ask if I could make them studs for their tragus or helix piercings and I would always say no. I couldn’t figure out a way to make them secure enough that I would be confident in putting them in my shop. I tried so many different ways of making them and eventually I got there. They are so comfortable, super secure and have become one of my bestsellers. That’s why I love them, because I spent so much time working on making them perfect for my customers and it feels really good to have achieved that.

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With my own pieces, I feel so happy that somebody wants something that I have made with my hands, it means so much. I also try to support other makers too, that person imagined this thing and put care into creating it, it’s special to them so it’s special to me too. I also adore the wabi sabi quality to handmade objects, you can really see the touch of the person who created it. I feel like I value my handmade things more, like they have a little touch of magic to them. I hope people feel the same about my work.

How would you describe your style, do the pieces you create reflect a part of you? I tend to make things that I would want to wear, I love cute motifs like stars, moons, seashells and flowers. About five years ago I made the decision to only wear colours I really adore. Now I wear a very limited colour palette and everything I own is a cute colour, mainly pink and lilac. My branding and packaging is cute and colourful too, and really it’s an extension of me.

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What advice would you give to other young women who want to start their own business or follow a creative pathway? I didn’t go to university and I think there are so many more options out there today. If there is something you are already interested in fashion, jewellery or drawing, just immerse yourself in it and do it every day. Don’t underestimate the power of the internet, get yourself out there on Instagram, show people the passion you have for what you do. Be prepared to work harder for yourself than you ever have in any other job. Nothing compares to being my own boss and making jewellery. I have absolute satisfaction from mastering a skill and constantly building on it all while supporting my family at the same time.

Visit aliceruby.com (warning: you will want everything.)



Tattoo dilemmas with Blue

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 08 5th, 2019

When Things&Ink was in print, we asked shop mama at (now closed) Into You in London, Blue, to answer your tattoo woes and problems. We are posting some of our faves here as an ode to Blue and her wisdom. Blue now runs The Blue Tattoo in west London. 

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Dear Blue,
I’m writing to you as I am having a little tattoo dilemma. I have just turned 60 and I have two daughters who are huge tattoo collectors. Every time they come to visit me, they have new tattoos – which seem to keep getting bigger and covering more of their bodies. At first, I was apprehensive about it all, but I am becoming increasingly drawn to the world of tattoos.

So, for my birthday, my daughters have treated me to a voucher to go under the needle for the first time. This fills me with both excitement and trepidation. I have so many questions, will it hurt? What if I don’t like it? Will it be a scary experience. But, and most pressingly, I don’t know what I want to get.

I have had a few ideas, but my youngest daughter always puts me off them. How can I come up with an idea that really means something to me?

Thanks, Jenni, 60, midlands

Blue: These are questions all first timers ask. Getting your first  tattoo will fill you with all sorts of anxieties. My advice on thisL  take the plunge, no going back, no regrets. Don’t worry about the pain, it will hurt a little but it’s not so bad. Make sure you go to a studio you feel comfortable in. Getting tattooed is not scary at all – in fact it can be a very nice and pleasant  experience. A tattoo does not necessarily  have to have a meaning behind it, if you and your daughters find a design you like, then that is meaning in itself.

Dear Blue,

I’ve met a guy and am thinking of asking him out. He only has one tattoo, which doesn’t bother me, but it’s a quote from a book I really hate. Is this a deal breaker? How can I be expected to get past first base if I couldn’t even get past the first chapter?

Bethany, 32, London

Blue: Oh, that’s only a minor detail, if you like this guy don’t let  a silly quote get in the way. We can’t, and don’t, always like everyone’s tattoos. I say, go for it and just ask him out. If it works out for you, you can always get him to get more tattoos! So get past the first chapter and enjoy getting to first base.

Dear Blue,

My boyfriend insists that I cover my tattoos whenever we meet his parents, who he believes wouldn’t approve. Aside from the fact that I think they’re probably less conservative than he imagines, should I take the easy route to family harmony and keep them hidden, or be both more honest to myself and them by showing them if I feel like it? I don’t feel ashamed of them, so why should  I act as if I am?

Sophie, 25, Kent

Blue: I say keep the harmony and respect his wishes for now. Start up a conversation with his parents about tattoos to gauge their reaction. If they seem cool with the whole tattoo thing, let them know you that you like tattoos and have some yourself, then eventually you may not feel obliged to hide them any more. Good luck.

Dear Blue,

Do you think I should pay attention to people who tell me getting my partner’s name tattooed on me is  a bad idea? We’re thinking of getting ‘bro tats’ and while I do understand the cons, I feel that even if this relationship ends and turns out to be a mistake, it’s still one I’d like to remember. Am I being naïve?

Danielle, 32, Wales

Blue: No you’re not being naïve at all. I think you should listen to yourself, don’t worry about what other people think. Sure the relationship may not last forever, but you will always have the memory of that moment. You can always tattoo an X over the top, or
a line through it. Then there’s always a cover-up, if you decide it really needs to go! I’m actually a big fan of the X over a name! It’s always a funny story to tell…

What do you reckon, shall we revive our problem page? Do you have problems you would like Blue to answer, email hello@thingsandink.com



Practically Inking: a still life with tattoo equipment

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 08 5th, 2019

A still-life photo shoot with equipment used in the tattoo process…

Photos: Kristy Noble / Styling: Yvonne Achato

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Powder Beauty Boutique in Brighton

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 07 29th, 2019

We had a fun Things&Ink outing to Brighton back in February for Brighton Tattoo Convention. While we were there, we couldn’t resist getting our nails done at the gorgeous Power Beauty Boutique.

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Editors Rosalie Hurr and Alice Snape got their nails did at Powder Beauty Boutique

Behind a discreet door on Duke Street, you will climb some stairs and enter a little haven with warm and welcoming therapists who can do anything from nail art and bikini waxes to make-up and micro-blading.

Excitingly, they now have a room to rent that would suit a professional body piercer or tattoo artist. They already have a licence from the council in place, so are looking for someone who is self-employed to rent the space. We can’t wait to pay them a visit again once they find someone… especially as the room looks like a perfect – and private – sanctuary to get pierced or tattooed in… Just look!

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If you’re interested in renting the room either on a part-time or full-time basis, contact Rachel at rachel@powderbeauty.co.uk or give her a call 07899884170. Visit powderbeauty.co.uk, for more information. Powder Beauty Boutique is an established salon with a large client base situated in the heart of Brighton’s city centre. 



Search & Rescue Denim Co. – Tattoo Aprons made by Bad Ass Women

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 07 28th, 2019

Search & Rescue Denim Co.  based in Canada, create extraordinary custom aprons. Running since 2012, the Search & Rescue Denim opened their flagship store, where all the aprons are made in 2015. We chat to Sarah Bromfield, about the brand’s beginnings and how you can create your own custom apron…

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Bad Birdy in her custom apron

How did the company come about? Our founder Will was working in retail but had some sewing experience and a passion for design. When his friend Mitch Kirilo, a tattoo artist and owner of Vancouver’s Gastown Tattoo, asked if he could make a tattoo apron for him he took on the project. Once Mitch received Will’s apron it started popping up all over Instagram and more people started to contact Will and ask him to make them one too. At that point Will roped in his wife Jill to help out and started building the brand from the kitchen table where the aprons were being made.

What was the inspiration and vision? Will didn’t realise there would be a market for aprons and started by just taking the requests from friends and admirers of the original apron, but then once it started to take off he began his mission to design and produce the best quality aprons out there.

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Can you tell us about the team We are a small team made up of our production manager Joy plus her two sewers Keith and Lee-Ann. They are aided by Itsuki and Bonnie who prep all of the pockets and apron bodies once they have been cut by Sarah. Once the aprons are done being sewn they are finished off by Kirsten with metal grommets and rivets to reinforce the pockets and attach the straps.

Where do you source the materials for the aprons? Our fabrics are sourced from a local wholesaler here in Vancouver and our leather is all from North America and purchased from Lonsdale Leather, a local leather shop run by our friend Riley.

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Can you tell us about the process behind each piece? We have a very collaborative process here; new designs either come from requests by clients or ideas thrown around by the team. We all have our own aprons that we wear either in the shop, at home or during whatever creative side hustle we have going on – this helps us really get to know what works well and what activities each style is best suited to.

Has there been an apron order or design that has really stood out to you? There have been many! Because we offer full customization we get some really creative requests that are great fun to fulfill. We’ve had clear plastic lap pockets so a tattoo artist could read his phone while in his pocket, a recent holographic print that sent half the production team dizzy while cutting and sewing plus a beautiful split leg apron for a farrier with leather panels to protect from horse’s hooves. But probably my personal favorite is the collaboration apron that we designed with bartender extroadinaire Bad Birdy. It’s a buttery soft leather body (lined with duck canvas) but the pockets are all in this gorgeous matte crocodile print leather. The contrast of the different materials really makes this apron sing plus it has some great little extras such as the key-ring clip and towel loop which make it really practical.

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What sorts of people order from you? We get all sorts – from grandmothers who want a feminine apron for baking to heavily tatted up 20 somethings who want them to fix up their motorbike! Our store is located in a popular tourist destination (Granville Island in Vancouver) so we get a lot of international visitors who typically purchase an apron for cooking, cleaning or whatever their hobby is. But then we have a lot of local creatives who come into the store to design their custom aprons – ceramicists, jewellers, painters, carpenters, etc.

Are there any trends or industries that buy from you more than others that you’ve noticed? The business started off by making aprons for tattoo artists and they are still one of our biggest customers. We have many different styles of tattoo aprons from our minimalist right up to full length split legs. We also sell to a lot of barbers and stylists as we offer vinyl reversible aprons that protect them from colour or water and have places for all of their tools. After these two bartenders and restaurants are our biggest clients.

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How can someone order their own apron? Anyone local is welcome to pop into our shop as we’re open seven days a week and love to meet the people who are going to be wearing our aprons. We were an online shop before we opened our store so we have a very comprehensive website with all of our most popular styles and last year we launched our long awaited online apron builder which is the first of kind. Customers can build a 3D rendering of their apron by choosing the fabrics, thread colour, pockets, placement and more! This is really exciting for us and has had a great reception from our customers who have used it to get creative!



Sasha Nicole: The Black Heart Project

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 07 15th, 2019

Tattooer Sasha-Nicole works out of Gold Irons Tattoo Club, Brighton and is the founder of the black heart project. Sasha tells us all about the creation and inspiration behind the charity tattoo project and how you can get involved…

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The black heart project is something I created a couple of years ago, with the sole purpose of raising awareness and funds for mental health. Primarily the charity ‘Mind’. I designed a simple image to hold a word relevant to the client’s own experiences, whether that be their struggles or their triumphs, to display as a badge of honour in place of the stigma we’re often subjected to when it comes to these things. I wanted people to be able to be proud of who they are, despite how difficult things may be.

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I was going through a particularly rough time myself. I’ve struggled with a variety of things in my lifetime, and I guess I just wanted to put that energy into something positive and help other people along the way.

We all know that we need to talk more, and that doing so helps enormously, so the idea was to create a chain through these blacks hearts.

One person has a black heart tattoo, someone may then ask them about it, opening up topics that may have otherwise not come around, they may then tell someone or even get one themselves, and so on. When people come in for these tattoos they really open up to me, whether I know them already or have never seen them before in my life. The tattoo chair is a fairly vulnerable place and with this project solely based around mental health, I think it kind of gives people a safe avenue to open up and talk about it. I’ve seen people around town who have come up to me weeks or months after their tattoo, and they update me on how they’re doing, or tell me that their friend got one. I’ve had people from Brighton to Scotland get involved in this project so it’s nice to know that even a handful of people from different parts of the country have been made to feel a little better about what they’re going through.

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I generally advertise on my Instagram when I’m going to be doing a flash day, and then take bookings and cram as many people in as possible! I’m looking to expand this project over the next year, I won’t say too much now but I’m planning on taking it into schools (obviously not the tattooing element), but I want to spread the general idea as far as I can.

I get asked what word I would have in a heart on every flash day and I honestly still don’t know! I think I would probably have a blank one, just as a starting point for the logo and the concept, and then if people ask I can direct them to the black heart project from there!



Bold, feminine and romantic: tattoo-inspired jewellery

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 07 4th, 2019

Inspired by classic tattoo art, Maggie handmakes all her jewellery in silver and sets it with Sapphires – dreamy. Maggie’s small collection, titled Norma Kerr is bold, feminine and romantic. We caught up with her in her studio in Hay on Wye to find out more…

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do? I have worked as a jewellery designer and maker for many years in London and in Italy. Designing for costume and fashion jewellery at one end to fine jewellers at the other. I started my career working at Garrard & Co (the Crown jewellers) so I have seen all sides of the industry. I especially love the tiny Dickensian workshops in London’s Hatton Garden and the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham –  I don’t think they’ve changed in 100 years. In some ways, there are many similarities between the skills of jewellers and those of tattoo artists – working in small studios down a side street off the main drag. Somewhere you wouldn’t go unless you knew what you’re looking for, or are part of that tribe.

Where are you based and what is your workspace like? I live and work in Hay on Wye, one of the best places you can possibly imagine – it’s full of bookshops and surrounded by stunning countryside. The town is very small and all of the shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes are independent so the place is full of personality. Hay is a thriving town – which is pretty hard to find in such a remote part of Britain (25 miles from a train station and an hour from a motorway). There is a great quality of life here. When I am not at my work bench, I’m the Director of Development for the Hay Festival – but that’s another story…

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My workbench is on the ground floor of my house next to the kitchen – a jeweller’s bench doesn’t take up much room. Over the years I seem to have acquired lots of skills, so I can also turn my hand to making my own jewellery display pads – covered in beautiful dusky pink silk, lining the lids of my leather boxes so that my jewellery is really beautifully presented – like old fashioned jewellers’ boxes that are beautiful in their own right. I love that I have the skills to make everything look exactly how I want it to, bespoke and special. Having craft skills is such a source of pleasure, I can’t recommend it enough.

Tell us about your working day… My daughter Grace is 12 years old, so getting her up and ready for school is how my days start. I like to leave a little early to drive her to the bus stop, so we can sit in the car and chat or listen to music. Billie Eilish is our latest discovery. Grace is quite chatty in the car, I love that.

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When I get home, I prepare everything for the day: tidy up my bench, heat up the pickle (an acid solution used to clean something after soldering), make a coffee, then get on with making. The process starts with filing and cleaning up the cast components – components that are unique to me from models I made in wax. Once each piece is ready to be soldered together, I start with attaching the wings to the heart. This takes a big flame on my torch – these are big pieces that take time to get up to temperature to be hot enough for the solder to flow. Once that’s done – it goes into the pickle bath for 10 mins or so – I repeat the process with the ribbon, then one of the three motifs: sword, flame or flower. Next is the chain and clasp, once they are soldered on, the piece is ready to be polished. Polishing is my least favourite part of the process and it’s a real skill. I often send pieces up to workshops in Birmingham to be polished for a really stunning finish.

Setting the stone (Sapphire) comes next – it’s a delicate job and I love choosing a beautiful stone to set. When everything is looking fabulous, the next job is to send it off to the Assay Office – to be hallmarked with my makers mark and assayed sterling silver. Last is engraving, this is a specialist skill I don’t have so I work with another great craftsman in Birmingham who engraves the name or word across the ribbon. It’s a long process from start to finish.

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What do you love about the process of making? Is each of the pieces you create unique? I set up my workbench a couple of years ago after a long break from jewellery (when I turned my hand to become the Producer of Hay Festival in Wales and in Kenya). I did it as a way to help myself relax. I had forgotten what it felt like to make something by hand. How you can lose yourself in the process, the concentration it takes to really focus on the craft. The skills I had learnt, I had not forgotten. Buying new tools and equipment, sourcing precious stones, researching the best engravers and polishers, being a part of the trade – it does feel quite special. I imagine being a tattoo artist has a similar mystique.

The work I produce is quite unusual in how it’s made, I combine the techniques of costume and fine jewellery production. Each piece is unique and depends on the client’s choice of Sapphire stone colour and engraving – it is totally bespoke, in the same way you would choose a name or word to have as a tattoo. It is something that will last forever, something that is important and meaningful. There is a lot of romance too.

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Logo transparent backgroundWhy Norma Kerr? I am one of four sisters and we all share the same middle names Norma (from my Dad’s side of the family) and Kerr (from my Mum’s side). It was always a great source of embarrassment to me growing up – especially Norma, as it sounded so old fashioned. I hated anyone asking “what’s your middle name?” As I got older I started to like the names more (especially when I discovered Marilyn Monroe’s real name was Norma) and that we all four sisters had the same name felt quite unique and special. So, when I started the business, I knew I wanted the logo to be based on classic 1940s-50s style female tattoo design – I had seen in a tattoo reference book years ago. So, once I drawn my own version I called her Norma Kerr. Norma Kerr is a sort of alter ego, a kick-ass girl who sits on top of the world – a strong woman.

Are all your pieces inspired by tattoos? Yes, my collection is entirely inspired by what I think of as classic tattoo motifs; hearts, wings, flowers, ribbons and so on. I think there is a real affinity between engraving and tattooing. I like the idea of engraving one of my necklaces with a name or something meaningful that you can wear and then pass on as an heirloom to future generations. Where there is the story behind the engraving, a story of love, something or someone being commemorated perhaps – just as you would with a tattoo.

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What is your favourite piece you have created? Is there a meaning to the stones you use? Originally, I came up with three necklace designs; Love, Hope and Grace. The piece called Love has a sword through the heart – let’s face it, there is nothing more painful than love. Hope is a flame, a flame of hope is something about nurturing a spark, hope for the future. Grace is a state of mind, to be graceful is about beauty and serenity. The rest of my collection complements these three pieces – with matching earrings and bracelets. I use blue, pink or yellow sapphires in my work – I chose precious stones over semi-precious, there is nothing semi about my work, only the best will do! Precious stones are cut so beautifully the colours are intense. Jewellery set with yellow or pink sapphires is quite unusual too. I like that.

If you could be a piece of jewellery, what would it be and why? I would be a diamond – bright and full of sparkle!

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IMG-20190704-WA0010Please tell me about the significance of the Grace necklace. The Grace necklace is the heart, wings and flower design. All things of beauty, a heart is something we want to give or receive from our loved ones, wings – wings of desire, wings to fly free, to be a free spirit. And flowers – there is little more beautiful in nature than flowers. I love to grow them, have them in my house always they give me so much pleasure. And did I mention – Grace is the name I gave my daughter?

Visit normakerr.bigcartel.com or follow on Insta @normakerrsapphire for sparkly inspiration 



Hexagon Tattoo Project: Martin Dobson

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 30th, 2019

Martin Dobson is a self-confessed tattoo addict and owner of the incredible hexagon tattoo project. An enterprise that starts life as simple outlines of  hexagons that are then filled by various tattoo artists from around the world.  We caught up with Martin to find out more about his inspiring tattoo collection and the thinking behind it…

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What was your first tattoo and how old were you? I got my first tattoo when I was 17, yes I lied that I was 18. It was a tiny piece of terrible tribal flash on my arm, which has since been covered by a slightly less terrible tribal wrap around which I got a few years later in Thailand.

What inspired you  to get tattooed in the first place? I don’t really remember what inspired me to get a tattoo. I lived in a provincial town in the UK and in 1997 there was no one I knew or anyone I was even at school with that had a tattoo. I think it must have been a rebellion thing but I was just drawn to it. Something that 22 years and over 60 tattoos later I understand was the start of an addition and calling.

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How did your hexagon project come about? I travel a lot with work and a few years ago whilst on a long trip taking in NYC, LA, New Zealand, Oz and Singapore I starting thinking that it would be cool to mark each country or city I go to with a tattoo from a local shop. My first (probably bad) idea, was to get the logo of the shop tattooed in a circle on my leg, like a passport stamp. Whilst discussing with my wife this morphed into what it is today. My wife, Dawn came up with the hexagon shape so that they tessellate.

Do you go to tattooists with a design or let them have free reign with the space? No I give them complete free reign. We usually talk about their options and they ask my opinion. But honestly I love that I don’t know what design I’m going to get when I wake up on the morning of getting a new tattoo or even when I’m walking into the studio – sometimes even when they are starting the tattoo! It’s my experience and I think a universal understanding that you definitely get an artist’s best work if you allow them the freedom to do something they like doing or that challenges them. It’s been fun to see seasoned, highly talented artists freak out about what they are going to do in such a small space. All bar none have completely nailed it too!

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You’ve got some amazing work from some incredible artists, who else is on your list? My list is endless. With Instagram people’s work is so accessible, it’s crazy – my wish list gets bigger everyday. It also gets longer every time I go for a session and the artist I’m working with starts recommending their friends and peers. I’ve had to stop talking about new artists! I put out a post on International Woman’s Day recently asking for recommendations of female artists as I’m embarrassingly low on woman tattoo artists compared to men. I got over 125 comments with atleast 200 artists tagged, it’s taken me hours just to look at their profiles let alone start contacting them.

Some big targets currently are Filip Leu who is up for adding a design next to his friend Tin Tin’s but I need to go to Switzerland – I might just have to turn up on his doorstep! Nikko Hurtardo says he’s up for adding a piece but again he’s hard to tie down. I’d love to get something from Boris, Kahn Tofi. I have a long list of Japanese artists, but I’d like to go to Japan rather than doing it at a convention in London or Europe. There are a load of good artists in Korea that i’d like to get hexagons from too. Lastly I grew up watching Miami Ink, I know it can be derided in the industry but Ami, Chris, Darren and Chris are super talented and their show is how I got introduced to tattooing. Ami and Chris Garver have added hexagons and I have two spaces free next to them. Darren is visiting the UK in the summer and is going to add his – now I just need to get a line to Nunez and hopefully I can have them all together.

Do you plan on covering your whole body?  I’m about to extend to my other leg and do a full sleeve which should give me at least another 50 hexagons – after that it will be a conversation with my wife! She didn’t marry a heavily tattooed guy so I have to respect that. She loves the project and actually came up with most of the ideas but I’m not sure she’s up for a husband completely covered in hexagon tattoos!

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What sorts of reactions does your project get? Amazingly positive – I think I’ve been quite lucky and stumbled on a reasonably unique idea in a tattoo world that doesn’t have much left as far as new ideas on placement or collecting go. It’s even got to a point where there are a few people out there copying the idea exactly!

It’s amazing that pretty much every artist I contact is into the idea and usually fits me in to their schedules at short notice – even when they have long waiting lists. As I say I’m a lucky guy and feel humble that an idea that started off as a bit of a punt has turned into something that a lot of people are truly interested in and want to follow to see the outcome.

Photos by Dan Lowe










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