Previous - Next Page 

1.2.12 Review of Second paragraph in sub-section Techniques used in tattooing and body piercing

1.3.12 Commentary on Techniques. The sentences are numbered for easy of reference, they do not occur numbered in the original text.

Techniques used in tattooing and body piercing paragraph 12

[1] With the exception of the advent of the ear-piercing gun (a specifically designed tool for the piercing of the ear lobes with pre-packed pre-sterilized jewellery), the equipment utilized in skilled body piercing has gone little beyond the equivalent of forceps, clamps and needles. [2] It is however true to say that the materials used in the production of the “needles” for both tattooing and body piercing have varied over time and across cultures – from thorns, bone and ivory, to wood and metal. [3] For tattooing the shift away from simply using “raw” needles for “manual” tattooing (such as blades of stone bamboo glass and bone to nick the skin or groups of needles of the same materials hammered into the skin) came towards the end of the 19th century in New York when American tattooist Samuel O’Reilly patented the dermograph – an electric tattooing device descending from Thomas Edison’s stencil pen and autographic printer. [4] Improvements aiming to perfect these early mechanical techniques produced a machine which electrically/etectromagnetically vibrated a number of needles, but overheating and imprecision ended the use of such rotary systems in most countries. [5] The system most widely used today in industrialized nations, albeit with a variety of makes and models, is one introduced in 1929 by Percy Waters. [6] Using coils connected to a needle assembly and contact breaker, the foot operated machine is comprised of two plated screws as contacts, a latch, and a return spring and is capable of producing 3,000-5,000 needle insertions per minute (di Folco, 2004). [7] Depending upon the work, needles (arranged from one for delicate work to around 13 for broad shading) are arranged in rake: comb: or circular patterns and the tattoo is built up through stages of design; stenciling (unless the artist works freehand); outlining; black shading; and finally colouring.

This material is copied from di Folco including his errors.

Chalmers Sentence [1] is about piercing.

With the exception of the advent of the ear-piercing gun (a specifically designed tool for the piercing of the ear lobes with pre-packed pre-sterilized jewellery), the equipment utilized in skilled body piercing has gone little beyond the equivalent of forceps, clamps and needles.  [2] It is however true to say that the materials used in the production of the “needles” for both tattooing and body piercing have varied over time and across cultures – from thorns, bone and ivory, to wood and metal.

Chalmers is basically filling space for lack of substance. The tools mentioned for piercing: "forceps, clamps and needles" are modern.  It is like saying the technology of getting people into space over time and across cultures has hardly progressed beyond rockets. Modern piercing tools are used because modern doctors use them: state of the art for technique and safety. I remind the reader, prior to Jim Ward and Fakir Mustafa there was no “piercing” movement, there were no modern skilled body piercers.

Chalmers' sentence [2] is about needles.

It is however true to say that the, materials used in the production of the “needles” for both tattooing and body piercing have varied over time and across cultures – from thorns, bone and ivory, to wood and metal.

It needs to be pointed out that when ships arrived in the Pacific, the introduction of metal created a “seismic” shift in culture (Mau Moko) if did not have a pronounced effect on tattoo because tattoo was being destroyed.

Chalmers

(such as blades of stone bamboo glass and bone to nick the skin or groups of needles of the same materials hammered into the skin)

 “Blades” refer to chisel-shape implements used in Aotearoa, New Zealand, which created Maori moko. Metal makes grouping needles together possible, but for tattoo. Piercing does not group needles together. 

But the focus is wrong. It is not the needles in tattoo but the transition from hand poking to electric tattooing at the turn of the century. Gus Wagner of Ohio, no relation to Charlie Wagner of New York, continued using hand poking well into the 20th century whereas Electric Tattooing was proudly advertised by most other tattooists.

In the O’Reilly rotary tattoo machine the needles are not vibrated but go up and down, the bar holding the needle being attached at a point on a wheel making the eye of the needle go around in a circle, the needle points portion being constrained inside a small diameter tube at the opposite end forcing the needles to go up and down. The O’Reilly machine was not abandoned because of overheating or imprecision as di Folco writes. Chalmers' only source for technology. They were made obsolete by the coil machine mentioned in sentence. [5]

Sentences 4 and 5 make it sound like O’Reilly’s tattoo machine, patented in 1871, was abandoned until Percy Waters introduced his design in 1929. However, only relying on di Folco she missed the second most important chapter, the development of the coil machine patented by Charlie Wagner in 1904. If Chalmers had looked at photos from that era she would have seen the coil machines in the hands of tattooists. That’s one of the problems with little background in a subject: you get no sense of when something doesn’t fit.

Chalmers' Sentence [6] describes a tattoo machine copied from di Folco.

Using coils connected to a needle assembly and contact breaker, the foot operated machine is comprised of two plated screws as contacts, a latch, and a return spring and is capable of producing 3,000-5,000 needle insertions per minute (di Folco, 2004).

Listing some prominent parts of a tattoo machine is not edifying. No one could draw nor understand this machine from Chalmers' description.

First of all, the coils are not connected to the needle assembly the way it sounds. The description shows no clear idea of a tattoo machine therefore the opportunity to describe the functioning of the machine, the important advancement is overlooked; instead, a miscellaneous list of parts.

The function made the difference: the needles are attached to a bar and spring positioned above a set of magnetic coils. When the foot switch is depressed the electricity flows, the coils become magnetized which pulls the needle/spring/armature down. As soon as the needles are pulled down, the electric contact is broken, the machine turns off and the needles, because of the spring, return to their starting position above the coils.

Imagine a children’s see-saw, the plank itself as the spring/armature. One person sitting on the left would be the device holding the needles which would extend from the person down to the ground. The coils would be on the ground beneath that half of the see-saw. The spring, the other leg of the see-saw, is heavier so without electricity it always causes the needle end to go up in the air. The contact can be imagined as a branch above the see-saw. The branch is in such a position that it touches the needle-side of the see-saw when that side is all the way up. When the needle side is up the electrified branch energizes the coils and pulls that side of the see-saw down. As the see-saw goes down it separates from the electrified branch and teh electric current stops. The see-saw then goes back up because of the weight on the other end, touches the branch again and starts all over again. This is repeated constantly as long as the foot switch is pressed which keeps the electricity flowing. The higher the voltage the faster the needles go up and down.

Using terms like rake, comb, delicate and broad is not the language of tattoo.

Sentence [7] is basically correct though rake and comb are not terms used by tattoo. The term “delicate” is also not a term used in the vocabulary of tattoo. It is known as fine line. “Broad,” as a description of shading or "fill" for larger areas is another term which with “rake” and “comb”, and “delicate” shows little to no contact with the language of tattoo.

This section proves she lacks a knowledge of the basic techniques of tattoo: another good reason to reject this article.

Updated 06-24-2011