We’ve seen how awesome tattoos look, but have you ever wondered how it all works? Safe to say, it’s not as simple as drawing penises on your passed out friend with a marker. [firstpara]
What tools are used in tattooing?
Tattoos today are accomplished using a tattoo machine, which are a lot more humane than the thorn and hammer tattooing tools featured in Lars Krutak’s Tattoo Hunter. Invented by a certain Samuel O’ Reilly in the late 1800s, the modern tattoo machine was based on old engraving machine by Thomas Edison. O’ Reilly modified the design that instead of having the machine engrave on hard surfaces, it was able to drive a needle down into a person’s skin, thus making tattooing possible.
How does the tattoo machine work?
The tattoo machine’s basic components are a sterilized needle, a tube system that sucks in the ink, an electric motor, and a foot pedal for controlling the needle’s vertical movement. The machine is able to puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute (ouch!). The needle penetrates the skin at about a millimeter deep, leaving a drop of insoluble ink with each puncture.
Which part of the skin is the ink placed?
While it may look like that the tattoo simply sits on the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, the ink is actually deposited in dermis, the skin’s second layer. The ink is deposited here because the cell structure of the dermis is a lot more stable than the epidermis which can be damaged easily with scratching.
WORDS BY GELO GONZALES
IMAGE FROM "THE TATTOOIST" Eyeworks Touchdown and MediaCorp Raintree Pictures, 2007