Stick and poke tattoos have been around for hundreds of years, even as far back as ancient Egyptian times, well before machine tattoos came on the scene. This traditional form of tattooing can be seen across many cultures and was typically associated with a certain community or based on a religious affiliation. Now, stick and poke tattoos are becoming increasingly popular due sharing designs and ideas on social media If you’re curious about this type of tattoo and think you may want to go this route for your next piece, there are a few things to keep in mind.
What is a stick and poke tattoo?
A stick and poke tattoo is a tattoo that is created by dipping a single needle into ink and then repeatedly poking that needle into skin, making tiny dots that eventually create the full tattoo design. Typically, stick and poke tattoos are a small or simple design and just about anyone can do it at home.
This is different than a tattoo created by an electric tattoo machine, which operates using the same basic method, but with a grouping of needles that move very quickly. Stick and poke tattoos have the potential to last for many years, depending on the method and quality of the materials used for the tattoo.
What materials do I need for a stick and poke?
One of the most important things about getting a stick and poke tattoo, especially at home and/or done by a friend, is that you take every measure possible to avoid infections. This means using quality materials and keeping everything clean.
First, you’ll want to make sure to clean your “workstation” really well with an alcohol prep pad or some kind of antibacterial solution. This is an important step because it helps to eliminate harmful bacteria that can lead to infection.
Next, you need to select your needle. There are many needles that you can use for stick and poke tattoos, but all of these differ from your typical household sewing needle.
Choosing your ink is the next step, and it’s important that you’re not using just any old ink you can get your hands on. Ink pens are not a good source of ink for stick and poke tattoos, because that type of ink has not been tested on the skin. You can buy tattoo ink easily and it is pretty inexpensive. Tattoo ink has ingredients that have been tested on human skin (such as charcoal, for example), so you’ll be sure you’re using something that isn’t going to cause you a harmful reaction. An exception to this is using India Ink. This is usually used for writing and printing but contains safe ingredients that people have used for stick and poke tattoos.
Does it matter what kind of needle I use?
The type of needle you use for your stick and poke tattoo is going to make a difference in terms of how well the ink takes. Tattoo needles are different than the typical sewing needle you may already have laying around the house. Tattoo needles are actually not needles with just a single point. The end of the needle is a cluster of smaller needles. This helps to control how much ink flows and the size of the needle you need will depend on the design you have in mind for your stick and poke tattoo. A larger needle may be better for thicker lines, while a smaller needle would be used for a thinner or more delicate tattoo design.
There are a few different types of needles you can choose from. The main types are flat, round shader, magnum shader, and round liner. These also come in various gauges or diameters. Choosing the right needle for your stick and poke tattoo will ensure it comes out just how you want it to.
Flat needles are best in use for shading of geometric shapes with tight corners. Round shaders are pretty versatile and can be in use for just about any type of shading. Magnum shaders are needles in use mainly for larger designs. Round liners are in use to create lines for your design. If you’re looking for one needle that is simple and you don’t need shading on your stick and poke tattoo, choosing a round liner needle is probably your best bet for tattoo you’re going to love.
What is the best method for a stick and poke?
Best practice for a stick and poke tattoo includes preparing the design ahead of time since you’re not going to have a stencil like you might at a tattoo shop. Make sure you choose an area of your skin that is away from any open sores or wounds. Again, be sure to wash your hands and clean your work area.
Once your area is clean and you’re ready to go, clean the area of the skin where you are going to do the stick and poke tattoo. You can then shave the area to have a clear working surface. Be sure to sterilize the skin (with alcohol pads) after shaving and before beginning the stick and poke tattoo. Once you’re ready to begin, you will fill the needle with ink. You’ll probably need more ink every couple of pokes.
You want to make sure you are breaking the skin with each poke, but you don’t want to go so deep that you are bleeding. If you are bleeding, you may be going a little too deep with the needle and you can adjust your pressure accordingly. After you finish your initial lines, wipe off the excess ink with a cotton ball or make up remover pad. If your skin seems very sore and swollen at this point, you will want to let the swelling go down and come back to finish the tattoo later.
Once the swelling has subsided, you can go back and fill in any details you may have missed on the first round, or thicken any lines in your design.
Is it dangerous?
Stick and poke tattoos are not inherently dangerous, but if not done correctly and with clean needles and other materials, it could lead to an infection. If you are taking precautions to make sure everything is clean and your needle is sterile, you shouldn’t have a problem!
How deep should it go?
Since you are using a needle under your own pressure for a stick and poke, you can definitely go too deep with the needle and potentially injure yourself. One recommendation is to not go any deeper than 1/8th of an inch. You’ll feel a slight pop as you break the skin barrier, and you don’t need to go much deeper than that. If you are going too deep, you may run into bleeding and you will have a harder time healing from the stick and poke tattoo. This could include excess swelling or even scabbing. Less pressure will allow you to complete the stick and poke tattoo by going just beyond the skin barrier, and you’ll quickly see the results you’re looking for without any unnecessary pain and swelling.
Does it fade completely?
Stick and poke tattoos typically won’t last as long as a machine tattoo done in a tattoo shop by a licensed artist. On average, you can expect your stick and poke tattoo to last between five and ten years. If you use the proper equipment and techniques described above, you will likely be closer to the ten-year mark. Even then, the tattoo doesn’t disappear completely, but it will look pretty faded over time.
The placement of the stick and poke tattoo of your body also makes a difference in how long the tattoo will last. Tattoos that are on fingers, hands, and feet fade faster than areas like the legs, chest, and arms. This is due to frequent washing and differences in the skin in these areas.
How do you make a stick and poke last?
The best way to ensure that a stick and poke tattoo lasts longer is to find someone who is knowledgeable about the proper technique for stick and poke. Using the correct type of ink and needles and getting the needle to the correct depth will help to avoid fading early. Proper aftercare of your tattoo is also a proven way to increase the time that the tattoo lasts. Keeping the area moisturized even after the healing process is complete will help keep your new stick and poke tattoo from fading.
With these tips and techniques in mind, you can move forward with your stick and poke tattoo with confidence. The possibilities are endless!
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