Monday, 21 November 2011

Ordering Machines...if you're interested

For those of you interested in owning one of my Machines, then here's what you'll need to do.

Please send me an email that states which Machine type that you're wanting...

  • Liner - Heavy Armature
  • Round Shader/Color - Heavy Armature
  • Magnum Shader/Color - Heavy Armature
I'll then send you a reply email to confirm your Order & clarify any details I might require.
This reply email will also state the cost of the Machine as well as the Postage & Insurance costs.
All Orders will have an Invoice supplied & payments can be made via PayPal

Important - Please Note: 
Because each Machine being ordered is totally handmade, tested, tuned & then run-in, all of which means...

  • no two Machines will be identical, only similar looking.
  • there is NO STOCK being made or kept of these Machines. 

For those of you that have already sent emails placing Orders.
Be assured that I'm presently working on those Machines & should have them ready for the New Year.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lucky Museum Machine...all finished

When I first started out to build this Machine, I set myself a deadline for it to be all finished...
...ideally the first week of November or the second week at the very latest!!

So first thing tomorrow morning (Monday 14th November), this Luckys Museum "Hugo" Machine is off to it's new home at Luckys Tattoo Museum in the States.

In the last Blog post, this Machine had just been fine tuned & tested on myself, leaving only the running in process to be completed.
The running in was already well under way, with a large tattoo already completed & a full arm sleeve being outlined with it, when Murphy's Law struck...
...a broken Top Spring & it was exactly what had previously happened to the Magnum prototype.
Given that it was from that very same batch of Spring material, I decided to totally change the Top & Back Springs to a different, but already proven material that I'd only just acquired.

Of course that meant I now had to redo all the fine tuning & testing again, then repeat the measuring, to be followed by the strip down, then chrome plating, etc... deadline was now fast running out..!

Utilise those resources that are close to you:
Where I'm building all of these Machines is at a factory owned & operated by some friends, one of them is a young guy named Anthony who's a Spray Painter.
Whilst discussing how this Machine build was progressing, Anthony suggested he could spray paint the Frame & thus regain me some of the already lost time.
Anthony chose to use a super tough paint that when dry, is totally impervious to any solvents, most of which wouldn't ever be used within a Tattoo Studio anyway!!
Anthony also chose to use a Clear, so that it could always be seen how this Machine was constructed & that it was totally hand built.
So a really Big Thanks goes to Anthony.

With the Frame all nicely painted & rock hard, I moved straight into the reassembly & then retuning.
This was followed by some quick tests on my foot again, just to be sure that everything was working well.
The final result, a voltage range from 10V through to 11.5V & drawing no more than 0.31A.

Here's the finished product.

Luckys Museum "Hugo" Machine complete with Tube, Grip & spare Springs 

This Machine pretty much represents what I'd managed to learn as an Aussie Tattoo Artist, if you wanted to do Tattooing, you had to make the majority of equipment & components yourself.
So figured it was only fitting that I should also hand make a one piece Tube with a replaceable Tip.
I've not made this actual Grip, but had a number of them produced to how I used to make them myself, which includes the 3 grooves at the Tip end to identify my Tubes & Grips when working with other Tattoo Artists.

A quick trip down Memory Lane:
Next on my agenda was to get this Machine safely packaged & ready for postage to the States.
I started thinking about forms of packaging which included Bubble-wrap & other such things.
Whilst contemplating all this, my thoughts wandered back to the old days of seeing the Aussie Old Timers with Gladstone Bags & their Machines safely wrapped up inside...
...their Machines were always safely wrapped up within an old tea towel.
It's something of which I still do to this day when transporting the prototype Machines back & forth for testing to Eternal Ink.

So I thought it was kind of fitting to ship this "Old Style" Machine wrapped up in an "Old School" way... this case it's a typical Aussie Tourist one.

The Luckys Museum "Hugo" Machine all safely wrapped & ready to go

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Lucky Museum Machine...testing, testing

Since my last post, I finished making parts & doing all the assembly for the Luckys Museum "Hugo" Machine.
With that all done, next on my agenda was:
  • get it running.
  • establish it's optimum voltage range while drawing the minimum amps.
  • fine tune it to work smoothly within that voltage range.
  • test how well it will lay ink into skin.
Luckys Museum "Hugo" Machine assembled & awaiting tests

Why run tests:
I'll state here & now that I've no idea how others go about testing their newly built Machines...
...and nor do I profess to have all the answers needed to build Machines...

I know what works for me, so I'm following a tried & proven process that I've always used.
And in doing so, those same processes are continuing to work well for these current Machines.

Part of that process involves testing how well the Machine will lay (punch) ink into the skin.
Being a typical Old School Tattoo Artist, I only use myself as the "Guinea Pig" to run the first tests & have found my foot & ankle to be the best "test subject".
On the foot, you'll find the skin structure changes quite dramatically within a small space & so it allows you to test hard into soft skin, including taunt & loose skin. 
If you've got a preference for Big Liners, then you can quickly establish if the Machine is going to be up to the task of punching a large pattern into tough, hard skin.

I decided on using a 9 Liner for my tests...
...this Machine just pushed the ink in without any dramas!
I even used it like a Round Shader at one stage, just to see if it could keep up & continue laying ink in...
...this Machine didn't miss a beat!
Here's a photo showing my foot with it's new additions...
...they now join all those other test results from 20+ years of Machine building.

My foot with the results from testing this new Machine

I've tuned this Machine to run exactly how all the Aussie Old School Tattoo Artists ran their Thin Armature!!
As with all the Machines I've built, they're designed to work within a range so that you can use a variety of different sized Liners, using just that one Machine.
In this case, the Luckys Museum "Hugo" Machine can run 3, 5, 7, 9 & most likely an 11 Liner just by dialling up through it's voltage range.
This Machine has a voltage range from 9V through to 11V & draws low amps of 0.3A to just over 0.35A.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lucky Museum Machine...aka the "Hugo"

As mentioned in the previous post, I'm building a Thin Armature Machine for Luckys Tattoo Museum.
The Museum is part of Luckys Tattoo & Medical Supplies which is owned by Jimmy Whitlock.

What's in the name of a Frame:
Whilst looking at the prototype Machines, Jimmy happened to mention that my Frames looked similar to a Bulldog style of Frame.
Strangely enough, it was only from looking through Jimmy's online Tattoo Museum that I'd recently found out that there was an actual name for this style of live & learn!!

So I guess these Frames that I'm making are what you'd call an "Aussie" Bulldog.

All of which is kind of ironic because our beloved pet dog was an Aussie Bulldog named Hugo.
Sadly though after 11 years, Hugo is no longer with us.
So if these Aussie Bulldog Frames must have a distinct name to go by, then I'll just call them a "Hugo".


Luckys Museum "Hugo" Machine:
I've managed to make a good start & so have finished hand making the Frame.
All of the current Frames will be stamped with my name followed by the year they've been made, so in this case it reads:  C.CREED 2011

Still need to cut a Top Spring to suit, finish all the assembly, then it's time to do some fine tuning.
As with all my Machines, it will be run as is to allow everything to bed in properly, then measured, stripped down & the Frame will go off to be chrome plated to stop any rusting.
Once back from the Chromers, everything will be reassembled to the previous measurements, tuned & used a number of times to test everything is still all working correctly.
Then it'll be posted off to Jimmy for his Tattoo Museum.

Here's some photos of how it's looking like so far.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Melbourne Tattoo Expo...great event

By what I've read & have heard, it seems that the Melbourne Tattoo & Body Art Expo was huge success.

Attended the Expo on the Sunday, got there for the 11am opening & was there for the best part of the day.
It was a huge surprise to bump into a number of the "Old School" Tattoo Artists, have a chat & generally catch up after all these years.

I was very fortunate to be introduced to some of the new generation of Tattoo Artists who are doing some really amazing work.
This also allowed me the opportunity to show them the newly built Tattoo Machines, which by all accounts everyone seemed to be impressed with.

I also had the opportunity to meet with the guys from Luckys Tattoo & Medical Supply.
I'm honoured to be supplying a Thin Armature Machine to add to the collection that's on display at the Luckys Tattoo Museum.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Melbourne Tattoo Expo

There's a Tattoo Convention on this weekend... Melbourne Tattoo & Body Art Expo

It's been a long time since I've attended anything like this, so decided to go to the Sunday session.
I intend on taking the newly built Tattoo Machines so that they can be viewed or even tried whilest I'm there.
So looking forward to catching up with any of the Tattoo Artists that are following this Blog.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

My Old Machines...with mysterious origins [SOLVED]

Continuing with the photo collection:

In an earlier Blog post, I made mention of "one Machine having thrown up an interesting mystery as to it's possible origins"...
Well that particular Machine was the very first that I ever owned & was bought from Chris "Spider" Webb.
And so over the years I've always referred to it as my "Webb Machine".

Below are photos of how the Webb Machine currently looks. (Thanks again to TonyB for these photos)
It should be noted that I modified & rebuilt this Machine a number of times since 1975.
Unfortunately there's no photos of how it originally looked when it was first purchased from Chris Webb.
(it originally looked like the "Sailor Jerry" versions but mine had a set of round Bobbin Coils)

This Machine was used as my Round Shader or sometimes if needed, my Big Needle Liner. (also as a backup Liner)
Over the years this Machine went through quite a number of different setups & configurations.
At one stage it was setup to run as my primary or everyday Liner.
The Frame was modified in a number of ways to suit my requirements & the needs of those different setups.
  1. The Spring Shelf thickness was increased to allow more screw threads & add better clearance for the Armature.
  2. The old Bracket across the bottom of the Frame was removed & a new Bracket added to the Frame for fitting a Plug connection.
  3. The Side Arm width was reduced & reshaped slightly where it meets the front section of the Frame.
  4. The Tube Clamp originally used an Allen Head screw, so a threaded Stud was welded in & a Wingnut now forms something closer to a modern Quickchange.
  5. The area below the Tube Clamp was reduced to allow a shorter length screw to be used to fix the Top Coil into place.
  6. The hole for Top Binding Post was enlarged & elongated to allow a slightly better position for the alignment of the Contact Screw & Top Spring.
The original old round Bobbin Coils were replaced during a total rebuild in the early 1990's with a set of "Shorty" versions.
During that same rebuild the Frame was sent off to be chrome plated, but not polished.

My association with this Machine:
I originally bought this Machine from Chris for the grand sum of $20.00 which was almost half my weekly wage as an apprentice Jeweller back in 1975.
The purchase price included a Liner Tube, a Round Shader Tube as well as a Needle Bar.
The Frame was hand fabricated from flat mild steel strap & had some form of Blackening to protect it from rusting.
This Machine was fitted with handmade round Bobbin style Coils. (alas no longer in the present Machine)
Chris told me that it was a Machine he'd been given by Des Connolly, who was another of Melbourne's Tattoo Artists.

The history of this Machine:
As stated above, this Machine had originally come from Des Connolly.
Des was a Pattern Maker by trade & created the patterns needed by Foundries to cast various items in metal.
Chris's knowledge on building Machines was highly respected & so Des would give Machines to Chris for appraisal, others for Chris to test & keep.
From what I understood at the time, my Machine was one of those that Chris had tested & kept.

And that's about where I'd thought the history for this "Webb Machine" started & ended...
...that is until recently looking through some Tattoo Museum websites with old Tattoo Machines in them.
I'm now wondering if there's a bigger mystery as to it's true origin going by some of the photos I've now found at these various sites??

Questions about this Machine:
Des knew Sailor Jerry quite well & they both corresponded with each other swapping ideas, designs, Pigment & Machines.
A number of those Machines that they traded back & forth were prototypes, testers or working concepts.
Having only recently seen photos of the Machines owned & used by Sailor Jerry, there's a remarkable similarity between them & the original Webb Machine.

I do know that Des was casting iron Frames here in Australia for Jerry back in the very early 70's.
So I can only speculate that prior to his death in 1973, Jerry possibly sent a Machine to Des, that later was given to Chris & then onto me? *
Another possibility is that Des was the one making these particular Machines & had given them to both Jerry & Chris to test & use??

Unfortunately I've no real way of confirming either of these suspicions, as Des Connolly died in 1985.
There's a chance that Chris Webb may know the true story, but I lost contact with him many years ago.
Hopefully someone reading this Blog post might be able provide more info..? research on this will continue...

Update 2022:   CASE SOLVED
A recent visit to my old tattoo mate & fellow Machine Builder, Steve Paul has shed more light on this particular Machine.
Based on correspondence between Des & Jerry, it now turns out that Alf Mingins was also heavily involved with these particular Machines.
Both Alf & Jerry were part of an "exchange of ideas" involving a particular "E" Coil & Thin Armature Machine being made by Alf & Des then shared with Jerry for his input.
(this now accounts for "why" the Jerry Machines had features & screw threads NOT normally being used by American Builders) 

Several of Alf's old Machines are now part of Brett Stewart's Australian Tattoo Museum.
Brett has made a number of posts to his Facebook & Instagram Pages showing Alf's Machines & they feature the "E" Coil but their Frames are identical to how mine was originally.
Happy to say this is:  CASE SOLVED


Thursday, 16 June 2011

My Old Machines...built by others

Continuing with the photo collection:

In the early 90's I was a Member of the then E.T.A.A. (European Tattoo Artists Association) which was based in England.
As a Member you'd get a Newsletter which included interviews with various Artists, Tips & Tricks, etc.
Being as this was a Trade Only Newsletter, there were adverts by various Tattoo Artist, some were selling Machines.
One of those Tattoo Artists selling Machines was Micky Sharpz.

At that time, I'd read several glowing reports on how well Micky Sharpz Machines performed.
Also there was recommendations from some of England & Europe's leading Tattoo Artists who were using them too.
But there was no one that I knew personally here in Australia with any of Micky Sharpz Machines, so it would always be a gamble if his Machines would work that well for me?

There was only one model that was reasonably light in weight, made of iron, & came unplated, it was also offered with a really interesting style of Quickchange.
Of course all of the Micky Sharpz Machines were fitted with a Heavy Armature, but going by photos, this ones geometry looked good, so conversion into Thin Armature was always possible.
So based on all of that, I decided to buy one of his Machines & give it a try.
This Machine had a particular model name, but after nearly 20 years, I can't remember what it was now??

Update:  I've since been reliably informed the model name for this particular Machine was a Hornet.
A Big Thanks goes to Josh Roelink for providing me with that bit of info.

Once the Machine arrived & was in front of me, I felt there was some areas of the Frame that I could "trim some fat off" & make it even lighter without compromising it's strength.
I also ended up modifying the Quickchange as it's original Stud was in an awkward position to lock it up tight.
So with a new Stud welded at a better position, it meant I could easily rotate it closed with my Right Thumb.

When I sold everything, this Machine was still a "work in progress" as it didn't run quite as smooth as I'd have liked it to...
...from memory, my next option was to try swapping out those original Coils to see it that might have helped...
...or possibly just rewind those original ones. (swaps are far quicker & easier to do)

Almost 20 years on, this is how it looks today...a little bit of surface rust, but otherwise OK.

90's model Micky Sharpz Machines known as the "Hornet" with it's interesting Quickchange
The other side of the "Hornet" Machine

This Machine ended up becoming an extra & would sometimes be used as a Round Shader.

More of my Old Machines in the next post...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

My Old Machines...the backup ones

Here's some more of what I'd built & these are what I've been referring to as my "backup" Machines.

Continuing with the photo collection:

You'll notice that some of these Machines are all nicely Chrome plated & appear finished, while others are still in a rough state of bare metal.
That's because the ones in bare metal were still being fine tuned or having their Frames tweaked so as to match their everyday equivalent.

Once a backup Machine performed constantly as good as the everyday Machine, the backup was measured, stripped down, polished & sent off to be Chrome plated.
When it returned, that backup Machine would be reassembled, paying close attention to all those measurements that were taken earlier.
When the backup Machine was all assembled, it would be tuned to how it ran prior to the strip down.
This is the same procedure that's previously been described in the post on building the Magnum Machine.

This was my backup Liner.
I built it at the time when the old Australian $5.00 paper note was replaced with it's polymer version.
A flyer was released to show how the new polymer note looked, so I used one for my Coil Covers.
Basically I copied the idea from a US Tattoo Supplier who had Coils with US $100.00 note on them... was a novel idea & so just thought I'd do my own Aussie version of it.

This was my backup Shader (now it would be referred to as a Magnum) 
It was just one in a number of backup Shaders that I was building at the time...
...after all, you could never have too many of them!!
This Frame was given to me with it's Tube Clamp section broken off & the Side Arm missing... with a bit of work & knowledge, I managed to resurrect it.

This was my backup Round Shader & it worked well as a Magnum too.
Notice that this one has Chrome plating.
This Frame was also given to me with it's Tube Clamp section removed... again with a bit of work, I managed to resurrect it.

Stay tuned for more of the Old Machines in the next post...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

My Old Machines...the everyday ones

OK, this post is going to be a looong one because there's lots of little things to explain... my apologies for that now!

Read on if you're brave:

As previously mentioned in my first Blog post, I sold everything that was Tattoo related to TonyB.
It's been many years since we'd been in contact & now due to this Blog, we've been able to catch up again.

Here's some photos that form part of the collection of my Old Machines that are now owned by TonyB.
A really Big Thanks goes to TonyB for supplying all of these photos & allowing their use here on the Blog.

TonyB asked if I could possibly provide him with some info & history on each of the Old Machines.
I was happy to oblige, but I will say that some of the Machines did have me racking my brain for answers!
In the pursuit of those answers, one Machine has thrown up an interesting mystery as to it's possible origins... I'll be making a completely separate post dedicated to just that particular Machine later on.

A bit of Aussie history about Machines:
The late 70's saw me start professionally as a Tattoo Artist & so I bought Machines from Wally Hammond.
 (see #14 on this list)   (read even more here)
Wally was another legend of the Australian Tattoo scene who owned & operated the first ever professional Tattoo Studio at Kings Cross in Sydney.
Wally also built & supplied his own line of Machines as well as a range of raw Pigment from local sources.
Those Machines came fitted with Thin Armatures because locally that's what was made & used by the majority of Aussie Tattoo Artists.
Those Wally Hammond Machines were later pulled down for spare parts or became Frames for some other Machines that were later sold.
Regrettably they're not part of this collection, but the knowledge they provided me would prove invaluable.
And here's a rough version of what those old Wally Hammond Machines used to look like.

The early 80's saw me buying my first ever set of USA made Machines from one of the well known Tattoo Suppliers.
These Machines came fitted with their standard Armatures, these were referred to as Heavy Armatures by the majority of us who knew the difference.
Machines with a Heavy Armature run completely different to those with Thin Armatures & so I had to learn a whole new way of building, running & the tuning of these Machines.
So by the mid 80's, after constantly trying different ideas, setups & configurations for tuning, I finally had Heavy Armature Machines that worked really well.
By this time, I was now building & tuning Heavy Armature Machines for a number of other Melbourne based Tattoo Artists.
Because of this, I started stocking up on those items that I'd need to do the rebuilds or tuning for others.
The big advantage was the uniformity, inter-changeability & availability of all these parts from various USA Suppliers.

The start of the 90's saw me working for Dan Robinson Snr.
All of Dan's Machines were fitted with Thin Armature, always had been & the quality of his work spoke for itself.
Dan asked "why is it that all you young ones insist on using those slow running pieces of shit?"
He was referring to the Heavy Armatures I had on my Machines.
So Dan gave me a try of his Machines & I noticed immediately the difference between them, Dan's Machines reminded me of those old Wally Machines.
One Tattoo later & I was convinced...I converted my then two Machines into Thin Armature & set about trying to relearn all those old tuning tricks associated with them.
And so I continued using & building Thin Armature Machines right up until I retired in the mid 90's.
Those same USA Machines I'd first bought back in the early 80's went on to become my everyday Machines.

Things to note about these Old Machines:
All of these Old Machines share several things in common.
  • They're all fitted with a Thin Armature Bar & they use a Rubber Block.
  • The Rubber Block was used in conjunction with a Straight Shaft Needle Bar.
You'll also notice that they're all fitted with a Plug connection which is a 3.5mm Mono Audio...
...believe me when I say it's far superior to either a Clip Cord or an RCA Plug!!

I'm sure that most of you will notice that the majority of these Machines are pretty rough & rugged looking, especially the ones listed as the "primary or everyday Machines".
As these were constantly in a state of use day in & day out, it meant I couldn't afford to strip them down to be polished & plated until I had a viable replacement for it.
For the majority of my career, I worked with only two Machines & if one failed or broke, I'd then spend all night getting it repaired, tuned & ready for work the next day.
I finally decided to build myself a set of backup Machines that were basically copies of the everyday ones...
...and as with most copies, they never seemed to run quite the same as the original one!

And so those originals just continued to be used, day in & day out... was much more important to produce quality Tattoos than to have "pretty looking" Machines!!

This was my primary or everyday Liner.
Having done a rebuild which included mods to the Frame, it was reassembled just to test run...
...but the old saying "if it runs well, then leave well enough alone" seemed to apply to this Machine!
It always ran so well & consistent that it was almost impossible to consider ever stripping it down.

This was my primary or everyday Round Shader. 
This Machine was built as a copy (backup Liner) to the one above, but it just ran better as a Shader.

This was my primary or everyday Shader. (now it'd be called my Magnum).
Another of those Machines that always ran consistently well that it never got stripped down.

This was my AC (Alternating Current) Shader. (now it'd be called my AC Magnum).
Most old AC Machines usually ran a one piece Spring, so this one was also setup that way.

There'll be more Old Machines in the next post...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Machine building...a new spring & all runs well

Since changing the previously broken Top Spring, the Magnum Machine has been working fine.
Donny from Eternal Ink has continued using the Machine whenever he can & reports no problems with it.
And so I guess this would seem to prove that the current Spring material is also up to the task at hand.

That broken Top Spring once it was removed

I recently received a photo collection of my Old Tattoo Machines & have been busy compiling the info on them.
So stay tuned for the next Blog post...

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Machine building...when things break

Back when I was Tattooing, I typically liked to use a newly built Machine for a minimum of 3 hrs, even better to get 5 hrs of run time on it.
This gives the Springs & the Contact Screw time to properly bed in & run smoothly, also everything needs to be checked just to be sure nothing is coming loose.

So given this newly built Magnum Machine has only had about 1 hour of running under load (that's actual Tattoo time), I really wasn't that surprised when Donny said that the Machine was no longer working.

Donny had the Machine & was about to start another Tattoo when suddenly it sounded very strange...
...a quick glance revealed that it had broken a Front Spring. (aka Top Spring)

Obviously I'm going to need to change that Spring, but that's all I'll be doing to the Machine at this point.

Some old advice for young players out there:
To isolate the cause of a problem, you only change one thing at a time.
Too many changes that are done all at once, means you'll never know exactly what caused that original problem.

Chances are that everything will run sweet again & this new Spring will be there for many years to come.
If this newly replaced Spring breaks again within a short space of time, it'll mean there's a bigger problem & I'd need to start looking at the other possible causes.

Possible causes:
It's been about 16 years since I last built a Machine & in some cases my original sources for components that I preferred to use are no longer around.
Of course this now presents me with a number of problems to consider & overcome.
  • Finding a new source for the component.
  • Establishing if this totally new component will match up to my original needs.
  • Will it run correctly with everything else.
  • Will it last the distance.
In this case, the Spring material is one of those new components so it's quite possible I've over stressed it, causing it to fail.
I'll only know this by replacing the Spring, running it in again & seeing if it fails for a second time.
If it did, then I might also need to consider changing to a different source for my Spring material.

So there's a few more tests awaiting this Machine...

Friday, 20 May 2011

Old Stuff...AC Machine & TatPac Supply

It would seem the more I clean up my old workshop, the more I seem to find old Tattoo related stuff...

Here's something that only an Old Timer would remember seeing or possibly have even used...
...a Tattoo Machine setup to run on low voltage AC (Alternating Current)...

...and here's one of the "TatPac" AC Power Supplies that I had specifically designed & built to run AC Machines on.

I was originally told that the majority of pre 70's Aussie Tattoo Artists were all using AC Machines, but by the early 70's, most had changed over to just using DC Machines.
I personally know of at least one Old Timer that was still happily using his AC setup into the mid 80's.

Now one of the main problems with using AC Machines was that they'd run extremely hot, in fact so hot that you could actually burn yourself quite badly..!

I can remember being told of how Tattoo Artists would throw these red hot AC Machines into the bucket of water they'd keep beside their chair...
...then they'd use another spare AC Machine until that also got too hot, then fish out the cold one from the bucket..!!

Back in 1990, Dan Robinson Snr ran a Shader/Color AC Machine that he'd use for creating certain kinds of shading effects.
It was also great for packing nice solid Color into skin that was sun hardened & tough like old boot leather.
Dan & I were discussing this old problem of AC Machines running hot & I decided to invest the time & money into having a purpose built AC Power Supply made.

The end result was the "TatPac" now we finally had AC Machines that could run cool.

Only a very small number of these Power Supplies were ever made, so if you do happen to see one, then it's a bit of Aussie Tattoo History!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Machine building...the ultimate test

As mentioned in the previous post, this Machine still had to be run in & properly tested under load...
...that basically means putting it through it's passes by doing a complete Tattoo.

This would be the ultimate test of the Machine, even more so, my skills as it'd been so long since I'd built a Machine!

I wanted a fair & unbiased assessment of this Machines capabilities as a Magnum or Color Shader, especially when compared against what's presently available.
So what better test than to drop this Machine into Eternal Ink & let the young crew there give it a run.

The Machine (also me) passed it's tests as a Magnum (Color) Machine with "flying colors" (pun intended)
A really Big Thanks goes to Donny at Eternal Ink for graciously agreeing to do the tests & for providing these photos as well.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Machine building...assemble & tune

OK, here's that first Frame all assembled & looking much more like a Tattoo Machine or in this case what's usually referred to as the "Machine Head".

From the very outset I'd been designing & building this particular Frame for use as a Magnum.
Although it's now been tweaked & tuned, I'm technically still calling this a "prototype" as it's still to be properly run in for at least several hours whilst doing a Tattoo...
...hopefully I can organise for that to happen within the next week or so.

When that's all done & there's no major changes needed, everything gets measured, stripped down, then the Frame & various parts will be prepared for Chrome plating.
Once back from the Chromers, everything gets reassembled using those previous measurements, test run & tuned again to be sure it's all working as it was before.

And because no Tattoo Machine is complete without a Tube & Grip, that's one of the next things to tackle.

Next on the agenda...a Liner Machine 

Machine building...start from nothing

Here's the first stages of the very first Machine build...
...a bit of marking out, cutting, filing & heating, then some bending, welding & smacking with a hammer...
It's like making jewellery...only this is bigger, there's no precious metals involved & you don't wear it..!!

The entire Frame is hand made & this is very much the "Old School" way of doing it.
Trial assembly of the various components to double check alignments & spacing, followed by a bit of a tweaking here & there, it's all part of the hand made process.

All that's left is to finish off the drilling, tap the holes, then finish the Quick-change by adjusting it so that both imperial & metric sized Tubes will fit & hold correctly.

Next stage is the assembly...

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Lost photos from long ago...again more

Some more of those lost photos that were buried much deeper in that old shoe box...

Here's a photo of young (at that time) Kosta when we all were working at Highline Tattooing.
Kosta had originally come into the Studio with a Portfolio of his drawings & said that he wanted to learn to be a Tattoo Artist.
Kosta's artistic ability was very impressive, but that meant very little if he couldn't go on to meet the rest of my requirements!
After a period of time, Kosta having proved himself, started his training as a Tattoo Artist with me.
Kosta later went on to be a part owner in Chapel Tattoo...although I'm not sure where he is these days??

Here's the three requirements I looked for with regards a potential trainee & all in this following order...
  1. Honesty 
  2. Reliability
  3. Artistic ability
I can hear you all asking, "Why these requirements & why in this particular order?"
I'm not totally sure, maybe it's related to my original Jewellery training, but here's my reasons "why"...
  1. Totally pointless to even bother teaching someone who's prepared to rob you the minute your back is turned or once you've handed them the keys to the Studio!
  2. It's equally pointless to teach someone who can't really be bothered showing up to learn, especially when you're the one who's passing on your knowledge!!
  3. Artistic ability comes in a variety of flavours, a good "Stencil Jockey" that works only from stencils & follows the colors of the Flash on the walls, can be equally important to a Studio!!!
Typically most candidates would only meet two of those three requirements...that's called Murphy's Law.
This explains why over my career I've actually trained very few Tattoo Artists, but those that I did were all well respected & highly sought after by other Studios.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Eternal Ink...Berwick's Tattoo Studio

I've recently met & got talking with the young crew of Tattoo Artists at Eternal Ink, here in Berwick.
Donny, Brandon & Meg are all doing some really nice, tidy work & I was very impressed by them & the Studio.

The subject of Machines, building & their maintenance arose, so I was able to offer up & show them some "Old Timers" Tips & Tricks.

Whilst we were discussing all things Tattooing, it suddenly occurred to me just how "Old School" my ways of doing things have now become...
...although I'm still not really sure if that's a "good thing" or a "bad thing" for me to be..??

The "old fundamentals" that I'd struggled so hard to learn about & then openly taught to my apprentices, seem to now be something from a "bygone time"...
What I'm referring to are those very basics that every (Old) Tattoo Artist had to know if they wanted to work in a Studio.
  • Making your own Needle patterns & then soldering them onto a Needle Bar correctly.
  • Mixing your own Colors from raw pigment, then making the various shades & tones.
  • Machine basics like tuning, repairs & building knowledge.
Now with everything being  pre-made, pre-mixed & openly available on the web for any newly aspiring "Wanna-be", I really wondered if anyone knew that old stuff any more??

So it was refreshing to hear that Donny, Brandon & Meg knew some of the old fundamentals & that they were eager to learn even more of them.

Speaking of "Old", it's been actually kind of strange-funny-odd for me to see all this current style of work that's being done & just how popular it is.
The reason it's so strange for me?...because I spent a large amount of my Tattoo years doing Cover Up's over that very same old stuff everyone is getting now..!
hmmm...wonder if the Tattoos I'd previously done back in the 80's & 90's are now having Cover Up's done because they're deemed "Not Old Enough"??

I guess that old saying must be true...
..."If you have or wear something for long enough, it'll come back into fashion"...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Rockabilly Bling Jewellery

Here's a shameless plug for my good friend Jacquie's new business & website, Rockabilly Bling.

This artwork is also being used for Business Cards, Stickers & other promotional items.

Some background info on this artwork:
Jacquie was after a certain style & look for her logo, an "Old School Tattoo" look, but nothing that was going to be directly copied or lifted straight from a design sheet by Sailor Jerry.
So the logo had to be original, an authentic old feel to it & maybe just a touch of modern flare within it as well.

Knowing that I'd previously been a Tattoo Artist, Jacquie stopped by to ask for my thoughts or advice with the designing of her logo.
I thought I may be able to help out with roughs that could be used by someone else to create the finished art...
...remember that I've not done anything remotely like Tattoo Art in a very, very long time!!

So did a rough pencil sketch to show my concept, scanned it & sent it off via an email.
Jacquie loved the concept, but was unsure of what colors, etc might be use with it?

I'd recently bought ArtRage Studio, so figured I'd try learning it as well as give Jacquie an idea of what colors would work.
I'm guessing that doing Tattoo Art after a long break is much like riding a never really forget it.

Totally amazed at how easy it was to create similar effects on computer to how I used to do it on paper.
It's a brilliant little program & one that every Tattoo Artist should have, even those just starting out.

Beni the Tattoo Artist

While checking out some other Tattoo related links, I stumbled over some info listed as "Beni Bio".
Following various links, I then managed to find a photo of Beni working.

Beni the Tattoo Artist

Beni became the very last guy I was to teach tattooing at a Studio, one on one, before my retirement.
Beni (or Ben as I knew him then) picked up on all the basics of tattooing really quickly & then went on to produce some amazing pieces back in the mid to late 90's.
Looking at this group of current photos, I can see that nothing has changed & that knowledge shows through in the quality of his work.

As I get older, it's kind of nice to see those that I'd originally trained 20+ years ago are still working in the Trade & doing outstanding work.
Nice stuff Beni.

Update:  I've since found some more info saying that Beni is one of the resident Tattoo Artists at King St Tattoo in Sydney

Update 2:  It would appear that all the above links for Beni no longer work, so I've removed them.
The only current reference I could find anywhere for him was from here.

Update 3:  It would appear that Beni is now working at Broadway Tattoo in Sydney.

About the Artist
Beni McDonald was born in Manly, Sydney in 1968. His involvement in the local skateboarding scene led to a lifelong interest in art and music that was part of that culture in the late 80’s, illustrating flyers and record covers for local, underground bands. He apprenticed as a tattooist in Melbourne in the early 90’s and worked in Australia and overseas as a custom tattoo artist for the next fifteen years. He now works as an illustrator and graphic designer in a number of fields, including a skate and street wear company with his son.