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China Tattoo Machine

The Tattoo Machine [2010-07-21]

The tattoo machine is where the entire process gets started. The ink flows through the machine and the designs you create will begin to take shape and form a work of art. While the tattoo machine is an integral part of the process it is important to always remember it is not the machine that makes the tattoo but the tattoo artist. Understanding and learning to use the tattoo machine effectively is important but the machine can never take the place of the skill, time and patience required of the artist.

Because all of the action lies in the machine it is important to have a basic understanding of how the machine works. Tattoo machines can have a varied appearance but they all perform essentially the same task. Most tattoo machines have the same parts. These include standard contact points, a place where the needle goes through and power supply as well as other parts such as front and rear springs, contact caps, soldering lug, binding post, machine frame, needle tube, band hook and needle bar.

All tattoo machines basically work by driving the needle in an up and down motion to slightly open the first layers of skin just enough so the ink can be driven into the skin. It is the job of the tattoo artist to steer the machine in an outline or a pre-drawn design to complete the tattoo.

Now that you have an idea of how the tattoo machine works it’s time to get started using it. It is extremely important to learn how to use the tattoo machine properly if you eventually want to become a great tattoo artist. As I said previously, the machine doesn’t do the hard work; that’s the job of the artist.
The first step is learning how to hold your tattoo machine. You don’t want to just start buzzing away with it. Remember this is an art form. The size and weight of the tattoo machine can make a large difference in this regard, so it’s important to make sure you choose a machine you’re comfortable with.

When gripping the tattoo machine you need to actually grip it around the needle tube. To do this you will grab hold of the knurled grip much like you would hold a pencil. Be sure the open side of the needle tip is facing away from you. Be aware it may take some time to become comfortable with holding the machine as well as to develop the muscles necessary to comfortably hold the machine for long periods of time.
Once you have mastered the endurance required to tattoo and found a comfortable pencil grip you can begin testing your skills.

As described grab the knurled grip of the tattoo machine and place it comfortably in your hands, as in a pencil grip. Remember to have the bulk of the machine over top the back of your hand.
The palm of your hand should be resting on the surface of the skin; much like the way you would do if you were writing on the customer’s skin with a pen. This is known as the bridge by many tattoo artists. The palm of your hand can be used to swivel and turn the tattoo machine on the skin. Actually, learning to pivot and turn effectively is going to make your designs a whole lot easier to master.

You will need to tilt the tattoo machine at a 45-degree angle, with the butt of the machine dropping towards the skin. When you have the grip on the tattoo machine, naturally your palm is going to rest on the skin. This is completely normal. As I mentioned earlier, you will use the cpalm and heel to pivot, move and control the tattoo machine.