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Pork Soda And Tattooval

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I've been meaning to get back to this thread to add a bit more. Here's a rundown on what to expect with pig compared to real skin, and why I truly believe it's a great practice medium before diving straight in to real skin with REAL consequences.

There's no reason to dive straight into real skin without working out some kinks. To learn how to tattoo, you're gonna make mistakes. Why not make a few mistakes on something that can be thrown away, before taking the plunge? There are really shitty consequences of taking a tattoo machine to skin without a solid knowledge of how to tune you machine and why your machine is tuned accordingly. There are basic hand movements and techniques to learn when using specific needles. Why tear up real skin when you can throw away your mangled pig? There are even shittier consequences to tattooing without proper CC and BBP prevention knowledge. Here's a link to some free short videos on bloodborne pathogen safety:

click here...

Why not practice your safe and sterile techniques on pig to get it down pat before giving someone staph or a disease?

Types of pig skin, and where to get it:

Go to a local butcher or Mexican market. Mexican markets seem to have it on hand more. I've found that the back is more expensive and the skin is tougher. Fat back is used for sausage and so therefore costs more per pound. Belly is the best, but most expensive. Belly meat is good meat and sells quick at over 10 bucks a pound! But the belly skin is super stretchy and is great practice for stretch when lining because you actually must stretch properly to get a decent line. I usually get the side of the pig. It seems to be the cheepest, and is soft enough to where you can stretch for practice. Expect to pay like $1.50 per pound. Compared to fucking shit ass ripoff practice skin, that's fucking pennies. There are other pig parts like ears and feet. I've heard they are good for practice as well.

Pig skin preparation and storage:

To prep pig, you want to soak it in cold water with dish soap. Scrub it with dish soap to get the oils off. When clean, freeze it over night to break down the tissue and make it a bit softer. To thaw, soak it in cold water and dish soap again to get rid of as much of the last bits of oiliness you can. From there, pat the skin dry and stencil and tattoo it like real skin.

Here are some similarities and differences I've found between the two:

Stencils: They are hard to get on clear and crisp with pig. Real skin stencils are crisp and clean. Although the stencils are a little fuzzy on pig, once they dry, they don't come off. You have to be more careful with real skin stencils.

Lining: Pig requires higher volts and a slower hand. Pig doesn't blow out, instead, the ink builds up and the lines in the pig become raised. As far as I'm concerned, with enough practice on pig. You can recognize a blow out with pig and practice preventing some of that. Also, I snagged the needle countless times on pig trying to learn how to ride the needle properly. I feel practicing riding the needle on pig was the best thing I could have done to prepare for real skin.

Color fill: Much easier on real skin. Pig skin takes ink differently, but not enough to where you can't learn from it. If you over work it, or go in with too high of volts, it will get puffy and cauliflour. The surface tears up and gets spongy. Getting ink to stick in pig is much more difficult, and requires you to figure out your tuning and fill technique on a less cooperative medium. If you can get solid fill on pig in a couple passes without tearing up the surface, you can absolutely do it on real skin. I've done about 30 pig skin tattoos, and tore up the first half of them easily trying to figure out proper voltage, needle hang, hand speed, etc... I'm very glad I was patient with the pig first.

Whip shading: About the same. Real skin is slightly more receptive to the ink. With pig, because I couldn't get grey wash to work, I was forced to figure out proper hand speed to get a good gradient with just black. If you can figure out how to get a decent gradient with undiluted black on pig, I feel you will figure it out much quicker when you transition to real skin.

When you start getting the hang of your machines and techniques, try placing your pig skin on an upside down bowl. Leave the skin stationary and work around it. It will help with hand strength and will force you to figure out techniques to stabilize your machine at awkward angles.

As you can see, I really want to emphasize how much pig skin helped me prepare for real skin. I feel without the ability to practice without permanent consequences, I would have truly been irresponsible. Yes pig skin is different, but I see it as high altitude training. If you can figure out your tuning and build up your hand strength to lay in a decent line on pig, it will make your transition to skin much easier, saving some very permanent fuck ups that could have been avoided.

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This is great advice. I'm hunting down a suplier for pigskin this week! Compared to this crappy rubber "real skins" ive been using and grapefruits which mess up the color, anything would be an improvement.

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I did my first practice piggy today and I wish I'd come across this sooner!

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just finished my first real attempt to tattoo pig skin (I've tried once but it seemed too hard so i thought I was doing something wrong and I quit).

I've been practicing on grapefruits for a while and I've done a small piece on my upper leg before... man, the pig skin (I've got fresh belly skin) it's still really hard! it's streachable almost like human skin, but really to get a decent line I had to struggle and get over it more than once (wich is no good to do on human skin as far as I know)... is it like this or it's just me?

I raised the voltage more than usual and still even if I was going really slow it was really hard to get that line...

I was using a round 5 liner... maybe wrong needle for pigskin?

when I did my leg it was way easier! I mean... not as easy as the grapefruit but easier...

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just finished my first real attempt to tattoo pig skin (I've tried once but it seemed too hard so i thought I was doing something wrong and I quit).

I've been practicing on grapefruits for a while and I've done a small piece on my upper leg before... man, the pig skin (I've got fresh belly skin) it's still really hard! it's streachable almost like human skin, but really to get a decent line I had to struggle and get over it more than once (wich is no good to do on human skin as far as I know)... is it like this or it's just me?

I raised the voltage more than usual and still even if I was going really slow it was really hard to get that line...

I was using a round 5 liner... maybe wrong needle for pigskin?

when I did my leg it was way easier! I mean... not as easy as the grapefruit but easier...

Tuning and stretch has a whole lot to do with getting that ink to stick. Pork belly is perfect lining practice. Stretchy as hell. If it's not tight, the skin's just gonna bounce with the needle. Get a good stretch, and make sure your machine is tuned. If you can get a good consistent line on fresh pork belly, you're on your way.

Do you have a duty or cps readout on your PS? What's it say?

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Do you have a duty or cps readout on your PS? What's it say?

:unsure::huh:

ok...maybe because I'm new and not too confident with the lingo (plus maybe a bit of lenguage barrier...) but I'm not really sure what you're talking about.

if you're asking about my Power Supply and what voltage I used, like I hope to understand, I'm using a "SUNSKIN TATOO variable power supply" it has a small digital display for the voltage and I had it pushed more than 8,5, while to tattoo fruit and even my leg I never went over 7,5 (my buddy that gave it to me is a pro and told me never to push it over 8 on people) and it was enough to draw a more than decent line.

otherwise, sorry if I didn't understand the question...

anyway, not a needle problem, right?

thanks in advance man!

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:unsure::huh:

ok...maybe because I'm new and not too confident with the lingo (plus maybe a bit of lenguage barrier...) but I'm not really sure what you're talking about.

if you're asking about my Power Supply and what voltage I used, like I hope to understand, I'm using a "SUNSKIN TATOO variable power supply" it has a small digital display for the voltage and I had it pushed more than 8,5, while to tattoo fruit and even my leg I never went over 7,5 (my buddy that gave it to me is a pro and told me never to push it over 8 on people) and it was enough to draw a more than decent line.

otherwise, sorry if I didn't understand the question...

anyway, not a needle problem, right?

thanks in advance man!

Duty readout on your PS (Power Supply) tells you how much time the needle spends outside/ inside the skin. CPS (Cycles Per Second) or Hz is how fast your machine is running. Sounds like you don't have a display on your PS that tells you that, but you don't really need it. You just need to learn to listen to your machine. Tuning your machine is not something easily explained on a keyboard. But there's a whole bunch of info to help you along our way in the archives here. Start reading around. The Q & A section is a good place to start. Read read read read read, then start asking questions. :)

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Oooh wee! Squeal, squeal. Just got some nice pork belly from a butcher at the Grove of all places here in LA. Pretty cheap too at about $3 a pound, they did not have anything else so I had to get that. I see what JD means by being stretchy! Stuff is uber stretchy! I also have to add it was pretty gross having to give it a rub down, haha.

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How'd you get to be so smart?

I practice self acupuncture on my head with Tatsoul Spearman needles. 1rls work a treat! :D

Oooh wee! Squeal, squeal. Just got some nice pork belly from a butcher at the Grove of all places here in LA. Pretty cheap too at about $3 a pound, they did not have anything else so I had to get that. I see what JD means by being stretchy! Stuff is uber stretchy! I also have to add it was pretty gross having to give it a rub down, haha.

Think of it like you're cleaning a pork chop. It's the same exact shit. :)

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A little update on what I've learned on lining on pig compared to real skin. Pig will take the ink pretty much regardless of how loose or tight the skin is so stretch is not really much of a variable with pig skin. On real skin, if you're tattooing a spot that's less tight on the body, stretch becomes a huge factor. You need a tight surface to tattoo. Without stretch, or the ability to work with some kind of tension in the skin, your needles are gonna bounce with the skin, creating a shitty, wobbly line that has a lot more chance of falling out. With real skin, you need to make sure the needles are penetrating at a consistent depth and speed. You can't practice that very well with pig skin. Pork belly works best, but is still not the same since it still takes the ink regardless of the skin tension.

Pig skin is awesome practice, and is a huge help in practicing needle depth, hand speed, and hand strength, but unfortunately does lack it's ability to help you hone in on your stretching and sculpting skills. :D

I also mentioned above that I felt pig needed higher volts. I now feel that that's untrue. I've come to realize that you need to tune a fairly hard hit in a liner. This may be just my preference, but I've found that a harder hit ensures a more consistent line.

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Oooh wee! Squeal, squeal. Just got some nice pork belly from a butcher at the Grove of all places here in LA. Pretty cheap too at about $3 a pound, they did not have anything else so I had to get that. I see what JD means by being stretchy! Stuff is uber stretchy! I also have to add it was pretty gross having to give it a rub down, haha.

In my opinion, of all the bits of piggy I've worked on, the belly is the best :) I've worked shoulders, feet, ears, back, and belly...the belly is pretty much as close as it gets to the real thing

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I have only tried pigskin twice found laying the stencil hard and cleaning excess ink away but i also had the scored pigskin, i will try to get direct from a butchers next time (not morrisons) but your tips will help

Great Thread, very informative thanks

Worthy of pinning methinks

i have the scorred / perrforated pig skin as well, first time had trouble with the stencil going on is because you really have to wash the skin in hot soapy water frist to get all the oils off then the stencils went on fine, a bit different then on human skin but they were still completly readable, and the problem with messy hard to clean skin is after you get the stencil on you neeeed to use vaseline i gave the whole skin a thin coat and then used it from that point as i would a normal tattoo re applying when whiped off in area i was working, this gave great results, used only red blue and yellow, primary colours, mixxed them in tube and had some awesome light and dark greens for the snake i was filling in and some blue in the shadows, came out great im planning on starting a thread with alll the piggys i do for cirt

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i would really like to get some of that belly skin though, i have been getting mine from a major slaughterhouse in my area 45 bucks for 50lbs of pig skin pretty awesome deal minus the perforations from the machine that rips it off, i called a few butchers but they get all theres from the main slaighterhouse as well i was thinking maybe some independent orriental markets.... any suggestions

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I like the list on what you need, its super helpful and good to know these tit bits of info reading through the thread. The final tattoos look good and you cant tell Valerie is a newbee, handy post!

Edited by Ms Charlie Brown
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