This grandma wanted to show the world how much.
Sandra Hippen had the names of her two granddaughters prominently tattooed on her leg.
“I've been talking about it for 10 years,” said Hippen, a retiree from South Dakota who spends summers with the grandkids in Bothell.
She finally did it last week at Tattoo Garden in Everett.
“I'm 63, getting my first tattoo,” she said.
Getting tattooed is no longer taboo, whether you're 18 or 80.
“People start at all different ages,” said Michael Gardner, owner of Tattoo Garden. “I get a full range.”
Gardner will be among the featured artists at this weekend's Seattle Tattoo Expo, a three-day event celebrating the art and culture of tattoos for all ages. It's for the un-inked and ink-aficionados alike.
In Gardner's 20 years of using skin as a canvas, he has tattooed every area of the body imaginable. He has done all the usual flowers, skulls and busty women as well tattoos commemorating love and family that go beyond those “Mom” hearts.
Hippen found Gardner through a friend's recommendation.
“I came and talked to him and first impressions are important to me,” she said. “I really liked him and I went, ‘OK, he's the guy.'”
Gardner said checking out an artist's credentials is important.
“Know who you are dealing with,” he said. “Hold them to a high professional standard, just like you would a doctor or a dentist or any other licensed professional. I think my place is a little funkier than your average dentist office, but it's just as important to hold those standards.”
Hippen provided the idea to use her granddaughter's first and middle names, Avery Autumn and Riley Skye. She figured her calf would be a good site. “When you're old, you want a part that doesn't sag,” she said.
Gardner created a black and emerald design that covered about 8 inches of her leg.
“I wasn't planning on this big,” she said. “But when I saw it I said, ‘OK, we're going to do it.'”
It went off without a flinch or wince. Hippen, sprawled on a table, looked so relaxed it was like she was getting a massage. The loud buzz of the needle didn't disturb the mellow mood in the airy studio. Nor did the pain of the rapid zings penetrating skin with ink.
“It kind of feels like you've cut your finger,” Hippen said, “but then as soon as he's done, it's gone. It's not a constant thing. The longer he does it the less it hurts.”
Gardner frequently paused to wipe oozing ink and blood with a wet cloth. “That feels good,” Hippen said.
The cost came to about $300. She also got a term of endearment for her husband tattooed on the inside of her ankle: his nickname with a tiny heart.
“On our second date I started calling him ‘Hipshot.' It's a nickname that I gave him 35 years ago,” she said. “He'll be pleasantly surprised, I think.”
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
The Seattle Tattoo Expo, with ink, art, contests, music, burlesque and entertainment, is August 15, 16 and 17 at Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center.
Admission is $20 a day. A three-day pass is $50. Hours are 2 to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Contests for best portrait, best cover up, large color, large black and grey, best religious, best pin-up and a daily tattoo of the day. Entry fee is $10.
For more information, visit www.seattletattooexpo.com
Here are some tips from Tattoo Garden, 5205 S. 2nd Ave., Everett. For more information, visit www.tattoogarden.net.
Keep the bandage on for at least three hours. You can keep it on longer if you want, but not more than 12 hours.
Wash it as soon as you take the bandage off. Use warm/hot water and a fragrance free soap to get it totally clean. Get all the slime and gunk off of it, this may mean lathering and rinsing several times. Use your fingertips, nothing rough like a washcloth.
Once your tattoo is clean you can blot it dry with a clean towel. Let it air dry and keep an eye on it for a few minutes. If it oozes or gets sticky then you should wash it again.
Wash your tattoo two or three times a day for two weeks. It's good for you.
After the first day or two you might notice your tattoo feeling dry and tight. You can use a white, unscented hand lotion on it whenever it feels like it needs it. Make sure to wait 15 minutes after you wash it so it's dry before using lotion.
It will start flaking and itching after a few days. This is normal so don't panic. Your tattoo is not coming off. Do not scratch or pick at it.
Do not soak or swim for at least 10 days or until your completely done flaking.
No sun or tanning for three weeks. After your tattoo is healed you should get into the habit of putting sunscreen on it.
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