Picture of DIY Tattoos (Stick 'n' Poke)
The art of tattooing has been around for centuries with every major culture doing the process. In today's world tattooing is most of the time left to experts, resulting in very beautiful works. But what if you want to do your own? this instructable will cover the art of "Stick 'n' poke" tattoos that will enable you to safely add your own dermal embellishments.

WARNING: These tattoos, although light, are PERMANENT! Think about what you want on your body before you go through with it. ALSO it does hurt, and depending on your pain level it may hurt too much. Test without ink first to see if you want to spend 30 minutes poking your skin to get some cool stuff.

Lets get on with it.

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Step 1: Suppiles

Picture of Suppiles
You don't need much for this instructable but here is the suppy list:
1 Pencil
1 sewing needle of medium size
1 jar lid
A bottle of black ink, this instructable uses higgins waterproof ink
A stove or other fire producing device.
Rubbing alcohol
Anti bacterial soap
unscented lotion

Step 2: Disinfecting Your Skin

Picture of Disinfecting Your Skin
The next step is to clean your skin, use a antibacterial soap or rubbing alcohol to clean the area you want to tattoo. This will make sure that the area is prepped for poking.

Step 3: Drawing Your Image

Picture of Drawing Your Image
Then with a regular ball point pen you draw what you want to have your tattoo be. You will follow the lines your draw with the needle and ink later on.

Step 4: Disinfecting Needle and Prep

Picture of Disinfecting Needle and Prep
First poke the needle into the pencil like in the first picture

Then use fire to disinfect the needle, the once the needle cools wrap the needle with string only leaving a bit of the needle at the tip exposed.

Step 5: Inking The Needle

Picture of Inking The Needle
Next take the ink and put a little bit into a jar lid. The take the string wrapped needle and dip the tip into the ink getting a good amount on there. The string will act as a wick as well.
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Wyonaut1 year ago

Awesome instructable. Awesome DIY attitude. While I have some quibbles on the specifics (I'd like to see better options than pencil and thread), it was all explained well and it shows incredible DIY attitude. There is no point in trying to reason with the haters here, they don't want to help. If they wanted to help they would share tips for better technique, better needles, better ink, and better sterilization. They are confusing perfect with best and forgetting the spirit of body art.

If someone is reading this and wants to do it themselves, then telling them to "go to tattoo parlor or your skin and limbs will rot off" is not remotely helpful. Better they get good instruction on how to DIY than try and figure it out for themselves. Putting a few holes in human skin is something we all constantly do by accident in much less than sanitary conditions and the VAST majority of people survive it with very minimal negative effects. The odds greatly favor surviving (and thriving after) it being done on purpose with even minor precautions. The odds are the worst you will have is a new, admittedly probably bad, tattoo.

I have tattoos, my wife has tattoos. We designed all of them, though we had to pay someone else to put them on us. I'd love for my next tattoo to be done by her, even if it looks less than stellar, I will know her spirit is in it. That's what body art is about for me.

DMPeraino1 year ago

It may not be the best idea to do this but thank you for posting a full tutorial for those who plan to do it. This is a really good tutorial in comparison to some others and while stick n' poke is not the best method of getting a tattoo if you plan to do it. A good tutorial is here.

sami.matyas5 months ago
Does pen ink work?

yes sami they use pen ink to do tatoos in jail/prison ect.

Never ever ever use pen ink even if it's labled non toxic!

In prisons and jails etc, any ink is used, not only from pens but from the cloth covers of books etc, such as the A.A. Big Book which can't be denied the prisoners tho the covers may be altered by now. ~(:-})={>---- ]

Thanks so much for putting a well-written instructable on how to do stick and poke tattoos, i would've been lost without you. I got a tooth, it's very personal to me.

Photo on 4-29-15 at 6.38 AM.jpg

Thank you so much for this tutorial. My kitty just passed away and this was the perfect craft project to remember him by.

maliek132 months ago
Can i use nail polish
no no no, do not use nail polish. You need to buy Indian ink or tattoo ink. Anything else will not be permanent and will raise the risk of infection
mistyha1 month ago
I actually got really sore doing it (obviously) and it's a big two letters so I actually had to wait till the next day to finish a little bit of it.
GraceG11 month ago

could i use something like ice to numb the area where i want to put the tattoo? this is my first time and i dont know how sensitive i am to pain.

EmmyBraders1 month ago

does anyone know if piercing cleanser (such as bpa) works for sanatizing the needle??

i did this last night. still needs a second run through but other than that, i followed the guide and it worked. so fasho thanks

kmarie421 year ago
This is in no way sanitary. As a tattoo artist myself I feel like I have to stress that there are high possibilities of infection with this method bc you are pushing bloody ink back into your skin with the thread. It is never wise to try doing your own tattoos it's also not safe and should not be taught as a DIY to anyone.
it also helps to prevent excessive bleeding if petroleum jelly is used.

I am also a tattoo artist.

Well, specifically stated that you don't want to tie the string too far down, so it shouldn't be touching the blood or anything. As long as everything is sterile, I see no problem at all. This method has been used for centuries, and those people turned out just fine. Just because in the modern age, some one who gives a tattoo is labeled as a "tattoo artist" - doesn't make them any more experienced or qualified. People have been modifying their bodies long before we were around. C;

So well put. Bravo. ✌️
IanP3 kmarie425 months ago

when I did both of mine, I went ink, stab, alcohol, repeat. I also swabbed the skin each time with alcohol before stabbing myself again.

benomislimi1 month ago
My tattoo
mantill1 year ago

why wrap the needle with thread?

in order to carry bacteria and infection into and throughout the effected tissue with the greatest efficiency.

NovaO legamin6 months ago

please take your negativity somewhere else. I have not seen one comment that was even remotely positive. you are being dismissive and unkind. every single one of your comments on this thread is annoyingly snobby and condescending.

Hey this is Aaron is this sauna if that's how u spell your name it's me Aaron from school
Bookrestore NovaO4 months ago

I apologize that I'm trying to approach this from a medical point of view. I'm sure that might be unpopular. In fact I have two sleeves and various tattoos that I've had to wear strategic clothing to cover in order to get the jobs I want. Snob? No. Concerned for others to the point of warning of possible dangers? Sure. And I can't stop doing what is morally right.

I do deeply apologize that my comments offend you. I will attempt to be more tactful in the future as it occurs to me that clearly not everyone thinks and feels as I do on this subject. Frankly, due to the medical risks involved I'm surprised the many posts of this subject have been left up.

My advice, if you're still reading, please be careful in the sterilization process, order the proper inks for tattoos (dirt cheap) and ask a local friendly tattoo shop to sterile the thread for you as well. I'm not saying all of these are bad. Only that carelessly prepped and attempted can be a costly and permanent error.

So you have a dribble of ink down the needle to enter the Epidermis.

Like a quill pen

Oh okay! That makes sense lol. :)

JL92 months ago

So, i Can't Use Ink Pen??

Erik Ezrin2 months ago
grillibear12 months ago
grillibear12 months ago
BrittanyB32 months ago

So I did a tattoo a week ago on the palm of my hand and I noticed that it's fading a little.. also I tested it on an area of my softer skin and it just completely came off, almost like a scab. It isn't infected or anything and it doesn't hurt, but is this normal? Does it mean I have to penetrate deeper???

littlewolf123 months ago
As someone who works in the body mods industry i would just like to say one thing; heating the needle on an open flame does not sterilise it -_- for the needle or instrument to be considered sterilised it must be heated to 134.4 degrees (at this temperature bacteria and other microbes cannot survive)..obviously this is not something you can do with a lighter (usually this is done in an autoclave) but since not everyone has access to an autoclave i recommend purchasing sterilised tattoo needles. These can be bought cheaply via ebay or some body mods websites even offer the service. These not only hold the ink better but also reduce the risk of infection. Always remember to swab the skin with an alcohol wipe first. Always wear gloves and wash your hands before and after the tattoo is done :) good luck xx

wait what....???? 134 degrees celsius ?? thats very easily reached by any open flame directly in the flame... a bic lighter will burn at approx 800degrees

Just telling you what i know from experience (And the infection control course that i had to complete as part of my job) Most of the customers i dealt with that had severe infections "sterilised" their needles with a lighter. If you wanna do it that way go for it. But honestly you can pick up pre-sterilised tattoo needles on ebay for like $6. You literally have nothing to lose.
Marsh1 year ago

This style of tattooing originated with a bamboo or bone stylus that you can make yourself. Carve to a sharp point, but let it widen quickly to make it hard to penetrate very deep. Bamboo and bone are porous enough that they will hold plenty of ink without thread (which is a source of infection). Wearing gloves while doing this will reduce the chance of infection too.


Marsh ! Did you carve this yourself? How do you sanitize the bone? Or antler? Thanks !

legamin Marsh1 year ago

use a 'green stick bone' such as a mid leg bode of a yearling deer. What this means is that the bone will still be very dense, non-porous (or nearly so) and ever so slightly flexible so that it can be carved to a fine point without risk of breakage.

Next step is to fasten it to a tamp owning rod to accelerate the impact and reduce hesitation markings or missed hits.

Use a proper tattoo suspension for your dry color particles.

Finally, get yourself to a licensed, bonded and insured master tattoo artist with a good reputation. Look through their book at the several hundred perfect tattoos that are ones he/she has done. Interview other people who have their work..I've on occasion run into, "yeah, their arts okay but they're a real jerk!" Ask yourself if you can handle their personality for several hours or as long as it takes. Make sure they listen to you to 'get' YOUR vision of your perfect tattoo. You don't want flash that hundreds of people have and you don't want 'cartoon' when you asked for realism. Above all, remember, you will pay for the tattoo you get. Don't expect the Mona Lisa or a distinguished back piece for $20 per hour.

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