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 2: 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

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 5: 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.

Step 6: Start Pokin'

Once you have the area clean and prepped, you can start poking.

Yes, it will hurt, yes it will take a while.

Poke into the skin just enough where the dermis sticks a little to the needle. It may take a few tries to get it right. Pull the skin tight to make it easier and follow the lines your drew in the last step.

Keep some paper towels on hand in case you start bleeding.

Step 7: Pokin' Part 2

Once you go over the tattoo once, it may not be dark enough for you so go over it again if you wish.

The area you poke will become a bit raised and swell, this is normal.

Step 8: Aftercare

Afterwards you should clean the tattoo again and put something on it to protect it like saran wrap.

After a few hours you should be able to take the saran wrap off and use regular unscented lotion for a few days. Keep the tattoo out of sunlight for the first 2 days as well.

Hope you enjoyed this instructable, Please comment with any improvements or experiences. I want to thank my friends Rachael, Laura and Misha for letting them document the tattooing process. Im actually too much of a wussy and didn't get one, but now i wrote up this instructable i really should.

Instructables robot maybe?

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Wyonaut6 months 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.

DMPeraino7 months 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.matyas10 days ago
Does pen ink work?
kmarie427 months 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.
IanP3 kmarie4214 days 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.

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;

i have two stick and poke tattoos currently. i used india ink for mine and they turned out fine. they're smaller tattoos on the insides of my fingers and they look good, if i do say so myself. if you wash the desired area and sterilize your needle, you have nothing to worry about. i didn't get sick or infected from this method, and neither have my friends who have also done this.

mantill7 months ago

why wrap the needle with thread?

legamin mantill7 months ago

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

NovaO legamin1 month 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.

Maxamil mantill7 months ago

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

Maxamil Maxamil7 months ago

Like a quill pen

Maxamil Maxamil7 months ago

mantill Maxamil7 months ago

Oh okay! That makes sense lol. :)

vanessa.e.correal made it!2 months ago

I did 2 tattoos using this method about 10 years ago. Everything was fine, didn't have any infections or complications. Of course, I had to touch up my tattoos twice but I didn't have any problem. You have to be sure that the skin is clean, same for the needle or your hands. You have to wash your tattoos for at least 1 month to 1 month a half everything with non-parfumed soap. So if you're getting one, you have to be sure to sterilize everything very well.

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KaareS2 months ago

haters gonna hate. I did my own and i didn't contract any illnesses. tragic right?

felixloos3 months ago

can I also use china ink (used for calligraphy) :)

creativeneko4 months ago

I've got a great addition for this article: get it done by a proffessional with a good portfolio.

beardedinventor made it!6 months ago

I've been planning a stick 'n poke for a while - and this instructable definitely helped!

I'm not exactly a fan of your method of sterilization - I boiled the pin I used for about 10 minutes, which I felt a bit more comfortable with.. but other than, really good :)

People can hate on the look of stick 'n pokes all they like. I love mine - and a big part of the reason I wanted one was for the aesthetic.

photo (1).JPG

What did you do to clean yours?

And how long did it take to heal?

Also - I would recommend that the person giving the stick 'n poke wear gloves!

MrWain6 months ago

I disapprove of this.

LadyLelan7 months ago

I am absolutely appalled to see this instructable featured in today's newletter. Not only is it unsafe and a serious health hazard, the results are also just plain awful.

Whoever decided to have that featured in the newsletter should review their way of selecting.

First, allow me to say that I have tattoos as well as piercings.

My first tattoo was done with a mail order "machine" that consisted of a bass string, a motor, and a straw... it hurt like hell and didn't look good at all, so I don't agree with this type of practice... BUT, if you look at the traditional methods of the Asian and Polynesian cultures you'll see that this is not a far cry from that.

Perhaps this is more informational in a demonstrative way as to why you shouldn't do it... OR perhaps they are showing you measures that are more hygienic than those taken in jail houses.

Regardless, tattooing and piercing are a part of our American culture and they are not going anywhere so it seems normal to me to see this type of instructable and I commend they the site for going ahead and showing it.

This is unsanitary and causes all sorta of infections and risks. Just go get someone whose been trained in tattoo do it.
Hey Guys im a tattoo artist and i really advise against this, Simple things such as these are probably not going to be clean and its actually an easy way to get Hep B. Dont be an idiot and be cheap and unsafe for something that is permanent and going to be on you until you go to an actual tattooist and get it covered up or somewhere to get it removed very painfully. Go to a reputable shop if you want work done. I cant tell you how many times ive seen people with crappy home made tattoos coming into fix it. Seriously, think before you act.

Unless the needle has been in contact with blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person, it is impossible to contract Hep B (or any other disease of this sort).

skippershoneywell, unfortunately that is incorrect. Using a needle poking it into the skin like this and it not being properly sterile and not using sterile ink is a risk of many pathogens and virus like Hep B and MERSA among many that can live outside the body on surfaces and on the surface of your skin. The needle doesn't have to be in direct contact with bodily fluids. They can live outside the body for up to 7 days. It can live on the surface of your skin without risk of transmission, UNTIL your protective skin is compromised by repeated poking with this non sterile needle. Also as this instructable showed, this dangerous behavior is often done with friends and if one of them is positive with Hep B or many other blood borne pathogens or any virus and may not know, they risk exposing the others. Using the needle on one person then improperly sterilizing the needle before using it on the next person or using the same pencil in this case but with a fresh needle is still a risk sine the virus can survive on the "equipment". This is why a proper tattoo artist covers their machine and power cable as well as their work area.

Bottom line it is dangerous and VERY stupid for someone untrained and without the proper equipment. I know more than one person that was dumb enough to do this when they were young and always regretted it and had to go to a real tattoo artist to have it covered up. Doing this to your self or someone else without experience is just going to lead to mistakes and damage. Scaring being a big issue. If you don't know what you're doing and scar the skin deeply, even with a cover up the original scar will always be visible.

To a certain extent I agree. As a layperson I've pierced parts of my own body but would never pierce another person or let another layperson pierce me. You can however still get nasty bacterial infections from the environment as a few others above have pointed out. Many healthy people carry MRSA on their skin but if you give it a way to get inside your body you're in trouble.

All in all it is still easier to get sick at the doctors.

Yeah yeah, I've been tattooing professionally for twenty years now, and you can sing that song til you're blue in the face, but they're not going to listen. The best guidance is to tell them how to keep it clean: use new needles, sterile if possible, prep the skin before tattooing with good soaps, and wear gloves.

Hand stuck tattooing is a skill unto itself, and with the right practitioner, can be every bit as beautiful as an electric tattoo. Japanese tebori being a great example. Oscillating relay machines haven't been around that long, and in many parts of the world, hand application is still regularly practiced. Plus, I wouldn't get tattooed at 70 % of the studios I've visited. Too many blowhards who lack the skills to apply proper work who pretend they can. Everybody starts somewhere, and I have yet to meet an artist who doesn't have a raft of terrible work from their old days which haunts them. Even the mighty Ed Hardy, a giant in his day, spent a few years tattooing under an alias in Vancouver Canada before returning to the US. One can only assume it was to grind out the duds as far away from home as possible.

I'm looking forward to getting some tribal work done in a village where the artist does traditional tat-tat work. But even in the village they use sterile procedure and autoclave the bamboo fibers. As a medical professional with extensive 'black and white' single needle work I still would never allow some DIY hack to practice on my skin.

i never suggested you get a DIY hack to touch you. i was suggesting that in light of the fact that this type of tattooing is practiced, it only makes sense that as a "medical professional", you'd do a service to the community as a whole by helping to educate would-be scab vendors rather than simply condemning the activity. it's akin to hoping teens will practice abstinence and not providing them with any education about safer sex.

and for naysayers griping about this instructable being posted: this is an excellent opportunity for dialogue. i'm not saying i approve, but i know all the finger wagging in the world isn't going to stop it happening. that in mind, i can only offer advice on sterile procedure and prevention of cross contamination, and hope that the kids decide to do it clean.

My friend is a professional stick n' poke tattoo artist. She has
stick n' poked much of her body and has stick n' poked over 100 people,
now. She has even stick n' poked tattoo artists for gun tattoos in return. Her art is beautiful and professional, safe and sterile. She moved
away but has to return to the city twice a month for tattoo
appointments. She uses professional needles and wears gloves. A friend of hers travels the world to do stick n' pokes as well.
I don't know anyone who has done their own stick n' poke or received a
stick n' poke from my friend to have infections or develop problems from
this method of tattooing.

tomjasz6 months ago

Nice to see prison skills come to instructables. NOT! WTF are the editors thinking. This is what I get for a premium membership? Never mind the dirty nails and unsanitary technique, there is nothing resembling ancient cultural practices in this instructable. Poor design even as a jail house skill set.

MrIlson176 months ago


leprowler7 months ago

I use India ink, I did a stick poke tattoo in blue India ink when I was 11, and it's still there, and I wasn't infected at all.

a.steidl7 months ago
I made a tattoo done before I used a bent spoon an empty pen tube, inc tube. minus the inc. mounted .cr motor to it. Spindle off center like a.train wheel. 9vdc. battery. ran like a champ. may make another and make an ible

With a Guitar string?, and I've soldered needles on a thin stiff wire too. I've made a couple like that and have never even caught a cold =///====> many, many, many, many, Many Others too, it just takes a person with reasonable common sense I figure. > I'd like to have a nickle for every Farmer, Rancher, sportsman, and trespasser that scratched Themselves on an old rusty Barb Wire fence - (Mostly found out of the city) - and just let it heal naturally many times with a basic cleaning with soap and water, that can be done.without any 911 or an appointment and shot that most Folks can little afford. Only Professionals can afford many of those things. Working People don't have the price or time for every thing, that's why They take care of Themselves. If Folks eons ago could use a sharp rock and soot, We should still have a constitution to do common little activity's tattooing isn't brain surgery - I suppose it depends on how ever much of a sheltered childhood They've had. What Frenzy is sharing in a take it or leave it way is a simple call, and no matter the sterile environment of a shop there's even less chance of nasty's. The Lord gave Us all a mind to think with, and know right from wrong without some one insisting We All march to Their Drum Beat. Poor ol' Legamen is having a devil of a time wringing His hands and trying to send People with little ways or means = $$$.$$ to His Pros {cool advice for sure}. I know I've never been able to afford one even tho I'd like to some time.. Dunno' I'm 65 now I guess I'll have to sell My old rattly-bang pickup or something if I'm going to make it before D-Day, I say let intelligent Adults think for themselves, many more People are depending on services and more services, as was said We will make livings delivering Pizza Pies, even by internet now days.

Thank you!! People thinking for themselves, what a concept! I'm a bit of an atheist, myself, but the point is the same: let people do what they want, and deal with the consequences, themselves! I've been thinking of doing some more artwork on myself, maybe on my feet or legs. Let nature decide which.

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