I'll let Izzy take it from here:
"My sleeve took 11 years to complete. The figure in the center is Dream from the Sandman graphic novel. I first saw it when I was 14, and knew instantly I wanted it tattooed. I got it a few months after I turned 18 by Steve at the Lion's Den in Salem, New Hampshire. Eight years later I was living in San Francisco, and wanted to add to it. I knew it needed some sort of dream imagery, but it was difficult to narrow that down. I began interrogating the basic elements of dreams, and thought one day: 'If DNA is the basis for all human life, could it also be the basis of dream life? What would a strand of dream DNA look like?' Using the work of Patrica Garfield, a clinical psychologist who's identified 12 universal dream themes that transcend age, location, gender, etc. I started designing the double helix; quickly realizing not all 12 would fit on my arm. On my shoulder is a blue moon; in a double-helix pattern around my arm are Royal typewriter keys with hobo symbols (representing communication/ miscommunication), weaving into a peacock from the Russian Tarot of St Petersburg (representing mythical creatures/animal friends). This was done by Natalie Chandler, at the time working at Black and Blue Tattoo.
I wanted to fill in the background, but didn't want to disrupt the double-helix shape. I couldn't figure out how to do that, so I left it alone. A few years later, I was working at Cold Steel Tattoo & Piercing. On a whim one evening I googled 'double helix,' and one of the results was the image of a nebula in the shape of a DNA strand!
The colors and the shape were perfect. I brought it to my friend Vincent Weiner who was tattooing there, and we worked on it in bits and pieces. I tried to pay him, but he refused my money. I asked how I could compensate him for several thousand dollars worth of work. He was waiting for his wife to get her green card, so he said 'Nobody's baking for me right now. I'd really love some chocolate-chip cookies.' For every session I brought cookies, banana bread, cranberry muffins, some weird chocolate-coconut drops...
I'd always dreamed of having stars on the piece, and in Morpheus' eyes. I'd tried surface piercings with PTFE bars, but they all rejected, so I was greatly excited when people began experimenting with dermal anchors and reporting success. About a year later I was living in New Orleans and learned that Adam at Electric Ladyland (now at Slave to the Needle in Seattle) was doing them.
We 'bedazzled' my arm with six Swarovski crystals. They healed nicely until I moved to Chicago, when they suddenly all rejected. Now that I'm back in New Orleans, I'd like to get them reinstalled."This is definitely the first time we've highlighted body art which included dermal anchors. Very cool!
Izzy sent along this prose poem to accompany her contribution:
Blue Roses are Blooming in Safeway
Oracle asses were tickled by gas plumes. We know now—what of it? Ethylene case closed diminished returned to sender . . . send her Erato Echo Glossalalia babble bury shovel stop. I. I. I. Decline. To state. To play. So there. Repeat. Blue roses are blooming in Safeway. Champagne ruby is slang for magnum. Artaud’s black crucifix pupils ablaze in golden eyes I plagiarized because I want to see so badly but I gotta walk past flooded lottos, plainclothes Cutlasses, Dinner, Linner, 4th meal, Dunch—neologisms like I am a woman, half eaten mosquitoes and Teardrop Mike wanting guilty date, a guilty beer, because all American women drink and don’t have any Mexican friends.
Animist, manimal, my keys do not break. There are escalators in my head watering flowerbeds with ropes of crystal spit, burping readymade Rubbermaid green baby coffins, smoking Christmas in a jaundiced sky.
Over beef tea and sheepish mirrors, defective alexandrines tell me it gets easier with practice, hurts a little less each time. Like so much decapitated obsidian, we know not now how high the ledge is very high, this crisis not of poetry but concrete and well, since Pythia choked on the geyser she’s gone now, my hair caught on fire, please tune my viola, I know a few songs from when I was a child. Stardust Memories—yes, I can play that piece quite well.
Thanks to Izzy for her contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!
This entry is ©2012 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.