We have an apprentice at the shop. There are only so many things you can do and learn before you start working on people. Over the years I have seen people practice on grapefruit, chicken, leather, bananas, melons and “fake skin”. There are disadvantages to all of these and none of them really approximate skin.
TeeJay, Joe and Starr were bouncing ideas around of things that might be more helpful for gauging depth control. Joey came up with the idea to put a slice of cheese on a balloon. Go too deep, the balloon pops and you get instant feed back on how deep is too deep.
We did happen to have some sliced cheese at the shop (a little too thick) but alas no balloons. An empty water jug took it’s place. This actually was really beneficial as you have to stabilize the water jug just like a person (although we would never hold a client in place with our knees).
Starr had already left for the night by the time that the cheese experiment began…. but TeeJay, Pam, Nadia and Joey all gave it a go. Nadia had never held a tattoo machine before (she is our receptionist in Webster) so it gave us some different feed back as to how useful of an experiment it was.
The extra ink can not be wiped away without damaging the cheese (blotting or washing afterwards help some) and the integrity of the cheese was too variable for consistently good linework… but it was a useful experiment and with some thinner cheese (or maybe a processed cheese that is more consistent) I think it would actually be a beneficial exercise.
And you can eat what you don’t tattoo. Actually you could eat what you tattooed as well, but neither vaseline nor Instablack are tasty.
The cheese did better when it was first out of the fridge. Hanging around makes the cheese soft and squishy. Perhaps if we left it around long enough to start to dry out it would be easier to work with.
This is what happens in tattoo shops when you aren’t looking.