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Basic tattoo equipmentTattoo tubes & grips

Most people have a general grasp of what it takes to do a tattoo, however some aren’t sure of the basic necessities that are required to preform a sterile, and proper tattoo. The following are names, and descriptions of the items you will need to get started.

Autoclave: By far one of the most important items in a tattoo shop. The autoclave provides a way for the needles, grips, and tubes to be sterilized properly. Autoclaves are a device that exposes items to steam at high pressure in order to decontaminate the materials and render them sterile. All of the items will need to be wrapped individually and un-wrapped in front of the client.

Ultrasonic: The ultrasonic is a device that emits high frequency vibrations to remove deposits of ink throughout the tattoo. It should also be used before changing ink pigments. It is also used prior to the sterilization of grips, and tubes to break up dried ink.

Tattoo machine: This of course is one of the most important items in a tattoo artist’s arsenal. The machine utilizes electromagnetic coils in alternation to move the needle bar up, and down which drives the pigment into the skin. You will also need a power supply, clip cord, and foot pedal.

Tubes and grips: The back tube is inserted into the machine, and is used to align the needles properly in the machine. The grips, are a vital part in making sure your hands don’t get cramped during the tattoo process. Most male artists find that 1 ½ inch grips are the most comfortable fit, as a female artist I prefer the 1 inch, or ½ inch grips depending on what I am doing.

Needles: Tattoo needles come in a variety of sizes, your standard needles for lining are 3 round liners, or 5 round liners. Common shading needles are the flats, or mags. Flat needles stack the needles on two , or three rows depending on the size. Mags have a staggered stack of needles which allows a more even flow of pigment.

Green soap: This is a liquid soap made of vegetable oils, it is used in cleaning the skin in preparation for the tattoo. It serves as an ideal way to clean excess ink from the work in progress, and also upon completion of the tattoo before it is covered.

Petroleum or Bacitracin: These are used in similar manners, however the Petroleum is only used for the lubrication throughout the tattoo. Bacitracin can be used throughout to aid in lubrication, and after the tattoo is completed.

Plastic cup: This seems rather mediocre, however it will provide a way for you to use your ultrasonic without the risk of cross-contamination.

Spray bottles: You should have a spray bottle filled with Green soap, and one with water. The water will aid you in making washes of color.

Plastic covers: You should always cover all of your non-disposable items. Spray bottles, Machine, Clip cord, and ink bottles.

Plastic wrap: The plastic wrap should be placed on any surfaces that the tattoo will be on. Such as chair arms, and tattoo beds. This also prevents cross-contamination from one client to the next.

Ink: You may find that you will have to go through several brands of ink to find the ones you like. Look for an ink that stays vibrant in the skin after completion of the tattoo, ease of application, and make sure you don’t have to turn your client’s skin into hamburger for it to properly penetrate the skin.

Ink caps and holder: The ink caps are small plastic cups that are used to hold the ink. You should always fill the cups prior to tattooing. If you need to re-fill the caps, remove your gloves and do so. Keep the tip of the ink bottle away from the ink caps! As they will become contaminated throughout the tattooing process.

Gloves: The gloves are self explanatory, you should always try to use latex free gloves as some clients may have allergies. Gloves that are powdered can irritate the skin.

Sharps or hazard bin: This is a bin that you will deposit needles, and ink cups into as they are one-time use items and become contaminated through the tattooing process. The hazards bin should be disposed of properly after it is full. You will need to look up your local laws on hazardous waste disposal.


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