Supply Review

3 Step Tattoo Healing Regimen from Pride Aftercare by TATSoul

by on Jan.23, 2014, under Supply Review

3 Step Tattoo Healing Regimen from Pride Aftercare by TATSoul via


As a tattoo artist, it’s also important to protect your work from the fading and discoloration that can affect tattoos if they’re not properly treated. Although it’s not possible to make sure your clients are consistent with their aftercare routine, you can suggest the right products that will heal and protect your artwork that they wear.

Pride Aftercare by TATSoul has a three step system to cleanse, heal and protect new tattoos. The cleanser, ointment and lotion are specially formulated with natural ingredients to work together for best results.

The latest addition in Pride Aftercare’s system is the Tattoo Ointment. Pride Aftercare Tattoo Ointment is specifically formulated to heal tattoos so you can be assured that the gentle ingredients will in no way affect the new ink. Unlike other ointments, Pride Aftercare’s oil remains intact, allowing for better consistency and protection (see below).


Pride Aftercare’s Tattoo Ointment contains no dyes or fragrances and is approved by tattoo professionals and skin care specialists for its moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients. It may also be used to treat minor skin irritations.

Whether it’s your own tattoo or a piece you’ve just completed, make sure to treat it with the Pride Aftercare system to cleanse, heal and protect your new tattoo. Keep your work remaining vibrant for years to come.

Learn more:

Pride Aftercare’s Website:

Pride Aftercare’s Instagram: @prideaftercare

Pride Aftercare’s Facebook:


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Veritas Irons Sage Liner and Shader Review

by on Jan.03, 2014, under Supply Review

I am going to write this review as a dual review, both the liner and shader at once.

liner and shader tattoo machines

We recieved the Veritas Irons Sage Liner and Shader tattoo machines as our first set of machines for review. I have put them through a few months of daily wear and they are smooth running machines that are solidly built. Hard hitting no joke daily money makers i would say. Upon arrival the liner was dead. I was a little concerned, but a quick call to Greg and he had it figured out that during shipping the top rear binding post had spun loose, this is where he admitted a design flaw, the rear upright is so close to the allen wrench screw that you need to cut your allen wrench short in order to get it in there. Pretty cool that he was humble enough to point out a flaw and say he has addressed it in his new deisign of this frame. In a fairly brief conversation I could tell that Greg knew what he was talking about regarding tattoo machines and obviously building them..

Veritas Shader Tattoo Machine

Theses tattoo machines have a fairly unique design, with each piece being separate then dovetailed together with a weld from the inside. At first I was a little thrown off by this but after putting them through the rigors of daily use I can say them seem solid as all hell. When I spoke with Greg , he said he cnc machines all the pieces and created a jig to fit everything in place. Most of his parts (binding posts A, bar, etc.) are prefab from a supplier here in mass. One criticism I have with this design is the gap that is created by the rear spring deck, it seems to be fo a few millimeters difference from the rear upright to the actual rear deck and at such a crucial point of any tattoo machine, I feel like it could cause undue tension and fatigue on the spring. A quick plane of that area after the weld could alleviate that “problem”.

Techy stuf:Frames are blued steel, great finish! Sidewinder rear shooting style rear binders. 8 layer coils on both machines, the shader having one and a quarter inch coils and the liner has one inch with a quarter inch yoke. .018 front and back springs on both setups. 22uF35v capacitor on both machines. The liner runs 8.9volts @ 120hz 43% duty , and the shader runs 7 volts @ 100hz 46% Duty as taken off of my critical cx-2 power supply. Short snappy stroke on the liner and a medium/long stroke on the shader. I pushed everything from a 5 mag to a 15 mag in the shader with out any problems what so ever. The liner runs beautifully with 5’s , 7’s and 9’s, I usually don’t go any bigger then that so I couldn’t tell you if it can handle a 14, althought it seems to me it would not be an issue for this powerhouse.

linder and shader tattoo machines

A unique vice grip setup on both tattoo machines where he cut a slot so the right hand side of the vice clamp is free floating held in place by the vice screw. It works like a dream for disposables and has me eyeballing some of the problem machines in my collection, although Greg strongly advises to let a pro do it, as you can seriously alter how your machine runs if you start hacking away at it! The vice screw is one point of weakness I see, I have gorilla mits and tighetn things harder then I realize at times, and I can see already that the dimes used for the vice screws are bending the weld is rock solid, its just the flimsy american money that cannt hold up.

linder and shader tattoo machines

As far as criticisims for this machines I have a few small ones, but they are simply based off of personal preference . First like I said was the vice srew, secondly I would have to say that the fact that the contact screw has nothing on top is troublesome. I usually have to turn a tattoo machines contact screw after three to six months and with nothing to hold on to that could hurt. Another thing is the shader’s front coil could use a .025 shim in my opinion, the rear coil is close to the point of almost touching and I could see with a solid 6 months of wear and tear on the front coil top, where you could run into an issue. The front coil is not perfectly parallel with the bottom of the machine, seems to be leaning forward a tad, I think that a shim thrown in there would get the coil off the wire a bit more, increse levelness and help out a ton. Finally I would say that the coil holes being slotted makes no sense, not like you are going to move them forward or backward of where they are . The fact that there is a slot from the back point of the vice hole to the front of the first coils slot seems to make an undue weakness in the frame. Again these are all just personal preferences.

All in all, I think these unique machines are smooth steady runners. Greg knows what he is doing and from a few conversations with him he already identified a few of the things i brought up so you know with every machine he is just getting better and better. Well worth the money i would surely keep using these machines for years on end. Check out and for more info.

Ben –

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Soba Brass Deluxe Pilot Shader Tattoo Machine Review

by on Dec.06, 2013, under Supply Review

Holy lag time batman! I got the Soba Brass Deluxe Pilot Shader tattoo machine for review like, um, well….a looooong while ago! Soba sent it my way to put through the daily rigors and see what I could say both positive and negative about it. With the way my year has been it has been rough to get myself sat down in front of the computer to type all this stuff in! That is a good thing though!! What I am reviewing is not the production model,  but besides the coil covers it’s no different then what you would order at Workhorse Irons.

shader tattoo machine soba

I will run you through all the specifics of this machine first and foremost. It is a silicon bronze investment cast machine, pretty much the smoothest running of the common metals used for tattoo machines due to it’s density. More density equals less vibrations. Many would gripe about the weight but it really is not an issue with this machine as the guys over at Workhorse Irons have drilled holes in the upright to lighten the tattoo machine. It is similar in weight to all the other full sized machines on my rack, daily driver weight for sure.

Coils are 1.125″ 8 layer, iron coil core wrapped with premium wire, covered in green gaffers tape, with phenolic tops and bottoms. They sit on a 1/8″ yoke and are shimmed perfectly where the a-bar is parallel to the bottom deck, with a sliver of light showing through the back coil top and the a-bar . The capacitor is an industry standard 47uF35v. Springs are hand cut and punched .018 front and back, with a slim taper to the front spring. The rear All of the hardware on the Brass Deluxe Pilot Shader is deluxe brass that is all turned in house at Workhorse Irons, the shoulder washers match the phenolic on the coils. The use of Torx screws and cap head screw insures you wont have to break out the dremel to slot that son of a bitch button head allen wrench that just stripped out on your tattoo machine!! Just as icing on the cake they have made an antiqued brass Workhorse Irons thumbsrecw that is so solid you never have to worry about a sketchy weld letting loose of your coin while you are tightening the vice.

shader tattoo machine

Having put this tattoo machine through a few months of daily work, I can say it is super smooth running shader and color packer. I have whipped out smoothness and laid in some super solid large fields of color. Sweet looking, ultra versatile, solidly built with ultra precision Attention to detial is very high, and with Soba it’s a given that things are gonna match and be just a great overall package! The only negative I can say about it is the tube vice tends to be a bit tight if you are using disposable tubes regularly. Soba is always one to accommodate and if you are worried about that he can make adjustments for you when you order.

In all, I would say that at $350 off of these tattoo machines are well worth that investment. Something that you could pass onto the next generation of tattooers when you are old and grey and wrinkly, and i am sure they could pass to the next after them! Soba is a really great guy with the integrity it takes to make it in this business. I highly recommend checking out Soba machines at Workhorse Irons.
-Ben Reigle

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The Soul of a New Machine Part One: Builder “Timeless”

by on Sep.11, 2013, under Supply Review

Edited by: Trent Aitken-smith , Originally appeared in Tattoo Master Magazine, Issue Twenty One

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Name: Andy Dykes (Timeless)
Location: England
Years Building: 7
Contact Details:

I tattooed my first customer around 2006. It was the outline of a piece of tribal on my buddy’s leg. Let’s just say it was a nerve-racking experience to say the least.

My previous job, before I stated tattooing, was as an apprentice tool maker. So as you can imagine, It wasn’t long after I started tattooing that I started to ‘tinker’ with my machines; probably because they were all crap and never ran as they should. I started off with rebuilds for myself, then for a couple artist I know, and then I progressed onto making frames… with nothing but a hack saw, drill press and bench sander, they were all bot up frames.
After a while I stated to save up some cash so I could purchase a manual mill and a lathe, which made life so much easier. Also at the same time, my dad taught me how to weld. It wasn’t long after I started figuring out how to make all the components needed to build a solid, handmade machine.

It was from a local tattoo supplier, very prematurely in my career; I didn’t know any better and wasted my money. I still have that machine ad it definitely will never get used again. I’ve been tempted to rebuild it on numerous occasions but as it was my first, I’m going to keep it all original as a memento.

It can only be described as a heap of junk. It had a bolt-up fame that resembled a Zeiss animal marker. It didn’t run too well at all. It was solid, but I didn’t give any though to geometry at all-to this day it’s by far the slowest machine I have ever built…and it was supposed to be a liner.

It’s too hard to say. I have a lot of builders I admire and have drawn inspiration from over the years. I’d say all-time favorites would be Percy Waters or Paul Rogers. As for modern day favorites, ids probably say Scott Sylvia, Morgan Pettit, and Donnie Irish, Build my favorite machines that I only personally… Closely followed by half-a-dozen others.

I try to base my machines off the old classics. They did all the hard work, they figured to what would or wouldn’t work. That’s probably why I like my machines to look old and distressed. They have more soul and look like they have a story to tell.

It only use steel/iron to build my machines. I’m thinking of getting into brazing a little more, so maybe in the future I may also start using some brass from time to time.

I haven’t been building machines to tattooing long enough to give a worthwhile opinion. Although, in the short time I have been building machines, I have noticed more and more ‘machine builders’ coming out of the woodwork. Most only assemble machines, and 99 percent wouldn’t know how to build a machine from raw materials.
The cheap, imported and readily available parts and machines that are ever present on certain auction websites, as well as numerous other websites. It makes any one with an allen key, who can tighten half a dozen or so screws, into a machine builder these days.

Its hard to predict. As long as people support builders who put time, effort and care into building a machine, then hopefully it’ll be good. Tattoo artist often moan about people putting out sub-standard tattoos on people and encourage customers to go the artist that can do the tattoo the most justice, regardless of time and price… well the same can be said about tattoo machines. Do your research, get recommendations, and find the right person for the job.

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The Soul of a New Machine Part One: Builder “The Man In Black”

by on Sep.04, 2013, under Supply Review

Edited by: Trent Aitken-smith , Originally appeared in Tattoo Master Magazine, Issue Twenty One

I have always loved tattoos, but my love of tattoo machines came about much later; it took a visit to a machine builder’s workshop and seeing a machine being built from scratch that changed it all. From that day, I saw the soul of a hand-built machine, and since then, I have been fascinated. When I became editor of this magazine, I wanted to acknowledge builders who do everything by hand, and so , the Hand-Built Machine Award was born. Five Builders were chosen from around the world to take part; the brief, make a hand- machine that not only looks great but works hard too. So here we go, let me introduce the five machine builders up for first ever, Hand- Built Machine Award…

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Name: John Black (The Man In Black)
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Years Building: 34
Contact Details: [email protected]

I built my first machine from scratch in 1979.

I think my favorite machine man would have to be Paul Rogers, Then leon Miller.

My favorite Design would have to be a simple and plain pre-fab. I’m influenced by many things. But most of all I’m driven by the deep-seated desire to just make things and enjoy life.

I really like working with iron and old rail road spikes.

The biggest change I’ve noticed lately is people making an effort to get back to a clean, basic build. It’s nice to see people making a machine and refraining from gluing crap all over it.

The biggest harm, I think, would have to be… too many people buying frames, coils, etc., and then trying to see them from a premium price devaluing the work of craftsmen.

I’m not going to try and predict the future of machine building; it’s got so screwed up in the past 15 years. I’d hate to think it was right in the future, much less next year. As a tattooer I’ve come to grips with my life and thoughts on tattooing. My tattoos will be dead and gone many years from now, but the tools I make, that people make a living with, will be here as long as the iron doesn’t rust away. And that’s some good shit.

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Ink The World

by on Aug.28, 2013, under Supply Review

Written by: Terry “Tramp” Welker & Trent Aitken-smith , Originally appeared in Tattoo Master Magazine, Issue Twenty One

Eternal Tattoo Supply is one of the long-established, worldwide names in the tattoo world. Started over 30 years ago by veteran tattooer, Terry ‘Tramp’ Welker, ETS is going stronger than ever… and that’s no surprise given the skills and knowledge that Tramp has accumulated since first opening his studio, eternal tattoos, in Detroit in 1980. So when the opportunity to have a chat with Tramp about how it all started and how things have changed over the years came about, we grabbed it with both hands

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Like most artists back in the ‘70s and the early ‘80s, tattooing was still very private; it was almost a secret how things were done. We were making our own needles, stencils, ink everything. You could get powder pigment from Spaulding and National and things were very simple. Most of us were only using primary colors, so your complete set only had eight to ten colors. For different shades, I’m sure most of us mixed it right in our ink caps.

“Remember, I started tattooing in 1976 and opened Eternal Tattoos in 1980. Back then there were only a handful of shops in each city and most of us learned by trial and error. When mixing my inks, I would ask around and I also ordered some Spaulding pigments and mixed it with Listerine and a drop of Glycerine. I would experiment and add a drop of Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, put it in a kitchen blender and mix it to the consistency I wanted”

And from those humble beginnings Eternal Ink was born. After making all the inks for his own studio and with the steady rise in popularity of tattooing making the shop busier, Tramp hired a couple of artist to apprentice and work for him.

“Whenever we needed ink I would ask them, ‘Hey, do any of you want to learn how?’ they always said no because it was so messy, and so they didn’t want to do it”

However they still wanted the inks and they would badger Tramp, telling him that he should think about making them up himself and selling them on. And that’s just what he did.

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“Being in the Business for over 33 years, I’ve been very fortunate to meet and know a lot of artist. With me doing the motor city Tattoo Expo for the past 18 years, along with my convention partner Brian Everett, and also hosting the Texas Tattoo Round-up for 13 years, I’ve met a lot of great artist, this being said, I was able to put my inks into the hands of a lot of artist when eternal ink started. I would hand my inks out and just ask for feedback from the artist. I made adjustments when needed and worked on my consistencies to be the best on the market. In the beginning I also had another person involved that wasn’t an artist who I put a lot of trust in. They ended up leaving and it was actually a blessing having them gone.”

Around the same time, a new music channel would start a new surge in people looking to get tattooed… things were about to jump forward in tattooing.

“Like I said, back in the beginning, the few colors we used were great. We were all doing mostly traditional tattoos. But then MTV came along and all the rock stars were getting tattoos and practically overnight tattooing changed- pro athlete, wrestlers, football players, basketball players… everyone was getting tattooed. It got to the point that I ended up opening five tattoo shops in and around Detroit. We were so busy it was crazy. All of a sudden everyone wanted to be a tattoo artist. Back in the day, I ended up apprenticing some of the biggest name in the industry – Tom Renshaw, Jay Wheeler, Marshal Bennett, Bob Tyrell- just to name a few.”

But one of the downsides of the rise on demand for tattoos and tattoos supplies was that Tramp ended up having to stop tattooing to run his business. A warehouse was built just outside of Detroit and Tramp began to spend all of his time there, concentrating more on his inks.

“My son Jesse was, and is also a tattoo artist, and I finally got him to come out and help me with the inks. Jesse has tattooed for 20 years and now he runs the ink mixing room. With over 150 colors and working with so many great artist, we pride ourselves on not only being tattoo artists but on making the best tattoo inks on the market,… and with the best consistency, second to none. Our color blends are perfect match each time. Our job is to give the tattoo artist what they want each and every time; our dedication is to them.

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But eternal is no longer just an ink supply company. Over the years, Tramp has worked hard in building it into a solid tattoo supply business, where it is hard not to find exactly what you need.

“Eternal tattoo supply and eternal ink continue to grow each year. I have been fortunate enough to see that industry expand and keep on growing. And with society now seeing tattooed people as the norm with most people having tattoos, or at least knowing someone with a tattoo; it has become much more acceptable in the working field. At one time, and still in some cases, people were afraid to show their tattoos thinking they would be look at differently, but now with so many people being heavily tattooed and the quality of the work being done, people are asking to look at your tattoos because of how good the work is.

“Over the years we have become a full supply company and our goal is to give the artists the pest products we can. Being artist ourselves, we can understand the wants and needs of the artist ad we can answer any questions they may have. Anytime we get a call from the artist and one of my staff feels they can’t give the right answer or if someone wants to speak directly to me, I’ll take the call, and if I can’t take the call right them, I make it a point to return all calls. My relationship with the artist, knowing their needs, and providing them with the highest and best quality of ink, is my priority. I’m working with some of the best artist in the industry and making colors for some of them which gives us all different shades and blenders, so the artist has everything all made for them. I continue to search out the best products needles, tubes, machines, etc., to give the artist the best of the best.”

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And with all this work, dose Tramp still get time to tattoo?

“I guess you could say I’m totally focused on ETS. With so much going on each day at my warehouse, between the inks and our line of tattoo machines, it doesn’t leave me a lot of time to do much more, I did a tattoo last year- I felt very happy doing it and it was a lot of fun. It’s like riding a bike, once you figure it out and learn it, you don’t forget it. With all the time in between tattooing and not tattooing I think I got better at tattooing.”

The tattoo world is a fickle place, and for someone like Tramp and Eternal Tattoo Supply to stay the distance, there has to be more than just a great product. And it’s not only hard work and dedication; it is being a part of something you truly believe in and love.

“Man, I’m old school, and I’ll never forget where I came from and where I started. I was a one-man shop when I started out. Tattooing has been good to me and I try and give back as much as I can. I’ve been here from the late ’70s when there were only a handful of shops, to the mid-‘80s when the industry started picking up and then in ‘90s when tattooing exploded, I don’t want to look back on any regrets, because what’s done is done. I’ve made a lot of friends doing what I do and without them and the artists’ support; we wouldn’t be where we are today. This is what feeds my family and the great group of people I have working for me, we continue to move forward because of them… the Artists.”

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The Right Stuff

by on Aug.26, 2013, under Supply Review

Written by: Mario Rosenau & Trent Aitken-smith , Originally appeared in Tattoo Master Magazine, Issue Twenty One

Mario Rosenau started Stencil Stuff back in early 2006; before then, he had been making his own stencil transfer based on an old, passed down recipe, but was finding that it never worked the way he wanted. At the time, Mario and Mike DeMasi (Art Junkies co-owners) were really pushing the realm of color realism,and as their designs were very complex, they needed their stencil to stay on better in order to pull off what they were doing…
In an effort to come up with a better product, mike began to play around with the old formula to see if he could improve on the recipe.

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“after some trial and error, i was able to create a better sticking solution. At the time i was just making it for all of us in the shop. then one day, on of the guys in the shop said, ‘hey, this stuff works so well you should sell it!” A few of the guys laughed and teased me, but being very competitive in life i was like, ‘Oh yeah, ok, we’ll see. i’ll show you’. And that is how it started. the name stencil stuff was really or nickname for it and it just stuck. The guys would shout, ‘you got any of that stencil stuff?’ The name just seemed to fit”.

In the beginning, Mario spend a lot of time trying to work out how to make stencil stuff a viable product, as well as figuring out the means to get it onto the streets and into the public’s hands.

“i knew from my background before it began tattooing, that doing it myself, although it may have worked, was not really the right way to mass produce stencil stuff…nor was it perfect. After countless hours of research, i was able to team up with one of the leading chemists in the skin care industry. together we created a formula that was free of any harmful chemicals and was safe to be used for what it was intended to be used for.”

Right around the time Mario was Finalizing the formula for Stencil Stuff, one of this best friends, Mike DeVries, came on board as his partner. With everything falling into place and two creative and passionate minds working towards the same goal, Stencil Stuff started making its mark on the tattoo world.

“Mike is a very special guy and we think alike when it comes to developing things. Stencil Stuff really went to a whole new level when we partnered up and it was a perfect fit for us. We had the same goal, to develop products that would improve our industry. It is the most important thing to us. What really separates us from everyone else is that we work hands on and with professionals that understand what is needed to created safe products. Products that are lab tested and approved so as to be able to safely state that they are hypoallergenic and safe. We have invested a lot of time and money into our products, and it feels good to know that people appreciate the extra steps have taken to make sure that what we do is the highest quality for them and their clients. we really take pride in what we do. it’s really crazy to think that we have developed a product that has a brand name in which everything is called byt the same label…Stencil Stuff. it’s kind of like what the name Kleenex is for tissues. it’s just surreal”

In the beginning, Mario started running the business out of his house, but it didn’t take long to outgrow the space and it would be several more moves before stencil stuff found its current location.

“almost two years ago we purchased a warehouse in southern California. At times i wonder how long it will be before we will have to expand that. the warehouse is not open to the public as it really is just a warehouse to ship products out of. I have a shipping manager that handles all shipments and a full-time outside salesman that handles all of the accounts. We have a lot of dealers out there. we are currently shipping all over the world and expanding into new countries every week, Larger amounts of products are shipped directly from our Manufacturer, which is a good thing because we would need to place three times the size if we did it all.

“it’s been a learning experience for sure. if you look at our bottles you will see multiple languages as we follow all the guidelines so we comply with all regulations… which is really what we are about, going to above and beyond. What most people are doing our there. Sometimes the Things we do are not even enforced in our industry, So if we follow these high standards, we really feel that we are making sure our customers will get the best out of our products.”

And Stencil Stuff is not the only product that mario and the team produce. there is a lot more ‘stuff’ on their shelves that are gaining just as much popularity as the original.

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“We created Spray Stuff which is used to keep your marker drawings on better. Artist that use it really love it! We put the same quality into it to ensure its safeness and it really does work great. it’s the only thing on the market like it.

“We have some amazing new products coming out this year. The first one we are super-excited about because it’s something we have not had that was developed specifically for its purpose… prep Stuff. And it does just what it says! You use it to prep the skin before you apply the stencil. it sanitizes the skin by removing 99.9 percent of bacteria that can be harmful when you’re tattooing. However, unlike soaps or alcohol, it will not remover the important oils in the skin that are needed for good healthy healing. it also makes the Stencil Stuff and Spray Stuff work even better.”

“Mike and i have been really blessed to have both been able to be a part of this industry. We have had success with our shops and careers as artists, but one of our biggest rewards is being able to give back to everyone else! By helping them out, providing products that will allow them to do what they do best, while knowing it’s 100 percent safe to use. We are not guys mixing up stuff in our kitchen and shipping it out. We have the product filed and each batch is tested before we get it to ensure that it is the highest quality it can be. It has not been easy the way we have approached it, but we would not have it any other way.”

Another reason for Stencil Stuff’s continued success has been their working relationship with Sullen Clothing and Sullen TV

“Ryan and Jeremy have teamed up with us to reach out to the industries need for better equipment for the travelling artist, like our recent line of the travelling arm rests, Rest Stuff. Alongside Sullen’s new travel bags, it has helped us branch out to fill a much needed void in the industry. And it has been great working with them. We will soon have the second edition of our travel arm rest with many new features.”

and it doesn’t look like it will end there. With everyone behind Stencil Stuff fully immersed in the tattoo world, it won’t be long before we see another successful product making it into the studios.

“it’s important for us to keep pushing the limits with what we do and continue to push the standards of our products. And, of course, we would not be here without the support of all of our loyal customers. they have all been influential in the success of our company and we thank you.”

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Ego Rotary Tattoo Machines

by on Jul.30, 2013, under Supply Review

Tattoo Machine from Bez

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Eikon EMS 400 Power Supply

by on Jul.22, 2013, under Supply Review

Artist Billy Hill reviews the Eikon EMS 400 Power Supply.

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Disposable Tubes vs. Steel Tubes

by on Jul.17, 2013, under Supply Review

Written by: Larry Brogan, Originally appeared on Tattoo Road Trip blog

As with most comparisons, there are pros and cons. Such is the same when looking at the difference between disposable tattoo tubes and stainless steel tubes.

On the side of steel, there is durability, stiffness and re-usability, provided they are properly cleaned and sterilized, plus the ability to change out any worn parts or change grip size. Some artists feel that the weight of steel tubes helps to balance out the weight of the tattoo machine and provides the artist with a better view of the needles at the tip of the tube.

The negative side of steel tubes starts with their need to be properly cleaned and sterilized, which, in most tattoo shops, can be one of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs we encounter. Already laden with biohazardous fluids, there are chemicals in cleaning solutions that can be harmful to one’s health. Ultrasonic cleaners are full of a combination of many people’s blood and body fluids as well as dangerous chemicals, and they carry a very real risk of getting this mess on or in your body.

Ultrasonic cleaners work by generating high frequency sound waves to agitate in a solution of water and chemical cleaning compound. Cavitation bubbles are induced by agitation on contaminants adhering to the tubes, with the intention of thoroughly removing tightly adhering or embedded particles of ink and body fluids from the solid surfaces of the instruments. This process causes microscopic particles to become airborne and cover everything within proximity of the ultrasonic, contaminating everything in its path, including any person near it, the walls, counter tops, floors and ceilings. Consider the chance of getting any of this into an open wound or mucus membranes such as your eye. Whether from splash, splatter or particles floating in the air and filling your lungs, this is something that can be potentially harmful to your health.

Steel tubes need to be maintained not only by proper cleaning and sterilization but by regularly filing the inside of tube tips, especially in the case of shader tubes, to remove the grooves that form from the needles wearing via friction of metal on metal during the tattoo process. These metal particles mix with the ink, are pushed into the tattoo and can contaminate and muddy your colors, most notably yellows and whites.

The added weight of steel tubes, especially when using large metal grips, can create fatigue on your hand and help lead to problems such as tendonitis and carpel tunnel. While any repetitious job can perpetuate health issues, the extra weight of the tubes can significantly contribute to the problems.

While traveling for conventions or guest spots, steel tubes can be cause for alarm—especially when going through airport X-ray machines—and your luggage to be overweight and be the source of cross contamination, when coming home with dirty tubes.

Pros to using pre sterilized disposable tubes include the lack of added weight and fatigue on your hand and the ability to discard the used tube, when you are finished, potentially eliminating the need for ultrasonics, autoclaves and even a sterilization area all together. It makes health department inspections so much easier and can create hours of extra time in an artist’s work week, for things such as doing more tattoos, which equals making more money. Your clientele may appreciate and feel more at ease knowing that they are being tattooed with new and disposable equipment.

A great variety of disposable tubes are available to us at very reasonable price, sometimes as cheap as twenty cents each. When you compare the low cost and simplicity of tossing the tube away after the tattoo with the fact that you can do away with supplies such as autoclave bags, cleaning solutions, spore tests, scrubbing brushes, distilled water and equipment such as ultrasonic cleaners and autoclaves, not to mention the upkeep and maintenance on them and the added man hours it takes to perform the tasks of cleaning, scrubbing and sterilizing ,while factoring in the reduced risk of contaminating yourself and the shop, twenty to seventy-five cents each is a bargain.

The cons to using disposable tubes include inconsistent manufacturing such as bad tips where extra plastic can block the hole or tube stems that don’t fit into the tattoo machine or are weak and flex with the weight of the machine. Some artists feel that the vibration of the machine is increased by the use of plastic tubes. The tips on some disposables can be awkward or thick, making it more difficult to see exactly where the needle is in relation to the skin. There is also the issue of potential harm to the eco-system, due to the added plastic waste in landfills, from all the discarded tubes, but, with proper disinfection, they can be recycled along with other plastics.

Old-schoolers might argue that, by using disposable instruments, you ruin and tradition and integrity of the industry, especially in the case of apprentices not paying their dues and learning all the ins and outs of tattooing history. But if you really want to get old school, keep in mind that tattooers used to tattoo people for days and weeks using the same dirty needle and tube on scores of clients.

There are many styles of disposable tubes available to us today, some great and some not worth the plastic they were molded from, but, through testing and trial, you can find the right one to suit your needs. I strongly urge anyone trying disposable tubes for the first or even fifth time to try as many different kinds as it takes to find one that you are happy with and do several tattoos with them until you find one that fits your needs. Many artists have tried them once or twice and given up before they had the chance to really get a feel for it. As with any new tool, there is a learning curve and it takes a little time and practice to get used to it.

Note: Eliminating the ultrasonic cleaner and autoclave from your shop should only be done when using a completely pre packaged and pre sterilized set up of disposable tubes and needles from a reputable supplier. If body piercing is performed at the shop, these pieces of equipment may still be a necessity.

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