Hello sailor! The best crafty tattoos around

Much like Marmite, you either love arts and crafts or you don’t. No half measures here – such passion runs in the blood, quite literally in some cases. Here are a couple of handy-dandy folk who have had their skin inked in so the whole world knows that they can’t wait to get a bit crafty of an evening.

Andee Penner, 36, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Sew Dandee

Day job: Owns and runs Sew Dandee, a craft shop that specialises in handmade clothes, accessories and gifts

The tattoo: Self-designed after months of researching fonts. My next crafty tatt will be done in March as a tribute to my mother, a seamstress who is also the most influential and important person in my life

Craft du jour: Anything felted, although it’s the one craft I haven’t devoted any time to trying, short of crocheting a hat and felting it in the wash.

Biggest win: A few reworked dresses that I adore.

Biggest fail: Some high-waisted exercise pants for a customer that tapered at the ankle, done in ribbed camouflage fabric to make them extra gross.

Favourite crafter: Heather Lair, a seamstress and quilter who blows my mind with her work.

Handmade motto: Make stuff! Nothing feels better than making something awesome with your own hands.

Maiya Becker, 31, Eugene, Oregon

Maiya Knits. Mayhem Ensues

Day job: Mum, head of yarn bombing group The Eugene Knotty Knitters, designer of patterns and contract work knitter.

The tattoos: I have three. One is a skull and cross bones where the cross bones are knitting needles piercing
a yarn heart – I love traditional styled tattoos and pirate culture so I thought the ironic twist involving a very “feminine” craft would be funny. The second craft tattoo I have is a pair of Gingher scissors with a measuring tape wrapped around it.  After I graduated from college I worked as a costume designer for local theatres.  The scissors and tape measure are a tribute to that part of my life.

I also have an owl whose body is a ball of yarn perching on knitting needles.  I am part of a Ravelry group, Knit Knack.  The members are like family to me and are amazing people. One of the members, Mary Bethel designed our logo – this yarn owl – and named it after her mother, Helen, who had passed away from breast cancer. A few of us Knit Knackers have had Helen tattooed and this is my version of her. One Knit Knacker, Stephanie, visited me last summer from Alabama. We drove up to Portland to meet another group member, Kelly from Seattle, and we all got Helen tattooed together. It is an amazing bond.

Craft du jour: I really enjoy dyeing yarn with Kool Aid and food coloring.  Recently, I’ve become involved in nail art and painting crazy designs with nail polish.  I recently built myself nail polish racks to hold all of my bottles of polish.  I am also passionate about yarn bombing or knit graffiti and work very hard with fellow knitters to bring this type of art to Eugene.

Biggest win: My knitted Bandit Hat from the movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s crazy, it’s fun, it’s pop culture and it’s inspired a lot of people to make their own.

Biggest fail: I would say anything I knitted when I first learnt how. I had no clue about yarn preferences, gauge, patterns. I was knitting these huge, ugly scarves with cheap acrylic yarn.

Favourite crafter: I am really inspired by people I know. My knitting group is amazing because the people are amazing. Katie Aaberg is an artist and crafter like noother. She is also the photographer of my photos.  Mary Bethel, who designed the Knit Knack Helen owl, is awesome too. She knits, embroiders and even has a new crafty podcast.

Handmade motto: Be a person who creates. It doesn’t matter if it’s simple or outrageous, trendy or traditional.

Jane Rowley, 46, Seattle, Washington

Jane’s Flickr page

Day job: Sews part-time for Sue Zell.

The tattoo: I like the combination of unlikely styles.  Most people don’t expect the pairing of soft domestic activity and hard metal hot-rod biker style. I designed it myself. The image came directly from an advertisement.  The machine is a 1951 221 Featherweight.  I own and use that machine.

Craft du jour: Kanzashi folded Japanese flowers (traditionally meant to be hair ornaments).

Biggest win: A king size “Wedding Ring” bed quilt.

Biggest fail: A gaudy jacket.

Favourite crafter: Thea Starr, fellow Kanzashi flower lover, teacher and co-founder of the Everett, Washington roller derby league.

Handmade motto: Can this problem be solved with sewing?

Karen Tiveron, 37, Toronto, Ontario

Librarian Karen

Day job: Media archivist.

The tattoo: I wanted something that would share a bit of a story about me and the things that are important to me. Each component on my left arm has meaning, tied together with the winding measuring tape. I came up with the concept, provided the artist (Matt Ellis, of Seven Crowns Tattoo, Toronto) with some images and he drew it up. I knew what I wanted but I’m not a good enough artist to have drawn the images myself. Creative, yes, artistic, no.

What did your mum say: Nothing, this time. I suppose she’s used to it by now! But after my first tattoo she said she couldn’t understand why I would permanently disfigure myself.

Getting any more? Of course!

Craft du jour: I’ve been volunteering as a fosterer for rescued cats and I’ve been using fabric scraps to make toys to give to fostered and adopted cats. I tend to use a fabric for only one or two items to make them more unique and even though I try to purchase fat quarters, I hate wasting fabric so it’s a good way to use up scraps. Also, I’m currently on the hunt for unique or vintage frames for my coin pouches. Oh, and Spoonflower, which allows you to design your own fabric or purchase fabric designed by other people. One of these days I’ll get around to designing my own fabric.

Biggest win: I’m pretty pleased with some of the dresses I’ve made (such as the purple one I’m wearing in the picture). Also, gifts for friends and family, which always seem to be appreciated.

Biggest fail: Underwear, which did’’t turn out very well. It was difficult for me to gauge the length and tension for the elastic. Not pretty, or comfortable!

Favourite crafter: For inspiration and ideas I tend to look at design and craft websites, such as Craftster, Apartment TherapyPoppytalk, Design Sponge, Coletterie (Collette patterns), Instructables, Craftstylish, or food blogs.

Handmade motto: Just go for it! If you’re feeling creative and there’s something you want to try or learn how to do, go for it.

Josh & Stephanie Lloyd, 34 and 26 respectively, Austin, Texas

Day jobs: Locksmith (Josh) and dispatch manager (Steph).

The tattoos: My wife inspired me to get the sewing tattoos. She’s been sewing since she was a little kid with her mum. It’s something she’s really talented at and passionate about, so it was my way of having a piece of her with me all the time. I got the coffee cup because I’ve loved coffee ever since I can remember. My life has kind of revolved around coffee. When my friends wanted to go to the bars, I wanted to find late-night coffee shops! The camera represents photography and videography, which have been big hobbies of mine since middle school. The apron and hammer reflect my dedication to my amazing parents. On my other arm I have a tree with six birds and the symbol of the Trinity in the middle. It stands for the strength and bond my family shares.

What did your mum say? She thought it was beautiful, but probably wishes I didn’t have any.

Getting any more? Yes, I’ll be filling out the half-sleeve on my right arm when I figure out what I want.

Craft du jour: Steph says – painting!

Biggest win: Steph says – I redesigned my wedding dress.

Biggest fail: Steph says – I failed miserably while making a dress one time.

Favourite crafter: Steph says – my three sisters.

Handmade motto: Try everything at least once.

Sarah Corbett, 28, London (by way of Liverpool)

The Craftivist Collective

Day job: Works part-time as a campaigner for Oxfam and works part-time running The Craftivist Collective.

The tattoo: All my tattoos (craft and non craft) are to help me on the right track to be the best person I can be while I am on this earth. I believe that we all have gifts and talents and we should use our hobbies and passions to make the world a better place. I love arts and crafts and can’t go a week without giving in to the urges of creating things. I try and create things that provoke people to think about our global neighbours suffering in the world and hopefully people will then act to fight for social justice in everything they do.

My craft tattoos are to remind me to keep crafting (for my sanity!) but also to keep using my passion for craft to challenge injustices and raise awareness. It sounds a bit cheesy and naive but I couldn’t imagine not being a craftivist and its now part of who I am so it felt very natural to get my craftivism related tattoos.

Craft du jour: I’m making cross-stitched masks to put on human-sized statues across the UK. I’m constantly looking out for statues to add to my hit list and carry around a mask to finish off whenever I’m on the bus or a long tube journey or train. I like thinking about how the public will respond to them differently than our Mini Protest Banners because these are on human-sized statues.

Biggest win: A giant embroidered love letter I created for a workshop I delivered at the Hayward Gallery in response to the recent Tracey Emin exhibition about love. Attendees were encouraged to hand-embroider their signature onto the bottom to say that they were going to show their love for all and not just one person. They had to attach a baggage tag to their signature saying what act of love they were going to do.

I’m saying this letter because at the moment it is in the window of indie craft shop Fabrications (Broadway Market, East London) in the run up to Valentine’s Day. The owner keeps telling me it’s getting great responses from the public, which makes me very happy. She said two little boys especially loved it and read it out to their bemused parents. I love the fact that these kids got their parents talking about global poverty and human rights issues after seeing the giant letter – especially because it took me five days to make on a holiday in Glasgow so I only ended up with one day’s holiday in Glasgow. It was worth the lack of a holiday just for that story!

Biggest fail: I made a bag years ago in a rush to take on holiday. I got too over-ambitious with lots of hidden pockets for my valuables and was up all night making it. It looked awful and I was embarrassed using it on holiday. I ended up pulling it apart to use the fabric for other things. What a waste of time and energy.

Handmade motto: Our collective’s motto is A Spoonful of Craft Helps the Activism Go Down. Personally I don’t have a motto but I do have to remind people sometimes that if I don’t craft I get restless, which is why I sometime craft when I meet up with friends. It’s an itch I just have to scratch and I’m always thinking about current and future craftivism projects.

Casey M (kC), 29, Michigan, Detroit

Ric Rac Heart Attack

Day job: A licensed veterinary technician for a family-owned veterinary hospital by day and a crafter and roller derby player by night.

The tattoo: My love of sewing was my inspiration. I’m a self-taught seamstress and crafter and have been sewing now for about 11 years. The piece on my back includes many of the actual tools I use. The sewing machine is the one my mother gave me, which was purchased the year I was born and it still runs like a champ. The measuring tape is also something my mother gave me from her own personal sewing box. These items mean so much to me that it just felt natural to have a piece done with them included.

I had a general idea of how I wanted the piece to look like and after much discussion with Phil at New Skool Tattoos, my tattoo artist, he came up with a great design from all of the reference photos and ideas I had given him. Kudos go to him for the oh-so-clever thimble however! That was all his idea!

What did your mum say? My mum secretly loves tattoos and has been to afraid to get one of her own. When I showed her this piece she had to do a double take! She really enjoyed the piece and all the detail that went into it.

Getting any more? Of course! I currently have 12 tattoos and welcome many more. Right now I am on a little tattoo hiatus for the good of my pregnancy, which is either a good or bad thing because I keep thinking of new tatts I’d love to have done!

Craft du jour: Right now I am eight months pregnant with my first child and I have to say that has influenced a lot of my crafts. I’ve been working on lots of projects like blankets, burp cloths, even a few re-purposing projects for the nursery. After I give birth I plan on focusing on updating my Etsy store and also trying out a few new crafts I have been dreaming up. My mind is always working on the next big project.

Biggest win: I guess my greatest accomplishment in sewing and crafting would have to be one of the costumes I made for Halloween several years back. The costume was a replica of Paul Stanley’s (lead singer of KISS’s) Destroyer stage outfit. It took a lot of planning, drafting and many, many nights making patterns with rhinestones. That costume is also my most expensive and most daring to date. I was so pleased with how well it turned out!

Biggest fail: I can’t say I have a worst. Everything I make regardless of how good or bad it was has been a good lesson to help me grow and learn as a crafter. I am always trying to improve my craft and create new things. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as I planned it, I still gain important knowledge from it.

Favourite crafter: I love fellow Michigan resident Stoopidgerl, her creations are so colourful and bright. I also love MungoCrafts’ super unique style and reconstructions. I also love Janine Basil as well – I adore her colourful and creative hair accessories.

Handmade motto: I can’t say I have a motto but I do always try to take a leap and try new things even if they are out of my comfort zone.

10 Responses to “Hello sailor! The best crafty tattoos around”
  1. These tattoos are awesome! Have you seen this one?


  2. kC says:

    Thanks for the interview! The post is lots of fun!

  3. Sarah Adie says:

    Haha, no! I have a few already and I think I’m done with body art. All mine seem to be cat-related!

  4. Shelley says:

    This lovely lady has a gorgeous craft-inspired chest piece too. And her blog’s worth a read too 🙂


    • Sarah Adie says:

      Thanks for the link, what I can see of her tatt looks great. The blog looks interesting too – so thanks for sending it on! 🙂

      • Shelley says:

        No probs. I read rather a lot of blogs, probably spending more time on them than I should 😉

        Does this post mean you’re considering a tat of your own?? X

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