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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stupendous Skulls

In Mexico, the belief is that the gates of heaven open at on October 31.  At this time, spirits of deceased children may visit their families for 24 hours on November 1, All Saints Day (I don’t know about you, but I get visions of Salem's Lot when I think about this)

Then, on November 2, All Souls Day, the adult spirits come down and party it up without the annoyance of all the kid spirits being a total buzz kill (I'm not really a fan of other people's kids at all, even the ghost kids. I have no doubt they'd be obnoxious as hell too).

During these days when spirits are freely walking amongst us, people celebrate their ancestors.

One way they celebrate is with the sugar skull, which is aptly named because they were actually made from clay molded sugar and decorated with icing. The name of one’s loved one would be written on the skull’s forehead.
The skulls would be placed on the gravestones to encourage the return of the loved one’s soul………Plying people (living or dead) with candy has been around for centuries……. I can’t say that I’m a fan of that……. hell ice cream trucks freak me the fuck out, when I hear that music, I get a shiver down my spine.  You will notice that I have a lot of weird phobias as this blog continues.  I like to think it’s just part of my charm, not that I have some unusual mental disorder.
(As humans, we have gone from creating beautiful skulls made of sugar for manipulation purposes, to this.  I don’t really have a lot of hope for the human race, if you want to know the truth.)

On November 2, the party moves to the cemetery.  While there, folks decorate  the gravestones, bands play, they reminisce and games are played.   I love this tradition, I am a cemetery freak, I love visiting them, taking photos and just hanging out.  They are so peaceful and beautiful to me.  The majority of people I tell this to or show my photos to, are a little creeped out by it.  There is a phobia of cemeteries, Coimetrophobia.  Of course I cannot make fun of anyone with a phobia, as my life is rife with them.  I think that a cemetery can be as beautiful as any park.

Anyway……. Throughout history, in many different cultures, skulls have been revered as symbols of energy and power. They were commonly kept as trophies.  “That skull on the mantle? Yea that’s great uncle Ralph, give him a little rub why don'tcha?”

I admired the beauty of the sugar skulls, and appreciate their use to celebrate ancestors that have gone to the great beyond.  And skulls themselves are representative of death itself.  So, I, having died 2 times in 2009, respect death. (A story I may tell at another time) Yet, I no longer fear it. 

For my 8th tattoo, I wanted a sugar skull.  And the artist I wanted to create it for me was Kevin Byers at Truth & Triumph Tattoo in Dayton, OH ( his portfolio is here (  Kevin does some spectacular traditional tattoos, and he’s pretty fly for a white guy.
I made my appointment, told him what I wanted, and made the 90 minute trek to Dayton.  I hate driving with a passion (and driving to Dayton is particularly horrible, sometimes Dayton smells like ass), but my friends, Kevin is totally worth it (and he has no control of the crapulent odor.  Surprisingly, it didn't reek the last time I was there, but the traffic was worse).
Earlier in the day of the tattoo session, Kevin texted me the stencil he had drawn.

I loved it!!! The only thing I told him was that I wanted on my right shoulder blade and in girly colors.

 The amazing Kevin Byers slaving over my skin.
The finished product...... so beautiful!!! 
I love how a skull can be so girly and feminine, yet totally manly in black and gray.
Like this one done by Logan Aguilar at Venus Modern Body Art in NYC his portfolio can be found here
gorgeous work....

So if you are in the market for a skull..... and you google the images, it can be overwhelming.  If you find some specifics about some that you like, take them to your artist, give them a little artistic freedom, and you can totally have a super awesome skull on your epidermis, like I do!

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