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Monday, July 2, 2012

Swallow Tattoos

I love the look of traditional tattoos and the symbolism behind them.  One of my favorites is the swallow tattoo.
Swallows have been imprinted in the skin of man for hundreds of years.  They were a favorite of sailors.
Legend says that when sailors had traveled 5000 miles they would obtain a swallow tattoo, which was a sign of status among the sailing population.  It also served as a resume of sorts, when a captain saw that the sailor possessed a swallow tattoo, he knew that the sailor in question was experienced and had weathered many storms, so to speak (literally and figuratively).
And if a sailor had 2 swallow tattoos, CHA CHING! I bet he got hired right on the spot!
Another legend says that if a sailor drowns, the swallow will carry his soul off to heaven.  Sinking ships and drowning sailors were not uncommon, and I think it was prudent to have the swallow on your skin, ready to perform its duty in the case of a tragedy.
Sailors were some pretty smart and superstitious dudes.
Swallows also have symbolism outside of the sailing community.  They can symbolize honor, faith, love, luck, loyalty, family, friendship, monogamy (swallows mate for life)……. All very noble sentiments.
But the one that had the most significance to me is that adventurers/travelers would always find their way home.
I’ve been searching for someplace that feels like home for years…. I’m hoping my fat little swallow will lead me there that would be the ultimate lucky break for me.
Most people that know me well are quite shocked that I have a tattoo of a bird.  I have a bird phobia.  I have even been good-naturedly teased about it.  But in my way of thinking, maybe having a bird on my skin it will help desensitize me….. We shall see how that works out. (
Most swallow tattoos are based upon the blue barn swallow:
And the most common style of swallows done now is in the Sailor Jerry style, which is classic Americana  (
So……. After I poured over hundreds of swallow images (drawings, photos and actual tattoos) I found one that was similar to what I was after.  A round, feminine little swallow.
I took the drawing to the awesome Dustin Zion at Asylum Tattoo in Latonia KY, .
Dustin tweaked the image a little, made a stencil and we set about tattoo process……..
The stencil.
Dustin hard at work.

The finished product.

I am mad about my chubby little swallow, Dustin did a fantastic job. 
I have an autoimmune disorder, Dermatomyositis (, it in combination with the medications that I take, causes me to heal weirdly at times.  So I had to have my swallow touched up a little over a week ago, which is a necessary evil in maintaining tattoos, even for normal people.  But I try to take good care of my skin art, lotion, sunscreen.... I want them to be beautiful forever....... even when I'm an old lady......

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