Black ink for tribal

topic posted Sat, March 15, 2008 - 8:20 PM by  Kay
Since Starbrite no longer makes Black Magic, is there an ink that covers like that? I tried Tat Wax's tribal black - SUCKED! Luckily, it's a night sky on my husband and will 'fix' it with darkened colors.
posted by:
offline Kay
  • Re: Black ink for tribal

    Sun, March 16, 2008 - 5:04 AM
    If you aren't going to use straight black India ink, you can always do what many old-timing type tattooers do- take Pelikan or Talens black and double-boil it down to about 60-70% of its original volume, and voila!, you have "tribal black". But be careful- do NOT walk away from your double-boiler and forget about it. There's little on earth that smells quite as bad as burned India ink.

    But think about it- why would they "no longer make Black Magic"? I have know idea, but if pressed, I would suspect the simplest reason was "is wasn't selling well enough", right? Would that be because straight Talens of Pelikan work fine if it's put in the skin properly?

    Seriously- what's the difference between a boiled down black and putting a bit more straight black ink into a given area? A little bit of additional wear and tear on the skin, but hey, you put in solid color, all the time, right? Why not black? Hell, if your machines are running properly and you're using the right medium-taper needles without ANY barbs on them (and maybe even a stacked mag, instead of a "normal" mag, just to insure more complete coverage), you should be able to get VERY black tribal tattoos........ provided it's applied properly with a properly tuned machine.

    *Note: Use medium-taper needles for putting in solid color. The long-taper needles that most people seem to use these days will hook right up if you run the machine into the top of a plastic ink cap when you're dipping... I think this is because most tattooers working today never did a proper apprenticeship (key word: proper) to a properly trained, veteran tattooer anddi didn't have an old-timer teach them to use long-tapers for lining and in magnums for grey-work, and medium-tapers for solid color and solid black using rounds, stacked mags, and regular mags.

    *Note: Use lots of tiny ink caps, rather than one or two large ones, since the ink gets thinned by blood products picked up by the tube during the tattooing process, eventually leading to ink in the cap that not only is "less black" than it was when you started, but also begins to coagulate (!!!!!) once you've been tattooing about an hour! Also, rinse your tube regularly when doing tribal work: A&D ointment and ink and blood-products build up on the tube walls, shrinking the relative volume of the ink reservoir.

    This has been a Tattooing Moment, brought to you by your regularly scheduled programming.............
    • Unsu...

      Re: Black ink for tribal

      Mon, March 17, 2008 - 1:22 PM
      I mix Talens black and Millenium's Black Onyx with good result. having a good needle is half of it. i make my own needles and i use the standard size needles not the tapered.
    • Re: Black ink for tribal

      Tue, March 18, 2008 - 4:13 AM
      Actually, Black Magic left the market due to reactions. I, personally have it in one of my tattoos with no effects. Starbrite removed an element they thought was the culprit, only to have the ink start growing spores of some type.

      Mixing an ink, I have time for, ruining something (double boiler) I don't even own, not so much. I am a mom first, in an over saturated area for tattooists, so also working a full time job to make ends meet.

      Thanks for you suggestions! They are appreciated!
    • Re: Black ink for tribal

      Mon, March 24, 2008 - 5:22 PM
      "If you aren't going to use straight black India ink,"

      India ink contains mercury. The art supply stores actually have signs stating that it should NOT be used for tattooing.
      • Re: Black ink for tribal

        Tue, March 25, 2008 - 7:51 PM
        And why, exactly, do you think India Ink "contains mercury" and that it should "not be used for tattooing"? Pelikan and Talens both are INDIA INKs.

        Who told you that India Ink "contains mercury"?
        • Re: Black ink for tribal

          Wed, March 26, 2008 - 4:18 AM
          As I stated, the art supply store has it posted.

          And in my past life (with ex husband) a highly educated person in the environmental / bio hazard field (actually helped set up things at Federal level) told me. It is my ex husband. Mercury affects the brain. Hence it's no longer used in the manufacturing industry, don't remember it's actually purpose decades ago. Mercury is absorbed through the skin, doesn't even need an open wound. Locally, about 15 years ago, a kid took some mercury from school, broke the glass container it was in. Mom vacuumed it up, so she thought. She actually created a breathing hazard as it doesn't sweep up, just break into tiny particles and pass through the filters. The house was eventually condemened and taken apart and disposed of properly.

          The ink I am referring to is the India Ink used for calligraphy, not ink made in India.
          • Re: Black ink for tribal

            Wed, March 26, 2008 - 4:24 AM
            Guess I should add, I'm not a chemist and have not tested all tattoo inks. I realize there's the possibility of all kinds of 'not so good for the body' compounds to be in ink. There's a whole list of things that are required to be released by, I think, the state of California. I'm pretty sure one of the things on that list is coalbalt. They used to make blue glass out it until they found it causes cancer when the items are used. Like lead in paint and such.
            • Re: Black ink for tribal

              Wed, March 26, 2008 - 10:27 AM
              And there are a LOT of metal salts in tattoo inks. Cadmium, chromium, titanium, and iron oxides, sulfides, and whatnot are in most of your colored pigments. They're metal SALTS, and have been used SAFELY for tattooing for as long as color has been available. That said, California HAS issued regulations that all tattoo inks be accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). BUT, there's not a rash of cases of skin cancer in WWII sailors in their tattoo areas, and there's been more developed color tattooing for the last 40 years that has yet to cause that trouble.

              What i WOULD worry about is anyone using UV reacitve or "glow" inks. Do some homework on what makes something UV reactive (and what happens to the molecules that "emit" the "glow" when the UV light "excites" them), and even if the inks ARE based on the same stuff that "children's safety paints" are (that was direct from the manufacturer) I would still worry about the fact that sunlight contains UV light as well, and the inks will be "reacting" every time you walk outside.

              Just a thought.
          • Re: Black ink for tribal

            Wed, March 26, 2008 - 10:20 AM
            I'm not arguing the safety of mercury, so you can save your paragraphs on the dangers of mercury. I can write pages on the dangers of gasoline too, but it's not in my tattoo ink.

            I'm stating that India Ink is India Ink, whether it's from India, Germany, Holland, England, or Peoria. Just about ALL black "lining" ink IS "India Ink". So, I guess every tattooer out there should stop what they're doing because YOU think there's something wrong with India Ink?

            For years, Cinnabar RED inks, paints, and other pigments, made from Cinnabar (mercuric sulfide ore- a mineral) WAS used in tattooing, and is VERY toxic....... to people allergic to sulfa drugs. Apparently, when the Japanese would lie down for their "red session" (before the advent of non-mercuric-sulfide red inks), they would get VERY little done at one time. The mercury salts that are cinnabar don't have free mercury in them, but instead the sufides care horrible "red reactions" on most people with sulfa sensitivity. RED ink might well contain cinnabar. Could this be what the sign was addressing?

            Could it also be that art supply stores are as tired as I am of idiots walking in and asking for "Indian Ink so I can tatt up my friends"??? Maybe, just maybe, they're trying to discourage people deciding to "figure it out the hard way". I'm sure it's possible that SOME inks, SOMEwhere have mercury in them, but BLACK "India Ink" is THE tattooers' ink of choice for linework and grey wash AND solid black tribal (for most tattooers), is a CARBON pigment ink, and has been for over a hundred years. What you might not know, is that older India Inks also had shellac in them. No mercury there, either. Just carbon and shellac (a byproduct of little buzzing flying critters with stingers on their butts).

            Please get your facts straight before telling ALL the world's professional tattooers that we need to stop using a product that's been in every tattoo station on earth for over a hundred years.
            • Re: Black ink for tribal

              Wed, March 26, 2008 - 10:48 AM
              I am repeating what I was told. I also stated that I personally was not a chemist, so had not done tests on the ink. Thought that was clear. *shrug* guess not.

              • Re: Black ink for tribal

                Thu, March 27, 2008 - 1:56 AM
                Well, I guess you probably shouldn't believe everything you read about tattooing, especially when it's coming from people who are NOT experienced tattooers. Of course, being an experienced tattooer doesn't always make someone an expert, either- I've seen signs in California IN tattoo shops stating "if you are under 18, you must have a parent present to get tattooed". This doesn't make the act any less illegal (it is illegal to tattoo a minor and a parent doesn't have the authority to "give you permission to break the law").

                But my point about mercury in India ink is that it ain't there. Period. In the tattoo world, mercury only appears in red pigments that are cinnabar based, and most of those have been phased out in the last 30 years (there ARE exceptions, I'm certain, primarily because of the number of "red reactions" that still get reported).
                • Re: Black ink for tribal

                  Thu, March 27, 2008 - 5:03 PM
                  ** I've seen signs in California IN tattoo shops stating "if you are under 18, you must have a parent present to get tattooed". This doesn't make the act any less illegal (it is illegal to tattoo a minor and a parent doesn't have the authority to "give you permission to break the law").
                  In Canada..between 16 and 18 with parents consent is the law ! Although correct paper work must be sign'd !
                  It's also true in Canada that if someone of questionable age already has a exsisting tattoo thats heal'd that they can get another !
                  It's also becoming common that tattoo shops get bullshit'd just like the bars and the corner store concerning cigerrettes about fake ID's !
                  I find myself that because my shop is in such a small town ..that no minor has the balls to come into my shop for ink and bullshit me ! I know everybody and the ones I don't know...somebody I know..knows em !
                  I do however want the young ones to come in my shop ...ask questions and I'll help em plan out their tattoo when they of age to get it done !
                  I also use Reel Creations theatrical make-up that comes in full I'll give em a fake temporary tattoo thats free hand painted on em and ya know..pimp it up abit for em...sleeve of tribal on a kid thats 16 makes em happier than a pig in shit ! Or even their last name in old english across their back....( had 1 father phone the shop trip'n on me...told him ta rub alittle 99% Isoprop on it and ta call me back in 5 with an appoligy ! This cosmetic is really great stuff...full colour and will last with a nice image for about 5 ta 7 days and when yer done paint'n it on ..just put alittle baby powder on em and the tattoo looks like it's been there acouple years !
              • Re: Black ink for tribal

                Thu, March 27, 2008 - 2:10 AM
                To be clear,

                >>"I am repeating what I was told..... Thought that was clear. *shrug* guess not. "<<

                Actually, you stated "India ink contains mercury." A declarative statement, offered as "fact". You then followed it with "The art supply stores actually have signs stating that it should NOT be used for tattooing ".

                Two separate statements in the same post, sure, but both are stated in a way that suggest you believe them both to be facts. Nothing there suggesting you were "repeating what you were told", only that your knowledge of art stores supports your knowledge of mercury in India ink.

                Sorry if you think I'm being unfair, but when you make erroneous declarative "factual" statements that are likely to be passed on to others who, like you, don't know any better, it's in the best interest of tattooing in general to make things clear.
                • Re: Black ink for tribal

                  Sun, April 27, 2008 - 10:57 AM
                  Question, it used to be, according to who taught me, that Pelican ink from CAM was for lining. Now, in CAM's catalog it states NOT for tattooing. So, wondering why the change? Is there something in inks for drawing, like those in an art supply store, that should not be placed in the skin?
  • Re: Black ink for tribal

    Mon, March 24, 2008 - 10:28 AM
    You may want to try out Kuro Sumi, It's a lovely ink for lining and a rich solid black for tribal.It's also thinner than black magic, I suspect a much finer grind on the pigment and less glycol in the suspension, so doesn't smear all over as much and makes for easier wipe up.
    • Re: Black ink for tribal

      Tue, June 10, 2008 - 11:13 AM
      Kuro Sumi does kill it. I got some to see what it was all about. They don't call it the best lining and shading ink in the world for nothing. I also liked the starbrite tribal black. Maybe it's all in my head but the starbrite ink seems to go in nice & smooth with all colors.
  • Re: Black ink for tribal

    Tue, June 10, 2008 - 11:08 AM
    "Starbrite Tribal black" ...I just got some this last week because I needed it in a hurry and I was pleased with it.
    • Re: Black ink for tribal

      Tue, June 10, 2008 - 3:32 PM
      Tribal doesn't seem to stay as dark as the Black Magic did.
      Have Kumo in my newest tattoo (portrait) it's awesome for lining and shading, but not what I'm looking for in a super black like Black Magic. The artist did not 'work the puddle' either.
      • Re: Black ink for tribal

        Tue, June 17, 2008 - 3:54 AM
        All of this discussion about which ink is better PRESUMES facts NOT in evidence here. These answers people are giving presume that a tattooer is doing everything properly to make a tattoo solid black and not spotty/grey/light, and that every ink goes in the same way with the same tools and the same techniques. The vast majority of tattooers today seem to have never done a proper apprenticeship to a tattooer with traditional training. One of those traditional skills one would learn is that different inks require different tools/techniques to put in properly. Most tattooers use different machines for linework vs. shading, right? How many are using a machine set up solely for putting in black ink solidly? How many are using flats or stacked mags vs. staggered mags?

        The simple math is "how much black pigment is being put into each square millimeter and more importantly, how deep is the pigment coverage?", since SOLID black ink that's not in very deeply WILL show the brightness of skin through it. I know I've discussed SOME of this before, but I still hear people asking "which ink to use to actually make the tattoo black?", rather than "how do I make a solid black tattoo VERY black?"

        How many solid black tattoos have you done with either to have such an opinion? Did you take the time to determine the best way to work each ink, or do you "tattoo the way you tattoo and this ink didn't work well"?

        Different inks (if, in fact, they actually ARE different, and not identical inks sold by different suppliers as often happens) often require finding the right "combination" for putting each differently formulated ink (texture, fluidity, particulate size in suspension, liquid binder, pigment content, etc.). Some inks are made of larger partulate pigment- this ink will be darker close to the surface, but won't penetrate very deeply since the tip of a long-taper needle is actually larger than most of the pigment particles. These inks require a MEDIUM taper needle. Some inks seem to go in better with a faster stroke or harder impact. Some want the opposite. EXPERIMENT!

        Figure out how it wants to be put in and put it in that way. Many inks have a lower pigment content, and these need to be put in more patiently, perhaps with a slightly faster running machine, since each stroke of the machine is putting less pigment into the skin by definition (or discarded completely for anything except dilute washes). If I take the time to find the right machine, running the right way, with the right taper needles, I've been able to tattoo with just about ANY black ink, including using "tribal" black to do grey-work as well as linework (just thin it out as needed- you get the same ink by double-boiling straight India ink to 50% its original volume).

        The most common problems with "tribal" black tattooing I've seen in 25 years tattooing, are threefold....... and presuming the tattooer has been taught how to tattoo properly, it STILL isn't the ink that's at fault-

        a) it seems to be that tattooers get impatient, hurried, bored, disinterested, or whatnot when working large fields of solid black. They bid a tattoo at X dollars, start nice and slow to get a solid black field, then realize they're running way behind, either other customers with appointments, or behind the money they asked for the tattoo (and anyone who doesn't think MANY tattooers "hurry up" if they've underbid, is kidding themselves. I've seen it WAY too many times). They also sometimes do this withOUT being aware of it, gradually increasing the pattern size they tattoo with each stroke of the machine, until they're doing the same work to cover an area twice or three times as large as the same pattern was in the first minutes of filling in the tattoo.

        b) I've also seen tattooers get lazy about needle angle when they've been working an area for a while. Keep it consistently at a low angle with the needles out a bit further and a longer stroke to compensate for the angle's naturally shallower track. Too many tattooers try to do solid black with their tattoo machines almost perpendicular to the skin. Imagine a cross-section of the skin as the machine moves past at a low angle vs. a very steep angle. You get MUCH darker, multiple layers of ink with the low angle, and only "a whole bunch of dots really close together to make it black" with the steep angle, which is the PRIMARY reason one tattoo will look darker than another, with all other things being equal.

        And lastly, I've seen this more than any other mistake in doing large blackwork-

        c) when setting up, many tattooers set one or more large ink caps for such work, rather than many small ones. This makes sense on the surface, but once you've been working solid black for half an hour, dipping as many as a hundred or more times in that half hour, blood products contaminate the ink supply, both diluting the ink in the tub AND adding coagulants that cause the ink to thicken considerably, and the pigment to bind into blocks too large to easily enter the skin during the tattooing practice. By the time you've been using the same ink pot for forty-five minutes, you can see strings of ink follow the tip of the tube when you pull it out of the cap as the ink is coagulated enough to change the viscosity considerably. If I'm tattooing a forearm or half-sleeve in "tribal" black, I set out sometimes fifteen or twenty SMALL ink caps, filled with ink, and by the time they're HALF empty, they're typically contaminated enough that I move to the next. Think about how little ink really is used before being contaminated, and why using a large ink cap fools the tattooer into thinking he/she's tattooing with the same ink they started with.....

        Trevor Marshall of New Zealand, famous for his VERY large solid black (and sometimes patterned with grey) "tribal" work, told me once that he uses a "four needle FLAT with India ink" for doing large tribal work, because there is NO WAY to "try to hurry up and get lazy" with a needle group so small. Yes, his customers paid by the hour, but I'm not sure they weren't getting a better deal than with most tattooers, who will try to use a large needle group which leaves an area looking solid quickly, which then heals in a very uneven surface density.

        I've looked at BLACK "tribal" tattoos and asked the tattooer "what ink did you use?" many, many times over the years (10 years on the international tattoo convention circuit and lots of guest spot work), as I'm always curious about such things when I see a particularly well done tattoo. The most common answer I've heard when asking "which black ink did you use?" for exceptionally black "tribal" work is....... drum roll, please.......... "Pelikan India Ink". Second most frequent is "Talens India Ink", third is a bit up in the air, but "National" and "Starbrite" are both less common but often enough.

        Hope some of this helps.....

        • Re: Black ink for tribal

          Tue, June 17, 2008 - 4:09 AM
          I've learned what you listed as "c)" is called 'working the puddle.' Especially if using diamond / made for flats / mags type tubes you don't have to run the machine in the ink cup. Using a 14 round, I don't have to run the machine in the ink cup.

          I've noticed that in a large supplier now lists Pelican Ink as a drawing ink, no longer listed as a lining ink.
          • Re: Black ink for tribal

            Thu, June 19, 2008 - 9:42 PM
            "Working the puddle" has nothing to do with whether or not you're using large ink caps and tattooing with diluted, coagulated ink. If you think that "working the puddle", as you call it (and as Huck Spaulding calls it, I think), means you're going to contaminate the ink inside the tube, that's true, but then again, ALL tattooing leaves blood products in the tip of the tube and on the needles (that's why we autoclave), and there WILL be transfer to the ink in the ink cap, merely by the fact of contact with a contaminated tube. I said nothing about "running the machine in the cap", instead, ANY tube will be contaminated with blood products, and dipping it in your ink WILL contaminate the ink in the cap. It's just the way it is.
            • Re: Black ink for tribal

              Fri, June 20, 2008 - 4:04 AM
              "Diluting" by running the machine in the ink cap is not the same as "contamination."
              Contamination happens in every day life. Like a sneeze. In my 'regular pay check' job it is state required that I receive training on contamination prevention, including blood borne pathogens.

              What you said was:
              "both diluting the ink in the tub AND adding coagulants that cause the ink to thicken considerably, and the pigment to bind into blocks too large to easily enter the skin during the tattooing practice"
              I've found running the machine in a cup of distilled water helps with clearing the tube now and again. As far as thick ink, Tat Wax has some idea that 'thicker is better.' It's not. I went back to Starbrite, set up 4 cups, 2 same color. Effect is what I wanted, night sky. So glad I didn't go with straight black.
              • Re: Black ink for tribal

                Fri, June 20, 2008 - 9:09 AM
                Kay, please stop trying to be an expert on this subject. You're using words regularly here that you either don't fully understand or incorrectly define.

                Contamination is defined many ways, but in the context I'm using, it means "to pollute" or "to make impure", and getting blood products in your ink puts contaminants in the ink, making it impure. Look it up. I think the term you're trying to talk about is "cross-contamination", which is a factor in infection-control and proper application of Universal Precautions in containing bloodborne pathogens.

                1) v. the act of contaminating or polluting; including (either intentionally or accidentally) unwanted substances or factors
                2) n. the condition of being impure

                If there's blood- or motor oil, for that matter- in the ink, it's contaminated, just as if there's water in your gasoline, it's contaminated. You're playing the expert with someone who was the California Conference of Local Health Officers's industry liaison when the state was writing it's tattoo and piercing bloodborne-pathogen standards under the purview of Assembly Bill 186, way back when. I've been tattooing about as long as you've been alive, and first attended APT's bloodborne-pathogen training when Mic Beasley and Dr. Kris Sperry were still running things (they created it, actually, as an opportunity to train tattooers properly in bloodborne-pathogen and infection-control standards) and I've sat through a half-dozen other such seminars since then, keeping up to date on such things.

                "Cross-contamination" is the term used in bloodborne-pathogen discussions, and addresses the act of picking up the tattooee's blood-products (or other contaminants) and depositing them in or on ANY surface other than the one they came from, or conversely, picking up contaminants from a surface and leaving them on the tattooee. Proper infection-control techniques and following Universal Precautions minimize cross-contamination, and there are standards for handling any cross-contamination that occurs.

                Here's a link that you might study for such things-
                • Re: Black ink for tribal

                  Fri, June 20, 2008 - 11:51 AM
                  I have NEVER claimed to be an 'expert' in ANY thing, since the world and its workings are constantly changing. I have questioned things, as anyone who continues to learn should. I have watched and read. Not just in the tattoo industry. I have stated what I have seen, been told by others, etc. I have said that I saw, or read, or was told. I have NEVER claimed I knew it as gospel, written in stone.

                  The question I still have is why CAM now lists Pelican ink as for drawing only? It was my mentor, when I took a not so great apprentiseship (have learned much more on my own) that insisted Pelican was the best for outlining.

                  So, yes, I will continue to learn. I will continue to share what I've been told, and hopefully, make clear that it didn't originate with me. *sigh*
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Black ink for tribal

                    Fri, June 20, 2008 - 9:44 PM
                    There's an old saying that goes "Any time you need to ask 'why did they do this' or 'why don't they do that', the answer is 'MONEY'", in this case, I'm willing to bet that lawyers told CAM (a distributor of primarily Chinese tattoo supplies) to do this. Here, let me explain......

                    Just as the plastic bag my dry-cleaning comes in says "do not place in crib or over head: asphyxiation may result" which, I might add, seems like an easy no-brainer, there's probably liability issues with listing a "drawing ink" as a "tattoo ink", despite the fact that it's been used for that purpose for a hundred years and will continue to be used that way. Insurers require all kinds of things of businesses that make no sense........ until you realize that there's morons who collect half a million dollars from McDonalds for spilling a cup of coffee in her lap, sue the homeowner when they break a leg trying to break into a house through an upper story window, and the list goes on.....

                    There may also be new "regulations" demanding that tattoo inks only contain items a, b, c, and d, but not x, which doesn't make the ink unsafe, it just makes it beyond the purview of said new 'regulations'.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Black ink for tribal

                    Sat, October 9, 2010 - 6:08 PM
                    Maybe everyone here should do some research because black tattoo ink is NOT india ink or anything remotely close toit, other than the fact that it's black. If you're buying india ink to tattoo then you shouldn't be tattooing...either that or (if you did apprentice) your mentor didn't have a clue what they were doing.

                    There are many good quality inks on the market. Look 'em up
                    • Re: Black ink for tribal

                      Wed, October 13, 2010 - 4:21 PM
                      IF you think, or even read in this long old mess that I use india ink you need to re-read. This is a long dead discussion, and I have purchased several very nice black inks for tribal. WOW!

                      Oh, as far as the CAM comment, Intenze, Starbrite, other long time around brands are in there.

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