Memorializing the passing of a loved one with a tattoo is a familiar request among tattoo clientele, but for some, the memorial tattoo may not be personal enough. In recent years, requests for “ash tattoos” – tattoos with cremated ashes – are becoming just as commonplace.
Ash tattoos, also referred to as “morbid ink”, “cremation tattoos”, “commemorative tattoos” or “ritual tattoos”, essentially involve mixing the sterilized ashes (carbon) of a loved one in fine powder form in the ink used for tattoos. Carbon is the main ingredient in black ink.
Getting an ash tattoo was once a largely underground practice mainly because of the “unknown risks”. But, advocates of the practice claim that it’s safe because the ashes are sterilized. And yet, despite the unknown risks, it seems the growing trend for ash tattoos among the bereaved can only be attributed to the fact that they remain, arguably, the most intimate, private and personal tattoos a person can get.
Urban Primitive has had two clients who requested the inclusion of their loved one’s ashes in the tattoo ink. The first client approached Daemon around 15 years ago to incorporate her mother’s ashes into the tattoo ink. After some investigation and research, Daemon opted to spread her mom’s ashes to cover the entire surface area of her freshly finished tattoo (while still technically an open wound), so that the ashes would have maximum absorption. The second client wanted to personally spread her father’s over her memorial tattoo of an eagle’s ashes at the end of the session.
Daemon does not feel that it is necessary to make a custom ink or inks with the ashes to have an intensely intimate connection with their deceased loved ones. However, for people who prefer this option, there is a commercially prepared custom tattoo ink that can incorporate a small amount of ashes.