Tattoos are a permanent form of art that is affixed to your skin, but this art form is more than just skin deep. Tattooing has existed for centuries, and has played an important role in many cultures around the world. Certain tattooing techniques and traditions are passed down through cultures. Tattoos can just be decorative, but they can also have deep personal meaning to people, as is the case with tattoos made out of a loved one's cremation ashes.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Tattoo With Cremation Ashes?
- How Does Getting a Tattoo With Cremains Work?
- How Can You Find a Tattoo Artist That Tattoos With Cremains?
- Ideas for Tattoos That Use Cremation Ink
After all, when you commit to inking something on yourself for life, you want to make sure it’s a design you can really live with. One subject people often cope with through tattooing is death. Many people opt to have a permanent tribute to their loved ones applied to their skin as a memorial. If you want a tribute tattoo for a deceased loved one, you may have even seen references to tattoo ink that has been infused with cremation ashes.
You might wonder though—is that really a thing that’s safe to do? Here, we’ll look more into the world of cremation ash tattooing.
What’s a Tattoo With Cremation Ashes?
A tattoo that has been done with cremation ashes is often also called a ritual tattoo or a commemorative tattoo. It is very much a traditional tattoo applied through traditional machines and techniques. It’s the ink that is special.
In a ritual tattoo, a small amount of cremation ash is infused into regular tattoo ink. It is a very small amount — typically less than a tablespoon of ash goes into a vial of ink. The ash needs to be a very fine consistency, so you may need to part with more than a tablespoon so they have enough of the finest ash to work with.
Not everyone realizes this, but the ashes that you get back after the cremation isn’t just ash. There are also bits of charcoal and even bone sometimes still present. So it’s important to try and sift through the ash and send the finest portion.
Cremation ashes have already been heated to over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit during the process. However, once the ash has been separated into super fine dust, it is usually baked again to sterilize it. Then it is further ground down. At that point, the ashes are mixed into the ink. The application of the tattoo then goes on as usual.
However, some people with cremation ink tattoos reported ash-infused ink makes them itchier than regular ink. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to stick with a more traditional memorial tattoo that uses regular ink.
Tip: If you're looking for something very unique to hold the rest of your loved one's ashes (think a game, their motorcycle, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.
How Does Getting a Tattoo With Cremains Work?
If you are interested in getting a tattoo with ash-infused ink, there are a few steps you need to take. First, you should find a company that infuses the ash into the ink for you. They will be able to do this in the safest manner possible. While some tattoo artists will mix the ashes into the ink themselves, it is a highly specialized practice.
Very few tattoo artists offer this kind of service, so it can be really difficult to find someone who will mix the ink and apply a cremation tattoo. When you get one of these specialty companies to make the ink for you, a lot more tattoo artists are willing and able to use it. Once you have the ink and have selected an artist, the rest of the process will look the same as getting a regular tattoo.
How Can You Find a Tattoo Artist That Tattoos With Cremains?
As stated earlier, it can be difficult to find a tattoo artist who works with cremation ink. There are a few ways you can go about finding a tattoo artist who can apply an ash-infused tattoo to your skin.
First, go online and look at the websites for tattoo shops in your area. Most parlors that provide this service should list it prominently. Since it’s such a specialized service, the places that do offer it will want to put it out there. If you don’t want to go through every website individually, there's another option. You can try to narrow it down by searching a phrase like “cremation tattoos” online and then including the name of your city. That might help you get there a little faster.
If you don’t find anyone in your area who will put the cremation ash into the ink, that’s okay. Remember that there are several companies who can add the ash to the ink for you. In that case, look around to find tattoo artists whose styles you like. If they don’t state that they offer cremation ink that’s fine. Just look for artists that you think you might want to work with.
Then reach out to them to see if they’re open to doing a tattoo with cremation ink through one of those companies. If you find people who are open to it, then you can go ahead and figure out which company you want to work with. You may find a local tattoo studio has already worked with one of the ash-infusing companies when you reach out. In that case, they may be able to give you more guidance.
Ideas for Tattoos That Use Cremation Ink
Now that we know a little bit more about how ash-infused ink works, let’s talk about the kinds of designs you can incorporate them into. The reason people get cremation ink into a tattoo is because they want to feel like they’re permanently carrying a piece of their loved one with them.
Ash-infused ink is very well-suited towards memorial tattoos in honor of someone who has passed. Here are some further ideas you can explore:
1. Monochromatic tattoo
Ash-infused ink is not inexpensive. A single vial of ink costs around $200. That doesn’t factor in the cost of hiring the tattoo artist to apply the tattoo. Getting a tattoo that features many colors of ash-infused ink would be prohibitively expensive for most people. If you stick to a tattoo that just uses one color, the cost becomes much more reasonable.
Alternatively, if you want a tattoo that features lots of colors, you can use the ash-infused ink in just one of them. Black ink would be a great option for this if your design uses black outlines.
2. Portrait tattoo
If you want to get a tattoo in loving memory of someone, a portrait tattoo is always a great choice. Portrait tattoos feature photorealistic images of people.
The tattoo artist typically works off of several reference photos of the deceased so they can capture the most accurate likeness. Not every tattoo artist does portraits, so it’s best to look for someone who specializes in that style.
3. Name or date tattoo
When people get tattoos to memorialize a loved one, they often include the same information you would find on a headstone.
This might be the full name of the deceased (or their first name, nickname, or even just “Mom” or “Dad”). It also might include the dates they were born and the dates they died. It could even include a memorial quote. This is a simple but classic memorial tattoo.
4. Religious memorial tattoos
Many memorial tattoos include religious iconography of some sort. Objects like angel wings, halos, or a tree of life can carry spiritual significance. This can be a somber but beautiful element to include in a cremation ink tattoo.
5. Pet tattoo
Memorial tattoos aren’t just done to commemorate people. Pet lovers will also get tattooed tributes to their furry (or fin-y or scaly) friends.
An increasing number of pet owners are choosing to have their pets cremated when they die. If you’re one of them, and you’ve been contemplating what to do with your pet’s ashes, a cremation ink tattoo may be a good choice. It could be a portrait, or maybe a small set of pawprints.
Memorial Tattoos With Ash-Infused Ink
If you’re looking for a creative way to remember someone, a memorial tattoo is a beautiful way to pay tribute to them. Incorporating ash-infused ink elevates a traditional memorial tattoo into something more special and. It might take a little more legwork than a traditional tattoo, but this unusual gesture is a sweet way to commemorate a loved one.
If you're looking for more things to do with cremated ashes, read our guides on how to scatter ashes at the beach and how to turn ashes into vinyl. You can even have a memorial diamond or cremation stones made from cremated remains. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone. Parting Stone is a unique service that transforms cremains into uniquely beautiful solidified stones.