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About Carpentry & Tattoos


A Swiss woman settles in India – 5

By Simone Toni Weibel

In Switzerland I used to work as a tattoo artist as well. I am a kind of learning by doing person, so I watched many videos about tattooing and ordered all the stuff I needed to get started. I bought some fake skin and tried all the needles and stuff. It was very easy for me to needle on it but I had that feeling of having the wrong material to work on. So, I just worked on a nice design and pulled my leg out to tattoo on it. Yes, it was upside down, yes it did hurt but actually not that much and, yes, it turned out quite good regarding it was my first tattoo.

After that I didn’t tattoo for one year, until I was working in Jaipur and met my friend Alfons, who was my co-teacher over there. One evening he complained about tattoos and especially how ugly it looks on girls. We became very fond friends and at the end of our India journey, he absolutely wanted to get tattooed by me. So, as we were heading back to Switzerland, I made a design of an old airplane for his chest and tattooed it under his skin. I liked it and thought that I could practice a little more… I tattooed my other leg. What to do?

As the Tattoo was nice as well, I just started to work on clients for a very low income. They knew I’m a beginner but were convinced to get a nice piece from me. And, yes, they were all nice and I went on and on making bigger and bigger tattoos. My largest piece is a half body with a Japanese design and it took 170 hours to get it under the skin. The guy who wears it is the bravest I have ever known, when it comes to surrender to pain. We never worked less than five hours a session.

Here, in Dehradun, I already have some potential clients, who are waiting for me to get started on their skin. I talked to Black Opal Tattoo Studio and maybe I will be able to tattoo there as a guest tattooer for some time. Let’s see.

But right now, I’m still busy with my interiors. As I intend to build some furniture, I had to go to the wood market and find out what I can get there. I was very precise about the measurements, because I don’t want to bother with cutting all the pieces myself. After hours of explanation I had my order placed but their delivery was quite a mess. All the lengths were wrong. But that’s how it goes very often here, no? I really learn patience over here. ‘Koee baat nahin’ – after complaining to the vendor, he showed up very engaged and came to my place with his carpenter to get all the wood cut up to my wishes. Now it is just perfect and I’m looking forward to building my furniture. As it is mainly teak wood, my whole appartement has that wonderful smell of it, which reminds me of my childhood in Kenya and Sri Lanka back in time. The odour makes me feel even more safe and home. I just feel so right here in Dehradun and I’m more than thankful for this great opportunity that this country with its amazing people offers me every day.

(Simone Toni Weibel (47) is an independent artist, teacher and writer from Switzerland who has settled down in Dehradun.)