Blog Series : “Why we get Tattoos” : 1.4 Memorial tattoos - Holding them close forever.

As social media continues to be a powerful tool for expressing oneself, I have recognized that more and more people are talking about death.  It is in my belief that we discuss death online because we feel free to do so.  The same anonymity that the computer screen offers us when we comment on issues we may not normally speak out on exists around difficult times, like death of a friend or loved one.  As we struggle to find a reason why, social media offers us a vehicle to gather support from friends and family when we are dealing with the many stages of grief.

It can be a beautiful experience to be able to overcome the initial heartache of dealing with loss, by recognizing the beauty of that person’s life. At Liquid Amber Tattoo, we are honoured to be part of this experience for our clients by providing memorial tattoos. When a client is ready, a memorial tattoo can help with closure as part of the grieving process. They offer the client a way to carry that person’s memory in an artistic way;  commemorating their loved one forever.  

Just like any other tattoo, what the memorial tattoo looks like is totally up to the client. Some ask for realistic portraits, images of one’s favourite place or items, and some even contain a small amount of their loved one’s ashes.

The first time I heard about tattooing ashes, I was surprised. I didn’t understand what that meant or what that process would look like. Would this tattoo heal? Would it be sanitary?

The main ingredients in black ink is carbon, cremated ash is essentially carbon.

“Theoretically speaking, providing the ash has been kept sterilized since the cremation, the tattoo artist is able to gather a small pinch of the ash and add it into the tattoo ink and continue the tattoo process as they would normally.” says Justina Kervel, lead artist and owner of Liquid Amber Tattoo.

It’s important to know there are different consistencies of ash. Often, cremated ash will consist of small pieces of bone and pebble like pieces. In order to add ash to tattoo ink, the artist must remove only the finest particles of ash and sterilize them appropriately, often using an autoclave (Pressure chamber that utilizes high pressure saturated steam to sterilize medical equipment & supplies).

Once the ash has been added to the ink, the rest of the tattooing process is normal. Only a minuscule amount of ash will actually penetrate the skin and this should not alter or change the look of your tattoo.
At Liquid Amber Tattoo we want to bring you the highest caliber of knowledge, education and quality tattoos. Until there’s more research done on tattooing with ashes, our artists have decided that we won’t tattoo our clients with ashes in order to guarantee a safe tattoo experience.

Tattooing with ashes has become more and more popular to commemorate both pets and humans. We want to note that tattooing with ashes is not something that’s recommended by Health Canada because the composition of the ashes is unknown and there is potential for adverse reactions and unknown risks.

Memorial tattoo by L.A.T artist, Milo Marcelo.

Memorial tattoo by L.A.T artist, Milo Marcelo.

Memorial pet portrait by L.A.T. artist, Ashley Horncastle.

Memorial pet portrait by L.A.T. artist, Ashley Horncastle.


Thanks for reading : “Why We Get Tattoos” a blog series outlining the many reasons behind getting tattooed.

Read more about tattooing with ashes on the National Post

We invite you to share with us your story. What is it that made you get your tattoo? What’s your story? Funny or personal, we’d love to hear it!

Email us your thoughts to / subject line “MY STORY”.  You might be anonymously featured in an upcoming blog!